Ford SVT Contour

Performance is defined by increased power, supple road manners and balance among engine, suspension and brake systems. Substance is character built in, not added on. Exclusivity of products and dealers enhance intrinsic appeal. Value for the money is self-explanatory. All are key attributes - the core values - of the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT).

SVT's mission is to apply the best available resources, both from inside and outside Ford, to explore new ways of creating and marketing high-performance vehicles. This cross-functional team is charged with delivering limited edition, high-performance, niche-segment cars and trucks designed to delight serious drivers over a variety of road conditions and surfaces.

The nucleus of SVT is a small and close-knit group of engineers, product planners and marketing professionals. In creating an SVT vehicle, the Team draws heavily upon the talents and knowledge of other driving enthusiasts at Ford and its key suppliers in the disciplines of design, product development, manufacturing and marketing.

SVT was founded in late 1991 when Robert L. Rewey, Group Vice President Marketing and Sales, Ford Automotive Operations, saw the need for the company to investigate niche vehicle market opportunities.

The 1992 Chicago Auto Show featured the official launch of SVT and the unveiling of the '93 SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT F-150 Lightning. Both limited-edition products went on sale in February 1993. The racing version of the Fox-platform SVT Mustang, the 1993 Cobra R, arrived on the scene three months later.

Building on the solid base of the all-new SN95 platform, the second-generation SVT Mustang Cobra coupe arrived in '94. Beyond the improved strength and rigidity of the new Mustang body structure, the Cobra received improvements to its brakes, safety features, suspension tuning, engine and wheels and tires. Another first for SVT was the introduction of the SVT Cobra convertible, which paced the 1994 Indianapolis 500.

In what was perhaps the most publicized use of the 351-cid Windsor V-8, SVT installed the powerful engine in the 1995 SVT Mustang Cobra R. The '95 Cobra R was featured in almost every major automotive magazine in North America. SVT Cobra coupe and convertible models rounded out the 1995 SVT lineup, along with the highly acclaimed F-150 Lightning making its third model-year appearance.

For 1996, SVT introduced a hand-assembled 305-horsepower version of Ford's 4.6-liter four-valve V-8 to power the Cobra. SVT also took its first step beyond the U.S. market by entering the performance-enthusiast market of Canada. In February of '96, SVT returned to the Chicago Auto Show to unveil the 4.6-liter 4-valve Cobra convertible and to preview the newest SVT product, a high-performance version of the Ford Contour. The SVT Contour went on sale in the second quarter of 1997 as a '98 model.

The Ford Special Vehicle Team returned once more to the Chicago Auto Show to announce that it would introduce a new generation of SVT F-150 Lightning. The Lightning entered production in March of '99 and features a supercharged 5.4-liter Triton V-8. SVT Mustang Cobra and SVT Contour round out the 2000 SVT product lineup.

From the Cobra to the Lightning to the SVT Contour and beyond, the Special Vehicle Team's focus remains the same: to build honestly sporting vehicles with balanced performance. Toward that end, SVT vehicles must stop as well as they accelerate, ride as well as they handle - and above all, they must always be fun to drive.

Source: Ford press

Gallery: Ford SVT Contour