Remember the SVT Contour? You'd be forgiven if you didn't. Pitched as an affordable American-made alternative to German sports sedans, the SVT Contour was only in production from 1998 to 2000, with less than 11,500 units sold. The SVT Contour wasn't a success, but it's a car worth remembering.
As this video from The Smoking Tire reminds us, the SVT Contour was a credible sports sedan in its day, and it's still fun now. The Contour SE's 2.5-liter V6 was tuned by Ford's Special Vehicle Team to produce 200 horsepower for the SVT and it was paired with a five-speed manual—no autos were available. The front strut and multilink rear suspension received significant upgrades, too, which helped make the SVT Contour one of the nicer-handling front-wheel drive cars of its day.
But from the factory, the SVT Contour was too softly sprung since Ford didn't want to compromise what was ultimately a family sedan. Plus, it was fairly expensive, too, with a $23,000 MSRP. That made it cheaper than most BMWs—save for the lowly 318ti—but pricy among sport compacts.
So, the SVT Contour didn't make much of a dent, but it makes an interesting used car buy today. The owner of the one featured in this Smoking Tire video paid $1000 for his, and on Bring a Trailer last year. The biggest issue is that there just weren't that many built, so they never really come up for sale. If you find one, you might want to act quickly.