Skid pad

Ford Contour

The Ford Contour is a passenger car manufactured and marketed by Ford Motor Company in North America. It was the American rendition of Ford's CDW27 world car program that resulted also in Contour's twin, the first-generation Ford Mondeo made and sold elsewhere around the globe. The Contour also had a Mercury version called Mercury Mystique. Both were available in 4-door sedan body style only. The Contour and Mystique replaced previous Ford's North American mid-range models, the Ford Tempo and Mercury Topaz, and were classified by EPA as compact cars.

The Contour and Mystique debuted in late 1994 as 1995 models, and continued until 2000, when they went out of production without a direct replacement in Ford's lineup in USA and Canada, while in Mexico Ford replaced the Contour with a locally manufactured variant of the European Ford Mondeo.

Development

Development of the Contour, Mystique and the Mondeo in Europe was a major project for Ford Motor Company. Reportedly US$6 billion was invested in the development of the CDW27 platform. While the Mondeo has been afforded three body styles (4-door sedan, 5-door liftback and a station wagon), the North American variants were developed as sedans only. The cars ended up slightly larger than the Tempo and Topaz.

Marketing

Initially, three trim levels were available for the Contour a base GL, a more luxurious LX and a sporty SE trim. A , 2.0 L Zetec inline four-cylinder engine was standard on the GL and LX models, while a 170 hp 2.5 L Duratec V6 was standard on SE models and optional on the GL and LX models. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on all models, with a 4-speed automatic as an option. Prices ranged from about USD 14,000 for base GL versions to just under USD 20,000 for an SE with all available options. However, in April 1996, Ford produced a "Sport" model in both the 2.0 L four-cylinder and 2.5 L V6. The "Sport" model was an option in both SE and GL series and featured 9 inch "Sport Drums".

The Mystique was initially available in entry-level GS and upscale LS. An unnamed base model was also available from the 1997 through 1999 model years.

Restyle

In 1998, Ford restyled the Contour and Mystique. The restyle was based on the facelifted Mondeo which had been launched in Europe two years earlier.

Ford has also added a SVT version for the Contour, which utilized a specially tuned and modified version of the 2.5 L V6 that produced (1998 MY) / (1999/2000MY) and was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission. Also included with the SVT Contour was new bodywork, seats and trim, white-faced gauges, larger wheels with ultra high performance tires, upgraded brakes and a retuned suspension. The Contour SVT was available primarily by special order by specially designated Ford dealerships.

End of the Contour

After the 2000 model year, the Contour was canceled because of decreasing sales, and the Kansas City plant was retooled to build the Ford Escape.

Engines

Year-to-year changes

1996

  • The backs of the front seats were recessed, improving rear seat leg room
  • Rear seat cushions were repositioned to increase room
  • Chrome bumper strips were dropped, resulting in bumpers that were monochromatic (completely body color)
  • Seven-spoke alloy wheels become standard for SE model
  • Split rear seats now available on all models
  • The powertrain control module was changed to the newer EEC-V to be OBD2 compliant
  • Manual transmission was reworked for easier shifts

1997

  • New value-priced base models introduced in late 1997 for both Contour and Mystique
  • Traction control is dropped as an option.
  • Added interior trunk light
  • Steering wheels now tilt
  • Power antenna added
  • Heated mirrors are dropped as an option
  • Remote fuel door release is dropped
  • Mystique - optional CD player and power front seats (standard on LS, optional on GS)

1998

  • New design for front and rear fascias, including a chrome grille and larger headlights; Mystique gets side Mercury emblems on the rear quarter windows
  • Mystique's interior also received new fabric choices (leather seating, previously optional, became standard on LS models) and faux wood trim to make it more upscale than the Contour
  • 5-speed manual transmission changed from rod shift to cable shift
  • High-performance Contour SVT version debuts, available only in Silver Frost, Toreador Red, and Black Ebony with Midnight Blue interior
  • Roof line altered and the rear deck shortened for improved rear seat headroom
  • Seat recliner is changed from a knob to a lever
  • Seatbelt for rear center seat is improved from 2-point to 3-point
  • New center consoles.
  • Glove box light, underhood light, and door handle lights are removed
  • Integrated rear child-safety seats optional on the Mystique

In mid-production for the 1998 model, Ford decided to make several more changes to the SVT Contour. This resulted in a noticeable distinction between early and late 1998 SVT Contours. To differentiate between the two, the late 1998 model is sometimes referred to as the "1998.5", or alternatively the early 1998 model as the "E0" and the late 1998 model as the "E1". The mid-year changes are as listed below.

  • Base and GL models are dropped, leaving the LX, SE, and SVT.
  • Split rear seats are now available only on the SE model.
  • In-dash clock is relocated to the stereo head unit display.
  • New Cobra-style SVT aluminum alloy wheels.
  • Different strut valving and tires raising skid pad numbers from .84g to .90g.

1999

  • All models are equipped with a slightly larger fuel tank (now 15.4 gal)
  • Slight change in dash design. Plastic piece around front window was eliminated
  • Seats were again altered for additional rear leg-room.
  • The 2.0 L I4 engine received an additional 5 hp
  • Contour SVT's engine rating was upped 5 hp to 200 hp due to additional abrasive flow machining of the primary and secondary intake ports
  • SVT is offered in Tropic Green
  • Revised transmission syncros to address an issue in the 98 SVT's
  • Mystique's suspension tuned for a softer ride.

2000

  • Contour LX model is dropped, leaving only the SE and SVT
  • Displacement on the Duratec V6 engine decreased slightly, but the compression ratio is increased to compensate
  • 4-cylider Contour models continue as fleet vehicles only
  • Mystique GS and LS models returned with emergency in-trunk releases. Mercury pulled the Mystique from its lineup early into the 2000 model year

Awards

The Contour and Mystique were on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1995, 1996 and 1997. The Contour was also named as an Automobile Magazine All Star for 1995, 1996 and 1997. For the SVT trim, Edmunds.com named the Contour SVT the most wanted sedan under $25,000 for the year of 1999.

References

External links

  • - ConsumerGuide.com Ford Contour 1995-2000 Prices & Review - (compares to Honda Accord)
  • - Contour.org, Contour Enthusiasts Group (CEG)
  • - FordContour.Org, (FCO)

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