When Ford unleashed the Contour SVT in the United States in 1998, dads on a budget everywhere rejoiced. When you have children, a lot of the time Mustangs, Camaros, BMW M3’s are non-negotiable with your significant other. That is why this week’s “Caveat Emptor,” (Buyer Beware), which celebrates intriguing cars being sold online for less than $5,000, features a 1999 Ford Contour SVT.
The premise of this weekly column is that it’s fun to search for cars on a limited budget. Since many consumers find themselves looking in this price range, I’m here to help.
The main rule here: the car must kick butt, but beyond that there are few qualifiers:
- The car must be listed on www.CARS.com or www.AutoTrader.com, www.Craigslist.com, or www.Bringatrailer.com.
- It must be for sale when this article comes out.
- It must cost less than $5,000.
- It can be any type of car. Bonus points for enthusiast cars.
- It must be for sale in the United States (local in DC is best).
- Creativity (I know it when I see it) is welcomed.
- I’m open to submissions, email@example.com.
This week’s winner, a 1999 Ford Contour SVT, is for sale in Dumfries, Va., on Craigslist, buy here.
NOTE: Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware. This is not an endorsement of this particular car for sale. I have not driven it, nor do I know the seller.
I speak from experience. I was the owner of a 1999 Ford Contour SVT. I was in need of a more adult performance car as I was moving on to college, and the Contour SVT fit the bill. I purchased my SVT with around 80,000 miles from a local guy in New Jersey for $5,500 in 2005. Here are some pictures of my Contour SVT just before I sold it.
The Ford Contour SVT is a sleeper. To your average Joe it looks like a regular four-door sedan. But if a BMW pulled up next to you at a traffic light, you could shock that smug look right off his face. That’s right. Ford built a hot-rod four door sedan that can haul your kids to school, while schooling those other sporty coupe brands. It was meant to compete directly with BMW’s E36 M3.
What made the Contour SVT special? It had a 200hp 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine, and was capable of hitting 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. It also sported dual exhaust, and a body kit. I had unsuspecting people at gas stations come up to me and ask me what is under the hood when they heard me drive by. The SVT part of the name stands for Special Vehicle Team, Ford’s high performance division. The SVT team not only focused on making the car powerful, but they also tuned the suspension for the track. Car & Driver gave it top honors in it’s Best Handling Car Under $30,000, noting “We’ll concede this car’s need for a supple ride, given the Contour’s four-door duties, but the Contour is up against purpose-built performance cars without such practicality constraints.”
There is a catch here. You might even be wondering why you never heard of the Ford Contour SVT. Some say that it was too European for an American market. Others say that it just didn’t have good enough marketing and no one understood its capabilities. I would venture to say that owners, myself included, really enjoyed their cars. It was only built for three years and just over 10,000 Ford Contour SVTs left the factory. It has a cult following these days, and it’s quite hard to find a low-mileage, well-loved, example.
That’s why, when I saw this Contour SVT on Craigslist, I had to post it here. It’s a 1999 Contour SVT with 85,000 miles! That’s around 5,000 miles a year, and it is unheard of to find a low mile, unmolested Contour SVT. Build number 2193 out of 2760 for that year. It has a new clutch, recent inspection, no rips in the leather and it is for sale locally in the Washington D.C area. The seller is asking $3,750, which is a great deal for a performance car that can do it all. You can find the Craigslist ad here. Buy now, before I do.