2nd Nov 2001, 08:36
The Buick has more power, but it simply does not have the handling or responsiveness of the SVT Contour. The Buick feels more like the SHO Taurus. Compared back to back with the SVT Contour, the GS feels lethargic and wallowy (it's NOT lethargic and wallowy, in general, only when compared back to back with the SVT. When I bought my 99 SVT, the GS was one of the cars on my list)
6th Sep 2002, 02:27
With regards to the review, the transmission problem is fairly common. The SVT version of the contour did not receive the Quaife LSD like the overseas Mondeo ST24 did, and as we American enthusiasts had hoped. Many owners have reported having the tranny go out during warranty, and as a result, had the rebuild/replacement covered.
The '98.5-'99 model years were known as E0 (for evolution-0) and the 2000 models, as well as a few later '99 models, were known as E1 (for evo-1). The major exterior difference is the change in the type of wheel/tire combo from the older, SHO-like Cosworth wheels to the newer mini-cobra wheels. The 2000 models were the only models I believe came with the trunk spoiler option. The only other options were a sunroof (which 90% of all SVTs came with) and a CD player.
The engine is a 2.5L (2544cc) V6 Duratec, "High Output", ranking in the top 5 of all production cars with regards to its "specific output" (Horsepower/Liter) among naturally aspirated (non-turbo and non-supercharged) cars, just behind the S2000 and Integra Type R, among others. The earlier years ('98.5 - '99) received moderate Extrude Honing performed on the Upper Intake Manifold, providing 295 hp at the crank. The last year of production, 2000, received a more liberal application of Extrude Honing, netting an additional 5 hp at the crank. Possibly the nicest part of the engine is the kick it gives just after 2.9k RPM (2.5k at Wide-Open-Throttle). This is when the secondary intake valves open and the engine chews gas. With the secondaries closed, the engine retains the torque you would expect from a 2.5L, and with the secondaries open, the horsepower begins to climb quickly.
The transmission is a Ford MTX-75 (no auto option on the SVT) with an open differential. Quaife started production of the LSDs before they received a contract for the SVT, and, as they never got the contract, the Quaife for the Contour MTX-75 retails for far below what Quaife charges for other tranny/auto-models.
Much of the interior creaking is due to the particular type of leather interior or suspension, but the Contour has been known to have chassis-creaks, since it is uni-body.
The car is a sleeper for those who don't know the American sport-compact market well. The only other American car in its class that will beat it in the 0-60 or Quarter is the Pontiac GTP Grand Prix (which uses a 3.4L S/C engine if I am not mistaken). But the nicest part of the car is the suspension and the ability to give the car quite a bit of oversteer. For those of you who are interested in SCCA auto-crossing, the Contour SVT compares to the Integra Type R, the Nissan Sentra SE-R, the Focus SVT, and the Toyota Corolla S, among other older models. The Contour is the largest and heaviest of the bunch, but still manages to corner with these light imports.
The price of the Contour SVT new was $23.5k-$25k, but I bought mine for a smidge under $20k, 20 months ago. The resale is not tremendous, considering the fact that the car is a Ford, and that the non-SVT version of the car isn't much of a looker. The car does stand out among the others in the market (even if it is off the market).
For those of you looking for aftermarket goodies, the 2.5 L Duratec has a turbo kit, a Vortec supercharger kit, two brands of headers, a K&N intake filter, many intakes and throttle-bodies, a Borla cat-back exhaust, a variety of Spring and/or shock combos and even a camber-correction kit for the front suspension. Obviously, there are many more parts.. just poke around at http://www.contour.org/ and http://www.fordcontour.org/ for more information and owner opinions.
BTW, I am a Contour SVT owner of 21 months. I had the transmission replaced at 31k miles, and the dash was replaced (factory defect). No other major problems. I have spent nothing on the car more than gas, oil, tires, and an alignment.
18th Jan 2003, 22:30
I bought my 1998 Contour SVT nine months ago, and I cannot imagine driving anything better for under $10,000. As a good daughter should, I took it to my father (a former sprint car driver) before I signed the purchase papers, and his only comments were "You don't need this car, buy a Saturn," (i.e. it's too fast) and when I persisted, "Keep your foot out of it and don't ask me to fix anything on it." He knew why I wanted it, and luckily, I've had absolutely no problems with it, even at 73,000 miles.
I have nothing but praise for the SVT, and it is the standard against which I will compare my future car purchases. It does what I tell it to do, without asking questions, and I feel safer in it than any car I have owned (including a 1982 Toyota Supra) because of the excellent handling, and, God forbid, steel construction and dual airbags. Case in point: I narrowly avoided rear-ending (at 60 MPH) a woman backing down the center of a PA Turnpike exit lane, only to realize that I would have either hit her or wrecked trying to avoid her if I had been driving most other cars, especially my old one. In short, the suspension and four-wheel disc brakes saved my butt.
Ladies (and gentlemen), SVT's are the reason to learn to drive manual. Just don't tell your father.
20th Jan 2003, 21:12
Hey!!! I'm looking for this rumored Turbo kit for the SVT Contour. Could someone please tell me where to find it or some information on it please? If you have Instant Messenger my screen name is RAHMEL82 that's the easiest way to reach me, thanks for your time.
8th Dec 2003, 01:04
I believe the SVT contour to be a marvel of Ford engineering. I myself added a H&R spring kit, Superchip computer, and new exhaust to my used '98, and breathed new life into an already pumped up ride. My only complaint is that Ford will no longer produce them... LONG LIVE THE SVT!
5th Feb 2004, 11:32
I own a 2000 Contour SVT with less than 35,000 miles. I love everything about the car, with two exceptions: The transmission thing mentioned in the other emails has been happening to me for a year and a half. Because the problem is so intermittent, every time I try to have a dealer fix it, the problem cannot be duplicated. So I've been driving around for the last year and a half, letting the problem get gradually worse until finally a dealer can duplicate and fix this dangerous problem. Second, I understand the car is made to hug the road, but sometimes there's too much hugging! Old roads with dips and uneven surfaces often cause the steering wheel to whip out of my hands and nearly into the neighboring lane. Lastly, I am having the idol air control motor replaced, I am not quite sure what that is. Anyway, other than that-it's an awesome car and a lot of fun to drive!