673BHP FO­CUS RS

“I’m not go­ing to mod­ify it.” Yeah, ev­ery­one says that, but the temp­ta­tion al­ways proves too strong to re­sist, doesn’t it? And it’s safe to say that Dar­ren Page has got more car­ried away than most with this out­ra­geous 673bhp RS…

Fast Ford - - Contents - Words DAN BEVIS / Pho­tos MATT RICHARD­SON

Men­tal Mk2 RS cer­tainly has the power to back up its looks!

It was my dad who got me into cars – and mainly Fords,” says Dar­ren Page, as we ma­noeu­vre his gleam­ing blue RS be­fore the snap­per’s lens. “If I’m hon­est, a lot of the work on this car was done sim­ply so that I could spend time with him, do­ing some­thing we both en­joy.” It’s a story we hear a lot – the au­to­mo­tive pas­sion gets passed down the gen­er­a­tions; if your mum or dad is a petrol­head, it’s pretty much a given that you will be too. And in some cases, as with Dar­ren’s Mk2 Fo­cus, this pas­sion gets nur­tured and cu­rated un­til some­thing re­ally rather ex­treme emerges.

“We were al­ways in the lo­cal main dealer, as dad knew ev­ery­one,” he con­tin­ues. “I used to col­lect the brochures they had in the show­room with the whole range of new cars in; I still have them in the par­ents’ loft in fact, right back to when you could get Mk2

Fiestas, Capris, XR4x4s and so on. I just used to sit in my room flick­ing back and forth look­ing at the pic­tures and specs.”

It was with a cer­tain in­evitabil­ity that when he grew old enough to drive, Dar­ren would find him­self own­ing a string of Fords. His back cat­a­logue pos­i­tively bris­tles with them, in­clud­ing the likes of a Se­ries 2 RS Turbo, an XR4i, a whole bunch of Orion Ghias, var­i­ous things with ST badges, a cou­ple of Mk2 Es­corts, and a Se­ries 1 RS Turbo that once graced a mag­a­zine cover – along with a whole bunch of other hot Fords. So how did this Fo­cus come about?

Well, it turned out that Dar­ren wasn’t solely ded­i­cated to the Blue Oval, and had gone down the Subaru route for a while, cre­at­ing some fairly sub­stan­tial big-power builds. Then, around four years ago, he found him­self run­ning a slammed VW T5 on banded steels along with his Se­ries 1 RS

Turbo, plus a blue car­bon-wrapped Smart, and he was pretty con­tent with his lot. But one day while Dar­ren was at work his dad popped in, and we al­ready know what kind of an in­flu­ence Page Sr can be…

“He sug­gested we pop out for a McDon­ald’s, then maybe nip down to Brighton to look at an Ul­ti­mate Green RS he’d seen at a dealer’s,” Dar­ren re­calls. “So we had our Maccy D’s, and the RS turned out to be Per­for­mance Blue, and I bought it there and then.”

Blimey. There’s noth­ing like be­ing im­pul­sive, is there? And why not, eh? Life’s too short for what-ifs, you might as well en­joy your­self. So our plucky se­rial mod­der found him­self the owner of a stock Lux 1 with 28k on the clock and, like ev­ery­one al­ways says, the plan was to keep it to­tally stan­dard and just en­joy it for what it was. Yeah, right. In al­most no time at all, Dar­ren was on the blower to Lee at Devil De­vel­op­ments, and in the twin­kling of an eye the Fo­cus was spend­ing the day there be­ing fit­ted with 750cc in­jec­tors, in­duc­tion kit, full Mill­tek de­cat sys­tem, Airtec Stage 2 in­ter­cooler, AS plenum and Revo 4+ soft­ware. All of this added up to a tidy 415bhp, which would have been plenty for most peo­ple. But Dar­ren is not most peo­ple. Be­sides, he wasn’t just do­ing this to amuse him­self. He had his old man lurk­ing in the back­ground mak­ing mis­chievous sug­ges­tions too!

A set of Eibach springs and 20mm wheel spac­ers came soon af­ter, along with the frankly dev­as­tat­ing big brake kit from K-Sport – peep through the front wheel spokes, you’ll spot the mighty 8-pot calipers. It’s al­most as if the fel­las had even more power in mind…

“It was pretty fun like this and

that was how it was go­ing to stay, un­til Lee men­tioned they had a spe­cial of­fer on forged in­ter­nals,” Dar­ren grins. “Rude not to, right? So back it went for rods and pis­tons, belts and so on. About a thou­sand miles later I was with my dad rac­ing a mate down a run­way, and at about 160mph we had what later turned out to be a slight com­po­nent fail­ure – a bit scary, but the lovely man from the RAC got us home. We made con­tact with Lee – on a Sun­day – and he was wait­ing at my work with his re­cov­ery truck be­fore we even ar­rived, that’s ser­vice!”

This was a few years back, and Lee at Devil’s had been hard at work be­hind the scenes on Syvecs de­vel­op­ment, so while Dar­ren’s RS was back there be­ing fixed it made a cer­tain amount of sense to up­grade to Syvecs S6+ stand­alone man­age­ment. In fact, his car was the first Fo­cus to run this new pub­licly-re­leased ECU, and it made a strong 426bhp right away. Dar­ren and his dad made a quick video of the car com­ing off a round­about and flat-shift­ing up a hill in the dark; within 48 hours the video had 70,000 views and Lee’s phone was ring­ing off the hook with peo­ple des­per­ate to up­grade to Syvecs!

“The car was awe­some in that spec, and once again I told my­self that was how it was go­ing to stay,” he says, “un­til I blew it up at Ring­land! And that’s when things started to get silly…”

He’s not kid­ding. The en­su­ing re­build saw some mighty up­grades, in­clud­ing a Pre­ci­sion 6266 turbo, 1,000cc in­jec­tors, Stage 1 New­man cams and a breather kit, while the Eibachs were ousted in favour of KW V3 coilovers. A full chas­sis makeover fol­lowed, fea­tur­ing Sum­mit front and

rear up­per strut braces, Hardrace ad­justable rear toe arms and cam­ber arms, White­line ad­justable rear drop links and anti-roll bar, poly front ARB bushes and steer­ing rack mounts, and a White­line anti-lift kit, all of which was then cor­ner-weighted with cus­tom ge­om­e­try by NAD UK.

“It was around this time that I met Aaron at AMD In­no­va­tions,” says Dar­ren. “He was help­ing re­brand my busi­ness by de­sign­ing lo­gos and so on; we got talk­ing and he ended up wrap­ping the Fo­cus. Be­ing a de­tailer by trade you may think it’s silly hav­ing your own car wrapped, but I was work­ing 80+ hour weeks, not in­clud­ing all the run­ning about with the car and I just couldn’t main­tain it to the stan­dard I wished – so it was re-ma­chined, ce­ramic-coated, then wrapped for pro­tec­tion.”

At this time the car was mak­ing around 550bhp, some­thing Dar­ren de­scribes as ‘clearly not enough’, so the de­ci­sion was made to once again make the trip to Devil De­vel­op­ments – swap­ping the Pre­ci­sion 6266 for a 6466, and chang­ing the cast man­i­fold for a tubu­lar Nortech item, while the fuel sys­tem was again up­graded and a big­ger in­ter­cooler fit­ted. A larger breather kit and oil cooler also ap­peared, and by this point the limit of the Mill­tek sys­tem was be­ing reached, so Ben at Devil’s made up a cus­tom 3.5in sys­tem with one box and a sin­gle 5.5in tail (out­wardly rolled like an old­school Saph Cossie), which flows beau­ti­fully and sounds ab­so­lutely mon­strous. The car’s now mak­ing 604bhp, or 673bhp on a 30% meth mix, which seems to have sat­is­fied Dar­ren’s urges for the time be­ing.

“I’ve al­ways said I’ll stop when the car starts to get un­us­able, and in my opin­ion 600bhp-plus on pump fuel is on the limit so that’s it for now, no more,” he reck­ons. “I’ve got a 220bhp su­per­charged MINI which I’ve built to feed the mod­ding ad­dic­tion for a while, but that’s nearly done now also… but yes, peo­ple’s re­ac­tions to the Fo­cus are al­ways amaz­ing, be­ing this colour; with the noise, and the screamer pipe out the bon­net, it cer­tainly gets at­ten­tion!”

So what’s next? “Ah, it’s time to move on,” Dar­ren laments. “I fancy a new project… I’m not say­ing what, but it’s an en­tirely new di­rec­tion for me, one that I never thought I’d go in, and if I can pull it off it’ll be pretty epic.” Mys­te­ri­ous in­deed, and you can bet your bot­tom dol­lar that his dad will be egging him on all the way. Just look at this mag­nif­i­cent Fo­cus they’ve cre­ated. With this sort of form, and so many unique Fords in the past, we can’t wait to see what the fu­ture holds.

Screamer pipe ex­its at the back edge of the bon­net

Cus­tom ex­haust has a dis­tinctly old-school sin­gle exit tailpipe

673bhp can be a bit of a hand­ful in a FWD road car - es­pe­cially in the wet! Rollcage keeps the car taut and adds peace of mind too

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