While based on Ford's CDW27 World Car platform, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Contour SVT is set up as a Safety Car for that most American of racing series — Champ Car. Will its price however, make it the most expensive Contour... in the world?
The Contour wasn't Ford's first attempt at developing a single model that could be marketed across their global footprint, having done so with the Escort a decade and a half earlier. Also like the Escort, the CDW27 platform underpinned cars with almost no interchangeable components - the American Contour sharing only its windshield, door glass and exterior handles with its European Mondeo sibling.
Still, it was obvious from the Contour's dimensions - especially the narrow rear door openings - that it was intended for skinny Europeans in their fashionably tight Italian suits, and not lardasstical Americans challenging the capabilities of their Walmart sweat-pant waistbands. Needless to say, the Contour was not the hit here that the Mondeo was in Europe.
And that perhaps was the reason Ford asked their SVT magic fairies to wave their wands over the Contour, and change it from a toad, to a prince, or al least something royalty might not despise being seen in. The goal of the SVT team was to create an aggressive sporting model in the attempt to bring back the glories of the original Taurus SHO which by this time had become portly, and more disappointingly, automatic-only.
In contrast, the SVT edition of the Contour came with an MTX-75 five-speed manual, operated though a lightened flywheel. Other changes included an upgraded clutch, larger front brakes, stiffer spring rates and a smaller front anti-sway bar. This 1998 Contour SVT has all that, plus the unique SVT bodywork, including fog light impregnated front valance, side skirts and blackout grille. Missing is the rear spoiler, and the car comes in a non-standard SVT hue. That's because this is what is claimed to be one of three PPG-painted CART series safety cars, and is hence been sprayed in an iridescent purple that changes color as the light is reflected off it at different angles. The other two cars are said to have been painted gold and
santorum brown sea foam green.
The seller says this is one of the first Contour SVTs built making a '98 and not a ‘98.5. That means it sports 195-bhp out of its 2.5-litre Duratec rather than the straight 200 of the mid-year update. Still, that's a 25-horse gain over the stock four-cam V6, and with a larger intake and exhaust it also sounded a lot better.
This one comes with the PPG paint, making it unique, but that's not all that differentiates this Safety Car from a standard SVT. There's also a set of BBS alloys, and under those are multi-pot Brembo brakes. Although disconnected, a fire suppression system and pace car flashing light setup are also included. The latter might be fun to get working to see who in your neighborhood is epileptic.
The rest of the interior is stock, there's not even a roll cage or five-point harness to butch things up - but does have the SVT's fluffy leather thrones, anti-minstrel white-faced gauges and, typical for a ‘90s Ford, a sea of plastic to cosset its passengers. Still, it all looks in excellent shape. That's probably because the car has but 24,886 miles, and most of those were made turning left.
The Contour on the whole is not a feather that Ford would likely stick in its cap, but the SVT does have its fans. The size, aggressive looks and reasonable performance make it about the only edition of the World Car's American iteration worthy of such interest, and this one is about as rare a one-off of that as you might find.
Still, as we all know, rare does not equate to value and this PPG-painted SVT comes with a price - $15,000 - that is about 5-times what your average SVT Contour would claim. What do you think about that price? Is fifteen large a price that should make someone fall victim to this purple people eater? Or, does that make this a Contour that's So Very Tempting?
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