As soon as I turned the corner I saw this car parked on the left hand side and its low chin immediately caught my eye: an SVT Contour! I just had to stop and grab a picture of it as these little gems have been quite rare for a while now. After all, only 11,445 were built over three years of production. I can’t pinpoint a year for this car, but the Toreador Red was available 1998.5 through the end of production in 2000.
To me these cars were designed in a fashion similar to the 90’s and early 2000’s (pre-Bangle) BMW M3 and M5: tastefully understated and built for enthusiasts. And they had the performance to back up the looks. They certainly aren’t rocket ships today, they are supposed to be an absolute joy in the corners, showing little understeer and sometimes going into oversteer with proper application of the 2.5L Duratec V6. The 5 speed manual (only transmission available on this model) really helped draw out the power too. Some called them the poor-man’s 3 Series, some called them the true successor to the original Taurus SHO.
The huge tail light bar dates this car pretty well, and it’s too bad that it has a distracting aftermarket spoiler. In addition to a rear velance with some mesh, the dual pipes give you a clue to this being something a bit more special. A really great sound is supposed to come out of those, especially above 4000RPM. The original Taurus SHO and this SVT Contour showed us that Ford could really produce excitement in the highly competitive sports sedan arena. It’s just too bad they never acted on that potential.