Hot Builds: 1998 Ford SVT Contour

By Staff Writer
Sep 5, 2018 | Ford | Posted in News and Notes | From the Aug. 2015 issue | Never miss an article

The Builds and Project Cars section of our Internet community is bustling with activity. We’ll regularly feature a build from one of our readers. Follow this and other cool projects at

John F. Preston’s third Ford SVT Contour is this all-black 1998 model. When he brought it home, it had already received a limited-slip differential and D2 coil-over suspension. John upgraded the wiring harness, gave the car a functioning horn, and took advantage of a Tire Rack sale to add the Axis Sport Xcite wheels wrapped with 235/40ZR17 Sumitomo tires. He’d purchased the Mirko splitter 10 years ago and was finally able to put it to use. Unfortunately, the Contour recently encountered some bad luck: A clutch failure has landed it on the sidelines.

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View comments on the GRM forums
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/6/18 7:55 a.m.

Were the stock SVT gages white in these cars?  

Like this. 

Tom_Spangler GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/6/18 8:12 a.m.

Yes, they were. I think all 90s-era SVT Fords had white gauges.

As a former CSVT owner who still considers it to be one of the best cars I've owned, I heartily endorse this project!

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/6/18 8:52 a.m.

I've always liked these, but apparently the wiring harness falls apart and is NLA.

Non-running ones appear fairly regularly on CL around here.

te72 Reader
9/6/18 11:05 p.m.

That car has a nice presence, I like it!

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/7/18 9:31 a.m.

i missed one a few years ago when my buddy didn't tell me he was going to trade it in at his local CarMax.  with 120k on the odo and needing front wheel bearings, CM sent it to auction the day after he traded it in.  i had driven it about a year earlier and told him that i wanted dibs.   oh well, can't save 'em all.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/7/18 2:40 p.m.

There is on on the local cl for 1800. The thing is they are advertising the $800 stereo more than the car. I was thinking of offering them $800 for it and they keep the stereo.  

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/7/18 2:41 p.m.
jimbbski Dork
9/7/18 3:28 p.m.

I owned a '00  SVT from 2004-2013. I sold it to another Contour owner who was happy to buy it. I later saw it for sale 2-3 years later and he was asking more then I sold it for. I liked the car fine but while I'm a Ford guy I felt that the car was a bit cheap/weak in the performance side. That is the front wheel bearings and hubs won't hold up to any kind of track duty with sticky tires and I had weird things go wrong that I had to fix as no shop would touch it.

Appleseed MegaDork
9/7/18 6:08 p.m.

3.0 swap after you blow the 2.5 in a sustained right hander.

CyberEric HalfDork
9/7/18 6:41 p.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

I always wanted one of these, but that issue always scared me off.

Appleseed MegaDork
9/7/18 6:59 p.m.

I wonder if an Accusump would help?

hondahondahonda None
9/10/18 8:43 p.m.
ThatsNoUsername GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/10/18 8:54 p.m.

Cool car, now i have something else to add to my craigslist search

Strike_Zero UltraDork
9/10/18 10:27 p.m.

One of the few FWD cars that I really enjoyed driving. That 2.5 is a gem of a power plant.

Chris_V UberDork
9/11/18 7:50 a.m.

Had a '99 from new. Loved that car. Drove it from Seattle to Baltimore to move over here. Autocrossed it many times, and loved how balanced it was, almost driving like a RWD car with power oversteer. And the sound was outstanding. Would love to find another like it (red/tan):

boofighter HalfDork
9/11/18 8:54 a.m.

Do you remember when Ford sold cars? 

_ Reader
9/11/18 2:53 p.m.

What’s stopping these from making huge power? (and apparently drag racing, since cornering is a bad idea...)

9/12/18 7:10 p.m.

I had a 1999 with a nice rod knock after I got it home.  Did a 3.0 swap.  What an awesome sounding car, great fun to drive.  I followed it with a WRX...

Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
9/12/18 7:45 p.m.

I guess, based on some of the comments, those are the ones that handle well enough to eat the crankshaft.  I think Canton made an oil pan that was a must-have for any kind of twisty roads.

jimbbski Dork
9/13/18 9:11 a.m.

As a former owner of a SVT I will comment on the "rod issue" with the 2.5L V6.  One was bolt stretch and the loss of preload in the rod bearings and the other was the loss of oil pressure or at least oil flow to the bottom end.  The first was caused by high RPM's the second was pour oil pan design. Ford designed an engine that would rev well past 6K but used bolts and rods that were designed for an engine used by your granny going to the store.

Upgrading to the 3.0L engine; with some versions better than others; was common when the 2.5L let go.

Storz SuperDork
9/13/18 10:17 a.m.

Very cool, friend of mine in HS had one. They sound glorious 

rogerbvonceg Reader
9/13/18 1:15 p.m.

Had a '96 SE a long time ago. Wiring harness discorporated right after 100k. Traded it for an Acura.

Lightly modded to STS rules. Total blast to drive. 

Autocrossed a few times, but I wasn't very good at it (to be honest). There was always another guy with an SVT who did very well with his.

Some fond memories, but yes, kind of cheap on the interior bits and weird problems, and really no excuse for the wiring harness.

GTwannaB GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/13/18 11:36 p.m.

I remember my V6 SE as a poor mans BMW. The repairs made me poor anyway but I loved the way it drove and always wanted a SVT. Ended up eventually with a SVT cousin in the Focus. 

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