Well, Ford likes to simplify instrument clusters and cut back on printing to maintain costs. On a Ford Taurus instrument cluster for example, I have seen it change several times, removing additional markers and colors from the cluster. Here are some changes I’ve found with the Contour cluster. I didn’t go into the tachometer because it really stays the same with the exception of the V6 and SVT labeling.

Early 1995 Models – The temperature gauge shows a white marker block, then the word “normal” and then a red marker block. Gas gauge shows a red/white marker for the empty indicator. A picture of a gas pump is shown with an arrow facing right to indicate the side where the filler nozzle is located. Below the needle the text “unleaded fuel only” is listed. The trip odometer reset button is left of the steering wheel, and the tenth mile wheel is black with yellowish text.

Late 1995 Models and 1996 Models – The Contour was modified and the speedometer cable was removed to be electronically controlled. With that change, the trip odometer reset button was moved to the right of the steering wheel. The tenth mile wheel was changed to white with black text. On the speedometer, the numbers are now facing outward with the markers facing inward, although this changed never affected the cluster with the tachometer. The red/white empty marker on the gas gauge is now red. The font style on the odometer and trip odometer now has a bolder look.

1997 Models – On the gas gauge, the arrow pointing right by the gas pump is removed. The text “unleaded fuel only” is removed.

1998 Models – On the gas gauge, the red marker for the empty indicator is now white and the ½ text for the half-a-tank marker has been removed. Some warning indicators got moved around and a few were added. (Low fuel warning and fog light indicator). “Premium fuel only” was added to the gas gauge but only for the SVT models.

1998.5 Models – The word “normal” is removed from the temperature gauge, leaving only a band. C for cool and H for hot are now added to the markers. The markers become slightly thinner.