Rare Rides: The Original Ford SVT Lightning From 1993
Today’s Rare Ride is a first-generation SVT Lightning from the first year of production. Let’s find out what happened when Ford decided to turn its F-150 into a sport truck.
Junkyard Find: 1999 Ford Contour SVT
Over the decades since the 1960s, the Detroit car companies have tried their best to make dollars selling their Euro-market cars in North America, with varying degrees of success. Ford did tolerably well with the Capri and Fiesta over here, then raked in little American-market income with the Merkur XR4Ti and got bombed, Dresden-style, with Merkur Scorpio sales.
Dearborn optimism climbed to new heights for a high-performance version of the Americanized Mondeo, the Contour SVT, prior to its 1998-model-year debut. Here’s a fiery red ’99 in a Denver wrecking yard.
Ask Jack: We All Need Somebody to Saleen On
Chalk one up for the Widow Douglas — or maybe for Aunt Sally. Both of them tried to “sivilize” Huck Finn. His response was to “light out for the Territory,” which was the wildest and least “sivilized” place he figured he could reasonably reach.
How many boys read that book and nodded in sympathy at Huck’s desire to get away from the coddling and constraining arms of civilization? How many of them used it as a model and pattern for their lives, whether they ended up breaking the sound barrier or starving to death in an abandoned schoolbus? And for how long has our primary impulse as young men been to get out and experience life face to face, on our own terms?
Those days are mostly gone. Today’s young men are “sivilized” by default. If they have any desire to leave their mothers, it is just so they can move to a big city and experience life as part of a communal organism. Whatever desire they might have had for some sort of frontier has been ground out of them bit by painful bit until their default approach to the empty and unknown is a fearful one. A few weeks ago, I read a screed by a young man who was planning to quit his job because his employer was forcing him to ride in an unsafe vehicle. Remembering the thrice-wrecked, permanently dogtracking Plymouth Arrow stakebed conversion I drove for David Hobbs BMW in 1989, I eagerly scrolled down until I could get the details of the deathtrap in question: a 2017 Ford Fusion, which apparently did not receive top marks in some part of the Euro NCAP test.
This is not to say that every young man is afraid of his own shadow. There are still a few dudes out there who imagine themselves rolling towards the unknown in the coolest or hottest car they can (not quite) afford. Which brings us to this week’s episode of Ask Jack.
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.
Digestible Collectible: 2000 Ford SVT Lightning
Eleven years ago, I married a remarkably tolerant woman. She’s not particularly into cars, but she humors me when I prattle on about the merits of whatever awesome car caught my eye that day. Or when I decide I need to take an epic, one day, out-and-back trip to Maryland to buy a race car that’s never turned a wheel under it’s own power in the three years I’ve owned it. But she has her own automotive tastes, and for sake of marital harmony, I do my best to listen.
As a country girl, trucks weigh heavily in her list.
One peculiar truck that caught her eye about fifteen years ago was the Ford SVT Lightning. I think the bit-player role it took in the first “The Fast and the Furious” film (as Harry’s shop truck) may have done it for her. That, or she’s conflating her lust for Vin Diesel’s bulging biceps with the sweet melody of whistling supercharger and burbling V-8.
Crapwagon Outtake: 2004 Ford Focus SVT
For decades, compact cars from Dearborn were miserable. Blue Oval enthusiasts in North America looked longingly at the rally-bred Escorts in the UK and Europe, wondering when the promised “world car” would cross the Atlantic.
Improbably, I was one of those guys. I bought a 2000 Focus sedan (ZTS model with the twincam Zetec) with six months and 6000 miles on the odo, and flogged it for seven years and about a dozen recalls. Should have listened to my Dad, who always warned against buying a first-year model.
Piston Slap: Factory Tune, Power On The Table?
TTAC commentator Raph writes:
Hey Sajeev I’ve got a a bit of a conundrum with 09 GT500. I recently purchased a blue-tooth OBDII dongle and the Torque Pro app for my phone which provides a variety of useful functions including monitoring various PIDs (On Board Diagnostic Parameter IDs).
Housekeeping: What Happened To That Mustang Post?
Die-hard TTAC readers who stick with us for the weekends might notice something strange about the site today: we’re missing a post. On Sunday morning, we republished a story that originally appeared on SVTPerformance.com. We did this after coming to an agreement with the administrator of that site to “re-pop” news and features that might be of interest to the Best&Brightest, in exchange for links back to the original site.
Yesterday afternoon, the fellow who had originally given us permission to publish the article changed his mind and demanded that we take it down immediately, stating that “[the article] was a direct copy with no link-back initially. When one was added it was a pitiful effort; a single hyperlink that looks identical to several other hyperlinks that lead back to your site.” We’ve honored his request to take the article down and to never, ever, ever link to the “SVT Performance” fansite again.
However, one important piece of the article — an email written by Jamal Hameedi regarding the merits of Nurburgring lap-time marketing — was delivered to us under separate cover by another source, so we’re republishing that after the jump.
Derek And Doug's Fantastic Crapwagons: Ford SVT Contour
(The idea for this series based on the numerous emails sent between Derek and Doug, containing long forgotten cars that have fallen into a derelict state. While our intrepid authors would love to own these cars should they ever win the Powerball, they find it difficult to actually part with the funds required to take them home, especially given the significant reconditioning required. In addition, you’ll see the difference between a snow belt car and a clean car from the south, as both authors compare examples from their respective locales.)
Choosing A Second Car
I’ve recently decided I need a second car, even though I am, in fact, only one person. Car guys get it: different cars serve different purposes, and the second car will be a weekend toy. My girlfriend isn’t as sympathetic despite possessing 26 pairs of shoes, each of which look exactly the same to the naked eye.
Piston Slap: What's a Ford Employee to Do?
TTAC Commentator tresmonos writes:
OK. So I used to work for Ford and am now gainfully employed by them (again). My dilemma is as follows:
I am rolling on a Z24 cavalier that I bought brand new in 2001. It has 160K on the clock and the only thing I can see that’s wrong with it is a AC compressor that’s been on limp mode since 2007 (bearing), bad drum brakes due to my laziness (LMAO – SM), and interior fan’s lowest two resistors being shot. The twin cam has a bad coil as it misses at idle, but I could care less. The car’s exterior filth has literally out lasted my marriage. It’s been a hell of a financial savings for me. But we all know the twin cam dream won’t last much longer.
I temporarily moved to SC and blew my car savings load on a 100% rust free 1984 lincoln continental turbo diesel. I repainted it and have slaved over some wiring nightmares on it. I’ve got 6K invested in the thing. And I need a new mode of transportation. Foolish purchase, I know… but if you would look at the clean, rust free body, and sit in that Corinthian plush leather seats whilst romping on the gas to behold two dual plumes of diesel particulate whooshing in the rear view, you’d understand.
New Or Used?: Lease Or Beater? Edition
I currently lease a 2008 Ford Fusion SEL 5 speed, loaded with heated leather, sunroof, SYNC. It has under 20,000 miles with 2 payments left. The lease end buyout is $14,100. I am debating whether to buy out my lease for cash, or just by a beater – I was thinking of a 1998 Ford Contour SVT in the $2500 range. I am about to start a 5 year sprint to pay off my mortgage, so I don’t want endless repair bills during this time. Buy the lease, or buy the beater?
Review: Ford SVT Raptor
It would be difficult to conceive of a vehicle better-suited to demonstrating TTAC’s diversity of automotive reviewers than the massive and massively outrageous Ford Raptor. Robert Farago would have eviscerated it with a zero-star diatribe on the inadvisability of building three-ton boutique trucks with borrowed funds. Sajeev Mehta would rhapsodize about the graphics but demonize the chunky controls. Daniel Stern might be have complained about the lighting system. As fate would have it, however, I’m the fellow who got the Raptor to review. So I took it mudding.