How to modify:

/ modifying guide / Focus ST170 /
How to modify:
Focus ST170
The Focus is a great-handling car, and the ST170 had plenty of power. That
doesn’t mean it can’t be made even better, though...
Words: Neil Photos: Jon Hill
the Focus was
first released, it
won major acclaim from the public and
media alike. But if you stomped into a
Ford dealership with a handful of cash
asking for a fast Focus to exploit that
tidy chassis, you’d have been shown in
the direction of a 2.0-litre Zetec.
However, by the time the revamped
Focus came on to the market, Ford had
given the public what they wanted in
the form of the ST170. The 170 came
with a six-speed Durashift manual
gearbox for making the most of the
engine’s 170 bhp. This gave a 0-60
Engine swaps
dash of 7.9 seconds and a top end of
134 mph. The ST170 also saw revisions
to the handling to turn it into an even
sharper car.
The motoring press now felt the
car’s chassis could easily handle more
power. When put against the likes of
Type-R Civics, many dismissed it as a
case of ‘could do better’. This is where
you come in. With some well thoughtout mods, you’ll be able to revamp and
boost your ST170 into a subtle B-road
killer or attention-grabbing show pony.
So release the potential of the first fast
Foci and get busy.
The Zetec that lies in the bay of the
170 is already a highly tuned unit.
Compared to many other 2.0-litre
naturally aspirated engines, it already
has a good 30-40 bhp more, meaning
there’s little room for improvement
on a budget.
Superchips has managed to
release 12 bhp and 10 lb.ft by using
its clever Bluefin applications. For
just £299, it’s good value, too. Pound
for lbf.ft, the best value mod has to
be fitting an adjustable exhaust cam
pulley and belt from Kent Cams. The
kit is relatively easy to fit (see
September 2005 issue), and if set up
correctly on a rolling road should see
around 10 bhp. Not bad for an
investment of about £100.
The usual exhaust and air filter
route may see a few bhp released,
but don’t expect miracles. The main
reason for buying those would be for
the sound, because the Ford stuff is
already well up to the job.
If you want to see some authentic
gains from your exhaust system, you
need to speak to Pumaspeed about
its newly developed Milltek range
specifically for the ST170. You’ll have
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everything you need – from decat and sport cats, to cat-back
and flexi pipes.
There might be the
opportunity for a spot of
porting and polishing, along
with hotter cams, but only
minimal gains will be seen for
a large cash outlay. A bettervalue and sweet-sounding
choice would be a set of
throttle bodies. Couple this
with some quality
management, such as
Omex, and you’ll have one
very trick N/A engine.
Consider a nitrous oxide
kit for a cost-effective hike in power.
If the laughing gas isn’t a permanent
enough kick and throttle bodies
aren’t your bag, then forced
induction is the way forward.
Supercharging is something that’s
slowly catching on within the Focus
fraternity, but do your research.
Streetracers are importing a Vortex
supercharger kit for the ST, and while
it’s hard to give you an exact figure,
expect the conversion to cost
around £4500-£5000. It does sound a
lot of
money, but the blower will
see a completely standard engine
produce somewhere between 230240 bhp, so it’s not to be sniffed at.
The Zetec is no stranger to
turbocharging but because the
engine’s a high-compression lump,
it would be unwise to take the boost
beyond 5 psi. You could go further
but it would require low-comp
pistons and possibly a rebore, and
you’d be looking at £10,000.
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When it comes to engine swaps, it’s a bit of a
no-brainer – it has to be the fantastic Focus
RS lump. Packing a turbo and good power,
you’re already on to a winner, not to mention
the seemingly endless tuning potential. We
already know of a couple of RS Foci pushing
out over 400 bhp!
For this conversion, you’ll ideally need a
crashed/sourced RS Focus to have it side-byside with the ST170 for the switch. That way,
all parts will be to hand and ready to swap
over. If it’s something you don’t have the
confidence to do yourself, then Pumaspeed
will do the conversion for you. Bank on the
labour alone coming to around £1500,
though. Then you’ll need to add the cost of
the parts on top. Call them for a full
rundown if you’re serious
about the swap.
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Fast Ford january 2007
/ modifying guide / Focus ST170 /
Thankfully, the ST comes with a Getrag
close-ratio six-speed gearbox, and it’s
a tough old boot. So far, we’ve yet to
hear any stories of shearing the teeth
from gears or diffs exploding – neither
have we heard any whispers of
driveshafts breaking. So on that front it
seems the factory has blessed you
with a hardy tool to begin with.
It’s a different story with the clutch,
though. It tends to be a little weak
when you put it under pressure. Your
best bet is to get in touch with the likes
of AP Racing or Helix and have a chat
about fitting something more hardwearing. No doubt weaknesses will
start to appear with the six-speeder
once age and massive horsepower
begin to take their toll, but we believe
it’s going to be a good while before we
see the need to fit RS boxes and
differentials into the ST. Just enjoy
what the good Ford gave you. For a
slicker and quicker gearchange, a B&M
quickshift may be a useful addition to
the party.
Halogen lights
are a worthwhile
mod to carry out
Little touches go
a long way
The ST is a nice-looking motor but
it’s a bit plain for some. Great if you
want the subtle approach, but it’s
not really a head-turner. If stealth is
your game then keep it simple and
neat, with maybe some dark rear
lights (personal touches are the key).
If you want to turn heads then it
depends on your taste. You could go
RS-style and build a replica, but if
Neat styling
tweaks set this
170 apart from
the pack
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want something more original then
you’re in luck because the UK and
US have a huge styling scene for the
Foci, ranging from loud and lairy to
subtle. We recently saw an ST170
with smoothed bumpers and
shaved door handles – it looked
great and kept you guessing as to
what had been done.
If you want a bigger impact, look
into kits such as the Atomic from
Essex Racing. It costs £550, and
with Morette headlights and
a carbon bonnet, you’ll
soon be snapping necks.
/ modifying guide / Focus ST170 /
As it’s one of the newer breed of Fords, the
ST170’s been blessed with a snug and
sporty interior already. The six-way
adjustable seats are good lookers, and are
capable of holding you in place on a gentle
drive or on track.
For upgrades, an RS Focus interior will fly
in but they’re costly. Your best bet would be
to get the half-leather ST seats retrimmed
in full glorious cow skin for some extra
luxury, or sell them to fund some lush
Cobra Misano buckets. These are
adjustable so you’ll still have access to the
rear seats for practicality, while looking
track-ready at the same time.
For a few personal touches, look through
the small ads for pedal sets, gearknobs and
steering wheels. This will all add to the
sporty feel of the hatchback.
The ST170
interior is nice,
but this is better
Fitting 17s to a Focus is child’s play and will
require no cutting or arch rolling. Your planned
use of the car should play a huge factor in
deciding which wheels to go for. If you’re
building a looker then there’s a whole world of
fancy wheels out there for you. Just remember
the phrase ‘the lighter the better’.
The Focus will take 18s without much hassle
providing they’re the correct offset and the tyres
are a sensible profile. If you’re looking to go
larger still, 19s will go on. They do look fantastic
but they won’t be the best for driveability if
you’re considering track use. They may require a
set of coil-overs to give you the option to set the
hardness so rubbing isn’t an issue.
The Focus is
blessed with
huge arches so
go large
Left. This is
what a well-sorted ST looks like
FRS seats aren’t
cheap but they
are damn good
A spot of colour coding
never hurts
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Fast Ford january 2007
Good brakes from the
factory but they can
be improved
Finally, a Ford that comes with good brakes
from the factory. Packing 300 mm discs on
the front and 280 mm items on the rear
(compared with 258 mm and 253 mm on
the standard Focus), and with the addition of
four-channel ABS, traction control and the
additional Electronic Stability Programme, it
all makes for good stopping prowess.
Owners of lesser Fords are already fitting ST
brakes to their cars, so that’s an encouraging
sign that they do the business.
For further improvements, grab a set of
braided lines to reduce brake-line distortion
and a better feel through the pedal.
Aftermarket brake pads are a sensible
upgrade because they can better cope with
higher temperatures, improve your stopping
distance and be a little lighter on the
corrosive brake dust. Then maybe a set of
cross-drilled discs, such as Black Diamonds,
would be useful in scrubbing off the speed.
Stopping faster also requires more beefy
callipers. Look into fitting a set of Brembos
from a Focus RS for a cheaper upgrade. If
you have track day aspirations or just want
something that makes people’s jaws drop
when they see you pull up, then get a set
of four- or humungous six-pot callipers
from the likes of AP Racing or Brembo. It’s
not cheap to do the latter two but it’s
undeniably the best way of bringing your
car to a halt.
The Focus has been blessed with
great body control, fantastic grip and
a nice compromise between good
handling and a smooth ride. With the
ST170, you get stiffer springs, new
dampers and front control arms. The
21 mm anti-roll bars are stock Focus,
but on the ST you have a new
polyurethane rear drop link bush.
With the dampers
being so good,
many owners just
opt for some
uprated springs.
Larkspeed can provide you
with some quality Eibach units for
£147.50, giving you a 30 mm drop.
It would be a nice improvement, not
only for looks but because you’re
lowering the centre of gravity, which
will help you even more when you’re
attacking the corners.
With the stock stuff being so
good, skip the normal suspension
upgrades and plump for a Gaz
coil-over kit. Gaz has a full range of
suspension goodies and will tailormake them for your car and
intended use. This is great if you
fancy any track action because you
can adjust them as you see fit. For
added feedback and stiffness, fit a
set of Powerflex poly bushes and
front and rear strut braces.
Handling is a
Focus strong
point but they
can sit a tad high
january 2007
/ modifying guide / Focus ST170 /
Mine all mine...
Our mod guide model for this month
belongs to Andrew Molloy. This isn’t
the first Focus that Ford Sport
member Andrew has owned. Before
the ST he had a 2.0-litre ESP, but his
Dad bought an ST and never got to
grips with it.
“He just didn’t really like it,” says
Andrew with a laugh. “He felt it was
too stiff and he wasn’t a fan of the
gearbox, among other gripes. I just
think he’s too old for it. It was always
going to go for the right money if I
bought it off him, so I had to get it.”
Getting the ST at a low price meant
there was more money left over for
mods and he’s done a good job,
finding a tidy balance between styling,
ICE and performance. On the outside,
neat styling touches such as the
Xenon headlights make the ST
different from the norm, while the
graphics give a welcome
impact to the looks.
He hasn’t mucked about
with the inside, either, and
quickly sourced himself a
totally complete interior from
an RS. “It came from a
scrapyard where someone
had put an RS on its roof. I had
absolutely everything from
the interior and bolted it in. It
wasn’t cheap but the prices
from Ford itself are ridiculous
so I think I got a bargain,”
explains Andrew.
Having a boot full of ICE is always
going to take the edge off the
acceleration. To combat this, Andrew’s
Duratec runs a Focus Central 65 mm
throttle body, K&N, Kent exhaust
pulley, de-cat pipe and a Bluefin. With
all these in place, he reckons on
having close to 200 bhp to play with.
For finishing touches he’s used the
services of Lee at Fusion Fabrication
to make him tons of shiny
underbonnet detailing, and for
maximum effect he has a Fusion cage
bolted neatly into place.
It’s all looking good for Andrew’s
ST170, with a tour of the major shows
last year already under its belt and no
doubt more in the upcoming 2007
season. He did leave us saying that
he’s already eyeing up a possible big
brake package from the likes of
Brembo and AP. We think it won’t be
long before Andrew’s pampered ST is
boasting some of the best brakes
money can buy, in keeping with the
rest of his car. Good work.
01924 360260
0116 2698885
Cobra Seats
01952 684020
Essex Racing
01268 775002
Gaz shocks
01268 724585
Fusion Fabrication
Flexi pipe De-cat Lowering springs Brake discs
Pads £100
Ford Focus Owners Club
ST Owners Club
Focus ST Owners Club
Andrew’s Focus is
a winner with us
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