Extra wide Focus with tuned RS power, and aggressive looks.
Here are a couple of facts for you to consider: the average giraffe, living out on the savannah and doing the usual giraffe stuff, will sleep for only twenty minutes a day. The lion, on the other hand, can sleep for up to twenty hours a day. Same environment, and yet a totally different approach. Does this mean that the giraffe is hyperactive and over-engaged, or that the lion is lazy and unadventurous – or both? Or neither? One might argue that the giraffe needs to reconsider its diet, given that it has to spend every waking hour chewing leaves; the lion’s keenness for indiscriminately devouring other creatures provides it with a lot of leisure time.
In a sense, the ecosystem of the African savannah is neatly mirrored in the secondgeneration Ford Focus. That sounds like a mad thing to say, but stick with it: two levels of performance variant were offered – the ST providing big-lunged thrills and insane power potential to the everyman, while the halo RS model amped everything up to eleven, with a spec sheet positively dripping in aspirational upgrades. Both of these cars used the 2.5-litre, 5-cylinder, 20-valve Duratec ST engine. Same environment, and yet a totally different approach.
Being the die-hard Ford fan that you are, you’ll presumably be familiar with the standard specs. The ST offered 225bhp from its five-pot, while the RS boosted this number to 301bhp with the help of a bigger BorgWarner K16 turbo, forged crank, improved intercooler, uprated pistons, and a few other tricks and tweaks. A Quaife LSD and RevoKnuckle suspension were thrown into the RS too, and the exterior aesthetics were noticeably beefed up.
What’s particularly compelling for the aftermarket tuner is the shared architecture. With a bit of lateral thinking, a small amount of head-scratching, and the right amount of coffee, it’s possible to play Dr Frankenstein and try to combine the elements of
the giraffe and the lion into one functional entity, cherry-picking choice parts of the ST and the RS to create your own dream Focus. That’s what Andrew Johns has been up to here, and the resulting monster is really quite imposing: an ST with RS-smashing power, more than a few RS upgrades, and a general sense of menace to suggest that this angry build would be far happier mauling carcasses than munching on delicate foliage.
Now, it’s worth noting that Andrew has form with extreme modifications, his back catalogue bristling with a diverse spread of projects. “My first car was an Orion 1.6i Ghia,” he says, which is impressive in itself. “Just an exhaust and filter on that one as I was just starting out, but I then went onto a Metro Turbo, another Orion, and then a full-on Max Power-style Peugeot 205 GTI – full bodykit, the works. After that came a Renault 19 16v, then an Alfa Romeo 156 which again got a full bodykit, 19in wheels, custom exhaust, massive audio, full retrim with TVs in the headrests… and then came this ST.”
It’s interesting to note the change in focus with this Focus, in that there’s far more emphasis on performance than aesthetics. That’s not to say he hasn’t had a bit of fun with the looks though, as those brutal Auto Specialists wide arches keenly demonstrate… and you can’t really go widearch without stuffing some massive wheels in there, so Andrew’s opted for a set of 20in BK Racing rims, measuring a seam-busting 10.5in wide apiece. More than enough to butch up those looks, and the addition of the RS rear spoiler, RS bonnet vents and various splitters and diffusers show that it means business – but you’ll note that
“All of this adds up to 430bhp, which would be a very respectable number for a tuned RS, never mind an ST”
it’s still proudly wearing the ST badge on the bootlid. This is no wannabe, no exercise in pastiche; what Andrew’s aimed for here is to turn the ST into its ultimate evolution. It’s not a replica, it’s an alternative.
“I found this car on Auto Trader, and bought it totally standard,” he continues. “After the Alfa, I was just after a family car.” Sure, but we all know what happens when people say ‘I wasn’t planning to modify it’ – this stuff is in our blood, we just can’t help ourselves can we? And yes, OK, Andrew did manage to be sensible for the first couple of years, but then that cheeky voice in the back of his brain started whispering. You know that voice, right? It gets increasingly insistent until eventually it blocks out all rationality. So, the ST was packed off to Pumabuild for the 300 treatment. “This was then changed to a 340-spec with some additional mods, before going Stage 4 with RS internals,” says Andrew. “When that died after 1800 miles, Darren and Ben at BD Performance in Wrexham worked their magic, along with a little help from James in South Wales, and when the car came back the engine was fitted with fully forged internals.”
The parts-sharing and common roots between the ST and RS are what enabled the power mods to escalate with such enthusiasm, and now Andrew’s ST engine boasts a remarkable spec: he’s running the cams and the turbo from the RS as well as a Stage 2 RS intercooler; the lungs are aided by an Airtec RS induction kit at one end and a Mongoose Section 59 turbo-back exhaust system at the other (perfect addition for a sensible family car, that) and, as well as
the aforementioned forged internals, it’s packing a Revo 4+ tune. All of this adds up to 430bhp, which would be a very respectable number for a tuned RS, never mind an ST.
Naturally, as he’s such a seasoned veteran at this stuff, Andrew has taken a holistic approach to all this. Throwing RS-andthen-some power into a stock ST chassis would probably end very badly very quickly, so he’s seen fit to install a Quaife LSD to keep everything slightly less hysterical, while stopping duties are taken care of by a frankly colossal set of 8-pot brakes from K-Sport. Good job he’d had his heart set on those enormous rims, right? And handling duties are finessed by a fully-adjustable BC coilover setup, meaning that he’s got pretty much the perfect package. Throw in the full RS interior that he’s carefully swapped over and the mix-and-match exercise is complete.
Well… ‘complete’? Not quite. “I’ve got the full RS running gear ready to swap over in the very near future,” he grins. “Gearbox, RevoKnuckles, driveshafts, the works. Oh, and a bigger turbo…”
Crikey, the guy’s unstoppable. And perhaps the most fun part of all this is that there are always going to be people turning up their noses and saying ‘Why didn’t he just buy an RS in the first place?’ Which, of course, entirely misses the point. Anyone can, in theory and within reason, go out and find themselves a pet lion if they so wish. But it takes a lot more skill and ingenuity to make one in a lab using bits of giraffe. That’s some mad science.
Huge K-Sport 8-pots lurk behind the 20in BK rims
Part of the RS-update has seen the stock ST seats swapped out for the RS’s Sportster CS buckets