Ford Contour Parts

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Ford’s World Car

By the mid-1990s, Ford was a global brand, selling cars in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  The brand had started a “One Ford” initiative, aiming to streamline models across markets.  The goal was that Fords sold in the US and Fords sold around the world would be the same.  The Ford Contour grew out of this program. 

The Contour, released in 1995, was the North American version of the Mondeo, a car that proved quite popular in Europe.  While the Contour shared its chassis and drivetrain with the Mondeo, much of the exterior styling was changed for the US.  Here in the states, the Contour was slated as a replacement for the Tempo.  It had a sister car in the Mercury Mystique, which replaced the Topaz. 

The Contour was known for being small and nimble.  These were the factors that made the car appeal to Europeans, and many auto-journalists praised the car for its handling and ride.  Edmunds said the car offered “European moves at American prices.”  Car and Driver placed the car on its top-ten list every year from 1995 to 1998, saying “you might easily mistake it for a much more expensive European sport sedan.”  Strangely, it appeared that many Americans were not interested in a sports-sedan at a Ford price point. 

The World Car Leaves America

The Contour’s lifespan was short, only lasting one generation from 1995 to 1998.  A lack of rear leg room seemed to doom the car.  Popular Mechanics’ reviewers reported that the Contour had “marginal” leg room and suggested that the trunk space be decreased to make more room for the rear seats.  Ford instead opted to change the design of the seat cushions to add two inches of space.  Customers still wanted more room, and Ford tried various ways to increase the leg room in almost every subsequent year of the Contour. 

Ford also worked harder to position the car as a sporting model.  Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT) built a modified version of the Contour with a more powerful engine and a five-speed manual transmission.  The Contour SVT could produce 200 horsepower from its tuned V6, compared to the 170 produced by the base V6.  Sadly, even the Contour SVT wasn’t enough to drum up interest among the American buying public. 

It seems that many customers who would have considered the Contour or the Mercury Mystique ended up buying the bigger Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable.  About twice as many Tauruses and Sables sold as Contours and Mystiques in the years those models were available.  The last Contour rolled off the production line in January 2000.  It was replaced by the Ford Fusion.

Could the Contour Return? 

The Mondeo has continued to be a popular model in Europe.  It should be noted that Ford did make subsequent generations of the Mondeo larger than its initial attempt.  In the 2006 film Casino Royale, no less than James Bond drives a Mondeo.  Some have speculated that this bit of product placement was an attempt to get American audiences excited about the prospect of a sporty European sedan from Ford.  

Ford is a registered trademark of Ford Motor Company. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by Ford or Ford Motor Company. See all trademarks.

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