The Ford Contour SVT Is a Sporty Sedan You Don’t Know About

TAKE A LOOK AT THIS SVT CONTOUR ON CARS & BIDS!

The Ford Shape SVT is arguably the Ford Special Car Team's most neglected offering, however it's more than just a historical curiosity– with a naturally-aspirated V6 mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and compact measurements, the Shape SVT has genuine sports sedan credibility.

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DOUGSCORE CHART:

CHAPTERS:
00:00 THIS …
00:26 It Can Be Yours On CARS & BIDS!!!
01:01 Introduction
02:42 SVT
03:20 Power Numbers
04:12 SVT Upgrades
05:11 Subtlety
06:22 More Outside Quirks
06:56 Interior SVT Upgrades
08:36 Well-Equipped Interior
09:18 90s Ford Plastic
09:52 More Interior Quirks and Features
12:04 Back Seats
12:44 SVT Rear Seat Upgrades
13:26 Trunk
14:38 Driving Experience
19:30 Final Thoughts
19:50 DougScore

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The Ford Contour SVT Is a Sporty Sedan You Don’t Know About

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About the Author: RareCars

61 Comments

  1. I had a ’99 SVT Contour for 3 years. It was lovely to drive, and the sound was a big part of the experience.

    1. I had one as well. The sound was nice when one could hear it over the unending creaking of the terrible interior plastics, lol.

    2. I intentionally left my standard V6 Contour with a bit of an exhaust leak right before the muffler because it made it sound a bit better without becoming too loud or harsh. Had the great side effect of making the plastic noise easier to ignore, too! I love these cars.

    3. I sure hope it was better than the Ford Probe with the V6; Those were the “Un-Cars”. They did nothing wrong, but nothing well either…..

    1. I’d rather watch a review of some forgotten economy car that Ford tried to make sporty than the latest most limited edition 1 of -1 $2B Lamboclarenarri.

  2. The “coin hole” and the plate with “Contour” written on it at 9:52 actually serve as poverty blanks. There was a sort of graphical instrumentation module showing ajar doors, broken light bulbs etc. in the hole next to the air vents and a trip computer in place of the “Contour” plate. These were only available in Europe in higher end versions of the Mondeo.

    The Mondeo my father bought new in 1999 didn’t have either of these though. In place of the trip computer there was a digital clock. The buttons for setting the time were quite badly misaligned in his car, the assemblers hadn’t even bothered to check if the lettering in those buttons were straight. But I guess that’s 1990’s Ford quality for you.

    The engine it had was a painfully sluggish 90 hp turbo diesel, with a 0-62 time of 14-ish seconds.

    1. The module you are talking about was actually removed on all cars in 1998 if I recall correctly, so you couldn’t get it even on the highest spec Mondeo. Mondeos were also available with adaptive suspension and 4×4 (2.0) early on. Ford 90s quality was over all not the greatest as you say. The car over all became cheaper and manufacturing quality also got worse as time moved on, but the 1.6/1.8/2.0 Zetec (blacktop) was much improved in 1998.

    2. @@Makedeth These videos are just Cars & Bids commercials at this point. He’s not doing any research anymore.

    3. @@vevos_ I think you are correct on the removal of the module, I don’t remember seeing a picture of a post-1998 Mondeo (with a blue oval in the steering wheel for a logo) with that equipment.

      I later on bought a used 1996 pre-FL Mondeo with a silver top 1.8 Zetec, which developed a piston slap so horrendous my neighbour mistook it for a diesel. Not that the quality was too good elsewhere either. The heater fan, which was located above the passenger footwell, once dropped off its mountings and landed in the footwell bouncing all over the place hanging on its power cable before I realised what happened and turned off the fan.

      My father’s diesel estate was a robust car though.

    4. Yeah the silvertop can sound very rough and Ford spent a lot of money fixing issues with the valves and hydraulic tappets which is unfortunate because it’s actually a very robust engine. The blacktop is how the engine should’ve been from the beginning.@@henrimoilanen6714

  3. The Mondeo you show as ‘hatchback’ is actually our stationwagon. There was a hatchback, but it was more like a liftback. We had the sedan aswell but like you said, it wasn’t very popular in Europe. Most sold models were the liftback and stationwagon

    1. The only sedan that has done well in the U.K. since the early 1980s has been the Tesla Model 3 and I suspect that was despite it being a sedan. The later model Mondeos had exactly the same profile for the sedan and hatchback. For quirks Doug should check out the Skoda Superb which could open as either.

    2. ​@@MrDunclMany saloon cars did well in the UK since the early 80’s. Hence Mondeo man. We have never really differentiated between the model with the boot or tailgate. Unless looking at hatchbacks like the Vauxhall Asta and Belmont for example. Zero credit to Tesla

    3. @@robsmall6466 I specifically said Sedan. The most popular Mondeo in the U.K. was definitely the hatchback. I got allocated one of the very first as a lease car back in 1993 after two Rover 216s (also the hatchback model).

      Before the Model Y launched I saw someone coming out of the local builders merchant in a Model 3 with lengths of wood stuck out of the passenger window. I hadn’t seen that since the days of Ford Cortinas.

    4. @@MrDuncl Mondeo was never described as a hatchback in the UK. We have always called it a saloon. As I specifically said. Plenty of vehicles made between the 80’s and now in the UK that have had the carrying capacity of a Tesla. Again – zero credit to give

  4. There were 3 of these in my extended family. I had a 99, a cousin had 98.5, and an uncle with a 2000. There were a LOT of quirks with the CSVT. However, the enthusiast community (local and over at contourDOTorg) was a great resource. I’m surprised Doug didn’t mention (with his vast auto trivia) the engine’s pedigree along with the other SVT model: Focus SVT.

    1. I used to spend so much time on that forum! Allegedly, it had design input from Cosworth. I think they were supposed to be involved with the dual stage intake runners. Rad little car! My first car was a Mystique V6, and I got go fast bits from England, desperately hoping it would transfer my car into an SVT. It most certainly did not, hahaha.

  5. Hi Doug,

    I just want to add, that equivalent of Contour SVT in Europe was Mondeo ST200, not a regular Mondeo.
    Mondeo (St200 as well) was offered as Sedan, Liftback and Station wagon.

    All of these interior quirks are just placeholders. In European version there were some additional displays or just a timer at least.
    Anyway, that was a good coor back then, I owned one as a student 🙂

    1. The Contour badge on a badge is the place where Europe put a clock/temperature gage in a narrow digital screen. I’m not sure if it had more functions than the two basic ones, it may have.

    2. @@rubenvanpraagh8791 it was fully functional trip computer. Could show current or average fuel consumption, average speed and other statistics 🙂

    3. In that era, I have sat in European Mondeos and American Contours. The European Mondeos were obviously better cars, so some changes must have been made.
      Does anyone know how they were adjusted?

    4. @@Timico1000 Yes.. the Mondeos of Europe were obviously much better cars than the Contours of the USA, so some changes must have been made.

  6. I bought a ’98 SVT new. It was the first car I ever bought and it was wonderful. The high revving V6 pulled hard from around 3500 to Red line (7200?). The sound remains one of the best sounding v6s ever. Ride, handling balance was great and I took it into the hills quite often. The performance numbers were right around the BMW 3-series and Audi A4 of the time for 10k less.
    Still one of my favorite cars I’ve owned.

    1. Yep, totally agree. Revving it out from second to third and hearing that exhaust note was fantastic!

    1. I still own a 2000 and the engine note is what I love best. It breathes like it is alive. It always reminds me of the 360 sprint cars the way it exhales between shifts.

    2. Its the best sounding V-6 engine I’ve ever heard! The 2.5 Duratec is incredibly smooth and even the standard 165 hp version sounded great.

  7. Glad to see the SVT Contour get a review. In 2007, I flew to San Jose CA to buy a ’99 SVT. Brought my dad along for the long ride home. A week and 4k miles later, we arrived in New Hampshire. I still have the car. In the heyday of small online forums, the car had a tight-knit enthusiast community with local and national organized meets. Good memories and I made some lifelong friendships.

  8. *Also, another popular thing was to swap out the Duratec25 that cane in the Contour with a Duratec30 from the Taurus. 201hp and 207 ft. Lbs. stock vs: 200hp and 170 ft. Lbs. The 30 ft Lbs extra of torque is night and day.*

  9. In a small town where roads whispered tales of adventures, I first laid eyes on her – the Ford Contour SVT. Her sleek lines and vibrant color ignited a spark within my heart. Our journey together began, each drive an enchanting chapter in our love story. From winding roads to city lights, every mile deepened our connection. Her purring engine and responsive handling became the soundtrack to our shared moments. In the garage, under the stars, or on open highways, our love for each other grew stronger, transcending the ordinary. She wasn’t just a car; she was the symphony of our adventures, forever etched in the memories of those unforgettable rides.

  10. I owned a 98 Silver Frost and I loved that car. It was super unique and a blast to drive, but an absolute pain to work on. Still holds a fond place in my memories, though.

    I can’t believe Doug didn’t say anything about the Midnight Blue interior, that’s a huge quirk!!

  11. Interestingly Doug missed a major quirk of the Contour SVT. I owned one for 20 years and put almost 130,000 miles on it, I bought it brand new and knew the car very well. The interior might appear to be black, but is actually very very very dark purple. Fun fact. Ask a Contour SVT owner, they’ll tell you. 😉 It helps to view it in the direct sunlight, then it becomes apparent, especially the seats.

  12. I actually really dig this little car. I remember reading about these back in their time. It’s a cool little time capsule. I think the exterior styling is very sleeper-ish (especially in black with the gun metal wheels) and the interior holds up surprisingly well IMO and doesn’t look THAT cheap. It’s very 90’s and looks pretty fun while being affordable and rare.

    1. I had a black 98 with the bubble style 5 star wheels. I drive a scat pack charger now and this contour was still the most fun car I ever owned.

  13. It seems as if the UK mondeo had very similar interior mouldings but somehow ended up with better quality plastics than the Contour. The Mondeo wasn’t really a creaky plasticky interior and felt more solid with actual velour fabric on the doorcards.
    One thing I’ve also noticed is that the C pillar of the Contour is thinner than the C pillar of the Mondeo and that clearly has affected the headroom of the Contour. I do prefer the Mondeo though aesthetically.

  14. I owned one of these bargain sports cars, and it was a lot of fun. Doug’s review is spot on with pros and cons. Pretty reliable too. Those square covers on the rocker panel had a habit of getting lost.😊

  15. I used to own one of these back in the day, and this car was incredible for it’s time! Like Doug said, cars like these weren’t around like they are now, so it made this one feel special. It was one of those “if you know you know kinda cars

  16. It’s so cool that other people as teens were into these random performance versions of regular cars. Thanks for the review Doug!

  17. Those cars were so cool. I remember the Mercury Cougar was very similar to that car. Felt really well put together. You can see how much smaller cars were 25-30 years ago. Hood goes up to Doug’s knees. You could see out of a car’s windows pre-2000.

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