’00 Ford Contour SVT

’00 Ford Contour SVT

This is a shot of second  “SVT” I owned (more on that, later). What can I say? The one car Ford got real right, they stopped selling. In it’s European trim the Contour SVT was several times over a rally and road race champion. Some of the success wasn’t exactly magic – take a big honkin’ V6 stuff it in a real small car and go a racing. Worked then, still works now.

Right off the dealer showroom floor, these were little rocket ships. But, you know, there’s always more power to be found if you know where to look. In this case, it was a parts supplier down in Florida called BAT that had purchased a container full of SVT go-fast parts when Ford Europe shut down their rally program. The result meant that, suddenly unobtainable parts, were now, very much obtainable. Race spec cylinder heads and cams, tuned suspension parts (including coils and sway bars), pretty much anything you could want to make your fast little SVT even faster. And I did.

Adding the new cylinder head and cams really opened up the breathing which meant, of course, that I needed to improve the exhaust flow. Fixed that with a wicked set of headers (truly a bear to install on the transverse V6) and a complete Bassani stainless exhaust system. Vroom, vroom! Combined with a new cold air intake, the mighty V6 was making north of 300HP on pump gas. It also meant that you really needed to keep the wheels straight when you put down the gas. I eventually cured the torque steer by installing a Quaiffe limited slip and, as long as I had to take most of the right side suspension apart to install, might as well save some time by adding lower springs (with better rates) and a nice fat sway bar.

In the end, it was simply fabulous car to drive. Fast, good looking, and a real sleeper.

Ah, yes, the reference to the “second SVT”.

Well, the story goes, that Ethan and I were driving SVT number one up to northern New York for a college visit during his senior year in high school. Just north of Brandon, Vermont a lady in a VW Golf was parked on the right hand side of the road and, just as I was about to come by her, made a u-turn directly into the path of the Contour. Thank goodness it didn’t happen at highway speed or I wouldn’t be writing this. As it was, both cars were toast but the story doesn’t end quite there.

When it came time for the insurance company to settle up – the Contour was totaled – Ford had stopped selling them and there was nary a new one to be found in all the land. What to do now?  I wanted my car back, there wasn’t one to be had. In the end, the carrier wrote me a check for the last known cost of a new one. With the money, I purchased one of the last new Contour V6s left in the country and set about converting it back to the SVT I knew and loved. It took about 6 months to find all of the bits and pieces and get it all together but, in the end, it was worth it.

I ended up selling the little SVT so I could build the Cobra and still see it around town from time to time. A sweet little car.