Bought this Contour in late 1997 with 18,000 miles, and had it ever since-2L four and 5 speed manual makes it a fun- to-drive econo car. Replaced battery and alternator at 43000 m and valve cover gasket and spark plugs at 85000 m. Mine gets great mileage and never has left me stranded. These cars might fall apart if they are flogged hard, with light construction and 2750 lb curb weight. But mine is still fun to drive and has cost me next to nothing to own.
Dependable, quiet for econo car, good driver seat comfort, nice clutch and throttle, great A/C for 90,000 miles, good handling, great mileage on regular unleaded.
Plastic dome light fell apart from sunlight on the roof, 14 inch standard wheel/tire combo is too thin for tight maneuvers, front tires will wash out, cup holder is pretty sad.