Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique (Mistake?)

In the early 1990's, Ford decided to come up with a new "World Car". They introduced the Mondeo platform in Europe in 1993 and thought it would make a great replacement for the aging Tempo/Topaz models in the USA. The car was introduced in late 1994 as a 1995 model and sold well. Unfortunately by 1997 when the smaller Escort and Tracer were redesigned, the Contour/Mystique were about the same size as the new Escort range, and were pretty much obsolete. The front end was redesigned in 1998 along with the taillights and the cars continued through 1999 and 2000 with little to no changes.

An SVT Contour was produced but isn't what I would consider a beater. Catering to the same crowd as the Taurus SHO, it was a performance model and was very competent.

Standard (non-SVT) Contours and Mystiques are generally plagued with electrical problems and do not have what I would consider to be "reliable" powertrains. I often see used Contours in nice condition for well under $2000. Typically, the "for sale" Contour has some kind of no-start problem, a failed transmission, or electrical gremlins, and for $500 or significantly less. A recent Dallas Craigslist ad had two 1997 Contours for $600. That's not two cars priced at $600 each but both cars for the one price of $600. These are best left to ASE certified professionals with a lot of time on their hands.

My ex-wife drives a Mystique. I would say something about karma but that would be counterproductive as far as karma is concerned.

A coworker of mine at a courier service drove a 1999 Contour and generally was able to drive for two weeks before making some sort of repair (often for the same thing he fixed a few months prior). That's about 3000 miles, or one oil change interval, between repairs. I don't think he ever got his cruise control working the entire time I knew him.

For more details on the Contour and Mystique, visit the enthusiast site at Contour.org. The forums are an excellent place to read up on quick fixes, troubleshooting, how-tos, upgrades, and more. You can also visit the Contour wikipedia page. Ford Forums also has a Contour forum.

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