Crapwagon Outtake: 1998 Ford Contour SVT

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1998 ford contour svt

The appeal of the hot family sedan should be obvious. A car offering both family hauling utility and apex-hunting ability means, in theory, that the sports sedan should be the ideal cool dad car. BMW has been the king of this market for decades.

In practice, though, there are often too many compromises between comfort and performance that doom the sports sedan in the eyes of buyers.

Today’s feature, a 1998 Ford Contour SVT, is a great example of this compromise. One would think that taking the best selling family sedan in the UK, adding power and a firmer suspension, and turning it loose on American enthusiasts would be a recipe for a great car.

Over two decades, however, the SVT has become an unloved old Ford, just as likely to grace a buy-here, pay-here lot as a cone-filled parking lot. I see a Contour SVT on my commute, sitting curbside with a busted rear window, dragging side skirt, and rotted exhaust, and it’s not the only one I’ve seen neglected in such a manner.

The Contour, SVT or not, wasn’t a great car simply due to compromise. It was a bit too small compared to the competition, with a cramped rear seat becoming too tight for teenagers. I owned a first-generation Focus, and felt more comfortable in the rear than the nominally-larger Contour.

There are plenty of red flags on this Contour SVT. If perfect, $6,500 might be an acceptable price, though I wouldn’t spend more than $4,000. I’m wary of the poor photographs, combined with the seller’s description of “all works” and “well maintain.” I’ve a feeling that any transaction with this particular seller will lead to headaches.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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  • Slingshot Slingshot on Feb 27, 2016

    I had a 2007 stripped model, no air or power windows, etc. that I bought for $9,999. I enjoyed driving it; was like a small German sports sedan. Handling was great at 80 mph. Major problems including the manual transmission. Got a $1,000 trade in when I purchased my 2002 Millenia S. My friend had the V-6 with a manual transmission and had much fewer problems.

  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Feb 28, 2016

    These were fun cars when new, but they didn't stand the test of time and quickly turn to trash.

  • Fahrvergnugen NA Miata goes topless as long as roads are dry and heater is running, windscreen in place.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic As a side note, have you looked at a Consumers Report lately? In the past, they would compare 3 or 4 station wagons, or compact SUVs, or sedans per edition. Now, auto reporting is reduced to a report on one single vehicle in the entire edition. I guess CR realized that cars are not as important as they once were.
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  • 3SpeedAutomatic Lots of dynamics here:[list][*]people are creatures of habit, they will stick with one or two web sites, one or two magazines, etc; and will only look at something different if recommended by others[/*][*]Generation Y & Z is not "car crazy" like Baby Boomers. We saw a car as freedom and still do. Today, most youth text or face call, and are focused on their cell phone. Some don't even leave the house with virtual learning[/*][*]New car/truck introductions are passé; COVID knocked a hole in car shows; spectacular vehicle introductions are history.[/*][*]I was in the market for a replacement vehicle, but got scared off by the current used and new prices. I'll wait another 12 to 18 months. By that time, the car I was interested in will be obsolete or no longer available. Therefore, no reason to research till the market calms down. [/*][*]the number of auto related web sites has ballooned in the last 10 to 15 years. However, there are a diminishing number of taps on their servers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X fall off the radar scope. [/*][/list]Based on the above, the whole auto publishing industry (magazine, web sites, catalogs, brochures, etc) is taking a hit. The loss of editors and writers is apparent in all of publishing. This is structural, no way around it.
  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
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