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    Thread: Adding a new ride to the stable but before I do, educate me: SVT Contour

    1. Member RollingInDubs's Avatar
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      05-21-2012 10:52 PM #1
      Just as the title says,

      I've lusted for an SVT Contour ever since I rode in one back in high school. Well I sold my ATV, which gave me the ability to go out and find a new toy.

      What I found was an ultra-clean SVT Contour with incredibly low miles. I've put my offer in on it, and am hoping to get the paperwork rolling sometime either tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.

      So my question to TCL is this, what should I be looking out for? What are the weak links on these cars? Anybody ever owned one?

      Also, in the interest of the time warp nature of the car in question, I have absolutely NO PLANS for modding. All I want is a fun weekend ride to offset my truck every now and again.

      So TCL...hit me with it.



    2. Member SAV912's Avatar
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      05-21-2012 11:16 PM #2
      Axles are a weak link, they can bust if you launch the car too hard too many times. The oil pick up can starve the engine if you do sustained high speed right turns but a revised pan from an Escape can fix that issue pretty easily. Sometimes you might hear some 'moosing' on cold start up but I don't recall if it is just normal operation or not.

      There are several other CSVT lurkers here. PM username Todras, he has extensive knowledge and I remember his ridiculous swaps (3.0L Hybrids and such) from my old days on Contour.org.

      I had one back in high school and early college before it was wrecked and I miss it dearly. The sound of the Duratec V6 is absolutely intoxicating. It is the best V6 sound I've ever heard, right up there with Alfas and VR6 VWs.

      Do it. It will be awesome. They are getting pretty rare now and the days of finding a clean unmolested one are numbered.
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    3. Member Shomegrown's Avatar
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      05-21-2012 11:18 PM #3
      If you get one, make sure it doesn't have a ****ty clutch like the video you posted.

    4. Member 80_quattro_'s Avatar
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      05-21-2012 11:28 PM #4
      oil leaks are common, and the rods are like toothpicks...but in stock form, should live a happy life...all the ones i have driven (ford dealership) all had mushy motor mounts, and weak clutches...oh yea and its called the Ford Detour


    5. 05-22-2012 12:34 AM #6
      Looks like old Ford sport sedan iron is becoming CL darlings.

      I may be adding one to my stable soon too if all goes well.
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    6. Member zhenya00's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 12:39 AM #7
      Wasn't this car a frequent guest in the 'cars mechanics least like to work on' thread?
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    7. 05-22-2012 12:50 AM #8
      They were excellent cars a decade ago. I haven't seen a good one in years unfortunately and I doubt you'd find one. MOST have been hammered to death as they became really cheap and otherwise suffered (or survived, depending on your outlook) as well as the build quality of any Contour would allow.

      I'm sure a few enthusiasts didn't grow out of one to a BMW or Audi and keeps a low mileage one stashed in the garage, but don't count on finding it.
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    8. 05-22-2012 12:52 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by Jrod511 View Post
      They were excellent cars a decade ago. I haven't seen a good one in years unfortunately and I doubt you'd find one. MOST have been hammered to death as they became really cheap and otherwise suffered (or survived, depending on your outlook) as well as the build quality of any Contour would allow.

      I'm sure a few enthusiasts didn't grow out of one to a BMW or Audi and keeps a low mileage one stashed in the garage, but don't count on finding it.
      They are out there. You just need to know where to look.
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    9. 05-22-2012 12:57 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by GolfVIDriver View Post
      They are out there. You just need to know where to look.
      You ain't finding a nice one of NOTHIN' in SoFla. Agreed?
      22691
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    10. Member GTIDamien_407's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 01:00 AM #11
      meh I think its pretty ugly and say its just as fast as a vr or slower
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    11. 05-22-2012 01:05 AM #12
      Thats because you know nothing.
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    12. 05-22-2012 01:07 AM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by Jrod511 View Post
      You ain't finding a nice one of NOTHIN' in SoFla. Agreed?
      Agreed on that count. LOL!

      Stay tuned. I have a line on something I thought I'd never find.
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    13. Member mobile363's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 01:47 AM #14
      My advice would have been to not buy it. But that is personal preference.

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      05-22-2012 02:08 AM #15
      in for SVT.

      i remember car searching in high school (~2003), and the Contour SVT was at the top of my list. none were affordable at the time though. my parents' neighbor has an insanely clean red one that made me really start liking them - the sound alone drew me in.

      good luck, and update this when you purchase it.
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    15. Member VadGTI's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 02:49 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by GTIDamien_407 View Post
      meh I think its pretty ugly and say its just as fast as a vr or slower
      Riiiight... I'd love to see this "vr" up against a Contour SVT on a road course.

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      05-22-2012 03:36 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by GTIDamien_407 View Post
      meh I think its pretty ugly and say its just as fast as a vr or slower
      24v would have a chance in a straight line, but not as soon as you hit a turn. 12v is not even close...
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    17. 05-22-2012 04:26 AM #18
      so there are people who look for those ugly cars...
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      Quote Originally Posted by C4 A6 View Post
      Keep in mind the noise you hear in an S2000 is the ENGINE, and not the exhaust note that VR6 people jizz over. I'd rather have a nice sounding engine than a nice sounding exhaust.

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      05-22-2012 08:12 AM #19
      An SVT Contour is fun in a moderate time warp sort of way. They are not blazingly fast, but the handling is well sorted.

      In stock form, the engine will last. My engine lasted but the overall package had some niggling faults - wheel bearings, oxygen sensors, etc - nothing that VW owners aren't used to.

      Remove the airbox and the engine sound is absolutely intoxicating.

      If it's clean, go for it.

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      05-22-2012 08:18 AM #20
      Just sold mine to a friend... owned this one for 5 years, put 40+ thousand miles on it, and it needed nothing except for an alternator, and battery. It was a great car for me. Never let me down, drove, and sounded great... ran consistent 15.1 quarter miles. I actually miss it. I bought one new in 2000, and still own a beater one. I will agree that clean, unmolested ones are getting hard to find. I'd say go for it.


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      05-22-2012 08:30 AM #21
      I love mine (bought off Todras), but I would like to sell it as something else caught my interest. It has been reliable since i bought it, only having to rewire the speakers until now. I'm having the dealership do a front wheel bearing and the found out that I also need n axle and a tie rod end. So that's next.
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    21. Member Slipstream's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 08:38 AM #22
      I had a Cougar (same underpinnings) and mine went through alternators like candy. I'm sure a better-designed aftermarket version would probably take care of it though. Intake manifold relay control (IMRC) boxes tend to go bad too, although if I recall there was a relatively inexpensive fix to keep them going a while longer.

      As someone else said, there's no room to do anything under the hood.

      As someone else said, it's probably one of the better sounding V6s America has ever had.
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    22. Member DMACK's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 08:47 AM #23
      I used to smoke my friends svt contour with my 12 valve vr6 all the time, only had a intake and exhaust. Must be ****ty vr6 drivers.

    23. 05-22-2012 08:49 AM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by DMACK View Post
      I used to smoke my friends svt contour with my 12 valve vr6 all the time, only had a intake and exhaust. Must be ****ty vr6 drivers.
      On a road course?

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      05-22-2012 08:50 AM #25
      Check for broken springs.

    25. Member MotownSVT's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 09:05 AM #26
      OP, if it's clean and you can afford it, do it. Most of the common issues have been mentioned already... if the car was owned by a younger person, some trans issues might have exposed themselves. Powershifting was not something that the ol' MTX-75 would put up with. Control arm bushings don't last very long (my front right was gone at 37K), but when the entire control arm costs $35 and about 45 minutes to swap out, it's not a huge deal. I think someone mentioned the o2 sensor already (code 0420 IIRC) and that's pretty common. I had it but never worried about it because we don't have emissions testing in Michigan, so I'd just pull the scan tool from the office, go to the parking lot and clear the code every month when it'd trip the Check Engine light.

      Outside of oil changes/coolant flush, I think those 50,000 miles cost me 2 sets of tires (one summer and a set of Blizzaks for the winter), the aforementioned control arm and $100 for a B&M shifter (which I'd completely recommend no only for the feel but for the fact that the stock shifter is pretty tall and you'll get sick of changing the radio station accidentally every time you nail a sweet 2-3 shift ). I was still on the original pads/rotors when I sold it back in '04 and not a day goes by that I don't miss it.
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      05-22-2012 09:09 AM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by DMACK View Post
      I used to smoke my friends svt contour with my 12 valve vr6 all the time, only had a intake and exhaust. Must be ****ty vr6 drivers.
      the recorded times say that's not going to be the case. Must a have been racing SVT owners who weren't really racing.

      I lvoed mine for the three years I had it, including autocrossing it. The way it was balanced around a road course or autocross course had people asking me when Ford started making RWD Contours. One of the best handling stock vehciles of it's class there is. If you can find an unmolested one, go for it.

      Mine:





      Comfy for the long drive across the country from Seattle to Baltimore, and supportive for autocrossing. And yeah, one fo the best sounding stock engines around.
      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    27. 05-22-2012 09:54 AM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by E34M50 View Post
      so there are people who look for those ugly cars...
      Kind of like people who buy MkIII VWs? Sure!

      The difference is SVTs handle, and are fast. You should try one.
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    28. Senior Member 6cylVWguy's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 10:28 AM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by GolfVIDriver View Post
      The difference is SVTs handle, and are fast.
      Fast? In a straight line? No they aren't. They're actually pretty slow in a straight line according to a motor trend review (http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/...html)--passing the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds is almost embarrassing for a performance car of that age. A 12v VR6 would easily keep up with this vehicle in a straight line. At just over 3000 lbs a car with that much hp should be a good amount faster. Maybe if it had a 6-speed manual it would be a fair amount faster.

      Handling? I have no doubt that it's an excellent car in that respect and should be quite a bit more communicative and responsive than the 12v VR6 cars--and probably many other so-called performance cars.

    29. Member DMACK's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 10:34 AM #30
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris_V View Post
      the recorded times say that's not going to be the case. Must a have been racing SVT owners who weren't really racing.
      Or maybe I had a really good freak motor or they just cant drive. Pretty easy to tell someone whos giving it when it ranks like carbon and gross nasty **** out of their exhaust. Im talking about a straight line.

      My friend went through 2 engines and 1 transmission in 3 years of owning a svt contour.

      But then again they have more moves than a cat those cars.

      I wanted one but opted for the vr6 when my friends contour svt kept breaking down.

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      05-22-2012 10:35 AM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by 6cylVWguy View Post
      Fast? In a straight line? No they aren't. They're actually pretty slow in a straight line according to a motor trend review (http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/...html)--passing the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds is almost embarrassing for a performance car of that age. A 12v VR6 would easily keep up with this vehicle in a straight line. At just over 3000 lbs a car with that much hp should be a good amount faster. Maybe if it had a 6-speed manual it would be a fair amount faster.

      Handling? I have no doubt that it's an excellent car in that respect and should be quite a bit more communicative and responsive than the 12v VR6 cars--and probably many other so-called performance cars.
      Like I said... mine ran 15.1's (actual numbers w/ timeslips to prove... not just anecdotal evidence) all day with the only mod being a cone airfilter. Not many performance sedans (or hot hatches VR6/ Integra Type R included) were faster in 1998.... especially at the price these were new.

      Quote Originally Posted by DMACK View Post
      Or maybe I had a really good freak motor or they just cant drive. Pretty easy to tell someone whos giving it when it ranks like carbon and gross nasty **** out of their exhaust. Im talking about a straight line.

      My friend went through 2 engines and 1 transmission in 3 years of owning a svt contour.

      But then again they have more moves than a cat those cars.

      I wanted one but opted for the vr6 when my friends contour svt kept breaking down.
      Sounds like a well cared for example.
      Last edited by saron81; 05-22-2012 at 10:38 AM.

    31. Member GTIDamien_407's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 10:36 AM #32
      meh 12v vr's roll contours all day




      And if anything your most likely not going to be racing someone at a track but at the lights or at the drag strip. But anyways if you wanna play that game an SVT is about 6 grand average in good condition a MK3 VR6 Jetta/ GTI is about 2.5-3.5 grand.

      So that leaves you with approx $3000 for mods to make it better...

      So the list

      High end coilovers ( koni, bilstein, kw's, st's etc) - approx $800-1300 ( or you can get a cup kit for cheaper)
      Tires ( Falken Azenis, Toyo R888's etc ) - approx $500 in size 205/50/15 ( i think thats the mk3 size?)
      Bigger RSB - about $300
      Nice street camshaft - about $400-450
      eprom - about $100-150
      cat back - $300ish
      Front crossdrilled rotors and better pads - About $250

      So were looking at a total approx $2650- 3700 depending on how many mods you do. With the listed mods you're looking at a nice power gain of about 15-20hp at least and a vast improvment in handling.

      Pros of the mk3 vr6

      - fairly quick
      - reliable and going 300,000km's+ is no problem
      - nicely equipped
      - handlings alright stock
      - good looks
      - functional and gets decent mpg's

      con's

      - they tend to rust out if not cared for properly (only an issue if you drive it in the winter obviously)
      - some issue with coilpacks ( good excuse to upgrade to msd ignition for around the same price as coilpacks)

      Last edited by GTIDamien_407; 05-22-2012 at 10:42 AM.
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      05-22-2012 10:37 AM #33
      Oh noes.... here come the Emm Kay three kids.

    33. Member Foxtrot's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 10:44 AM #34
      2.5 duratec had an oil starvation problem, so its not uncommon for contours eat their rod bearings by 120K. It wouldn't stop me from buying personally, but it is something to be aware of when looking.
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      05-22-2012 10:46 AM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by Foxtrot View Post
      2.5 duratec had an oil starvation problem, so its not uncommon for contours eat their rod bearings by 120K. It wouldn't stop me from buying personally, but it is something to be aware of when looking.
      They actually redisigned the pan in 1999 (and again in 2001) to cure this. It was mostly a problem with early 98 (E0) cars.

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