Myopia being one of the most common eye problems in the world, many people might not be able to focus on today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe contender. That's too bad, because dismissing this SVT Ford would be very shortsighted.
The current American Ford Focus is a car that's living on borrowed time. And anybody who has seen the next Focus would be excused for buying a bus pass rather than one of the cars presently blighting Ford dealer lots. The main reason the Focus is turd-like in desirability is its styling, which makes cold-war era soviet iron look fashionable. Also, the tired driving dynamics of the C170 platform, which dates back to the Clinton administration, befits the grandma panties exterior.
But back when it was new, that wasn't the case, and the 1st-gen Focus was one of the most entertaining to drive small cars on the market. Sadly for Ford, everybody else caught up and eventually sailed past the little Ford with the exclamation point tail lamps.
One guy who did his best to stave off the Focus' inevitable eclipsing was John Coletti, head of Ford's SVT operations from 1993 until 2004. Just like the F150-based Lightning, SVT Contour and SVT Cobra, Coletti's team breathed fire into the little Ford's lungs, creating the steroidal SVT Focus.
The 2-litre Zetec powering the car was one of the most advanced engines Ford offered American car buyers at the time. A Cosworth-engineered head accepted a dual-length intake manifold, and held twin cams- the intake side having electro-mechanical variable timing. Tuned tubular headers and a move of the cat to under the car meant that it expelled gasses as efficiently as it ate them. This was also the first U.S. Ford equipped with a dual-mass flywheel, damping torque spikes and helping to keep the gearbox from exploding. While the stock 2.0 Zetec pumps out a respectable 130-bhp at 5,300 rpm, the SVT version is good for 170-bhp at a block-stressing 7,000 rpm. Forged connecting rods and lightweight pistons help keep everything inside the cast iron block.
Backing up that technological tour de force was a Getrag six-speed twin-shaft transaxle (shared with the Mini Cooper S) laying down all the power – to the front wheels only – through a set of thicker halfshafts and CVs. Other areas embiggened on the car are the brakes, roll bars, and tires- with 215/45R17s being fitted onto special alloy rims.
Those rims are no longer on this 2003 SVT Focus, but the argent Ford Racing multi-spokers look pretty okay. Inside, this car rocks the fat Recaros and enough Armor All®-soaked plastic that you'll need sunglasses to drive it. Other than that, it looks pretty clean in there, and of course it has the white-faced gauges to keep you abreast of all the drama under the hood.
Outside, there's the aforementioned wheels, the special SVT bodywork, and a mess of orange paint. This is some really bright orange paint- chapped monkey-ass bright orange. It's so orange, you'd be excused for thinking you're getting your daily requirement of vitamin C just by driving it. Despite the loud paint, there doesn't look to be a fart can hanging off its ass, so it may not be as egregiously loud acoustically. The seller claims the body to be straight, and that, with the exception of the rear wiper motor, everything is in working order.
And he's asking $3,995 for the car.
But before you hit up the ATM, there's a couple of things about this car that you should be made aware of. First off, it has 210,876 miles under its SVT tires. That's like old man diesel Mercedes miles, and makes you wonder if the body welds are worrying themsleves apart, much less if the rest of the car is still solvent. The other thing, and one that the Craigslist ad doesn't tell you, is that this SVT Focus, was a Lemon-Law buy back. You see, this car was also on eBay, but the ad was pulled, and the VIN check there came back with the buy-back red flag. Despite the car's being advertised on the Boston Craigslist, maybe the seller isn't a Masshole and would bring that up if you asked.
Now, that was a while ago, and actually, lots of Focus SVTs had problems out the door when they were new. But there's plenty of happy owners out there today, so much of that must have been straightened out, right? So, knowing both of those scarlet letter issues with the car, and balancing them against the apparent condition and desirability, it's time to pass judgement on that $3,995 asking price.
What do you think about that? Does $3,995 bring this special Ford into sharp focus for you? Or, does that price mean you'd be getting SVT-bagged?
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