When it was time for me to go from a fire-breathing sports car to a good driving sport sedan, a friend recommended the SVT. I was in college and needed something inexpensive, but still good fun. I found a one-owner early 1998 model nearby with ~60,000 miles for a reasonable price, drove it, liked it, negotiated a price and bought it. The dealer agreed to fix a couple minor issues.
The next 40,000 miles went without any real issue. I replaced all 4 brakes and went with an enthusiast group recommended aftermarket set - which warped rotors like tin foil, but were otherwise an upgrade. I replaced the shocks and struts with a euro-spec kit that firmed up the body motions, and really improved the handling for a reasonable price.
I was driving 20,000 miles a year at the time, so I stuck with all-season tires for the extra life and quieter highway ride.
I averaged 24mpg for most of the time I owned it, with as much as 29 and no lower than 21. It really was a lot of fun to drive.
The power was reasonable, and the handling was probably second to none against other front drive sedans at the time.
After 100,000 miles, the car turned into a total service nightmare. It was something every two weeks. I used my insurance roadside service more times than I can remember.
Most of the issues above are self-explanatory. The most significant was the engine wiring harness. Anything electrical listed above probably went out as a result of the corroded main engine control wiring harness. It was always a southern car, so there were no harsh winters to blame. It was simply a poorly produced component.
The issue lies in that the final design for the part changed from year to year to year, and unfortunately for me, was discontinued for the particular production run for my car. Ford had extended the warranty for this part, but I was outside that period once the harness was found to be the problem. Ford was also unwilling to make an exception, even though my issues put me inside that time frame. I was completely out of luck for a barely 10 year old car. I thought I found a used part in good condition that I paid a small fortune for; unfortunately, it was for a different production run design. My mechanic was able to modify it to work for $1200. After a month and a half in the shop, with most of that time trying to source a part, I was back in business. Three days later a $2.50 bolt snapped inside the transmission, rendering it stuck in 2nd gear.
I worked 2 jobs, and was trying to finish my undergrad at the time, so that meant another $500+ trip to the mechanic. I worked up the numbers, sold it to an enthusiast and bought a new Honda.
It really was a great car to drive when it worked right, and it had a lot of good stuff like leather, sunroof, etc for a very reasonable price.
Even aside from the electrical issues, I wouldn’t recommend this car to anyone but a DIY’ing enthusiast. I could write a book on the headaches this car caused me. Even then, a similar year BMW would probably be a better driving car for a similar cost of ownership.