STanced – All The Small Things

Wheels and bags. Outside of those two prerequisites, today’s stanced scene doesn’t come with a rulebook. Obviously, importance is heavily placed on how cool those wheels are and how perfectly they fit (or don’t) when using those bags, but there are a lot of other details necessary to make a car stand apart from all the others.

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With Focus STanced our goal was to create a Focus ST that could make a name for itself in the stance scene while not selling out on its class-leading performance DNA. Our custom Accuair high-performance street/track air suspension system and a few performance brake goodies from adam’s rotors have made sure we’ve kept to our early promises, and no doubt our screaming yellow Katzkin interior has given people something to talk about when it comes to interior styling.

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The good old days (i.e., the ’90s) of bolting on any one of hundreds of bodykit options in order to be different are seemingly long gone, but a bone-stock exterior to us just screams, “I’m a lazy mofo.” Clearly, as awesome as the Focus ST looks in stock form we knew we needed to change things up.

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In our opinion, after wheels, tires, and suspension, it’s a car’s lighting system that makes the single-biggest style statement. Whether it’s using parts from available higher-end option packages, importing parts not available on US cars, or modifying your stock components, a carefully-chosen set of headlights and taillights can make a huge difference. For the STanced Focus we figured we wanted something a little different than the ST3 package HID headlights we’re using with the other two builds. With the polished rim sections of the three-piece Tarmac TR wheels putting out just a bit of bling, we decided we’d carry that theme over to the headlights. The OE ST2 halogen lights have a nice bit of chrome in their housings, so we figured we’d work with them. HID retrofit conversion kits are very popular these days so we’ve chosen to try a kit on one of our PST cars.

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We immediately got in touch with The Retrofit Source and ordered up an HID conversion kit. Luckily for us, they were down to help from the get-go:

“TRS wanted to be a part of Project ST because a good HID setup should never go overlooked,” Andrew of TRS explains. “While some may think drop-in HIDs look good and are okay to use, the oncoming drivers being blinded by them surely don’t – only projector-based housings should be used. Fifteen52 has been a staple to the VW/Audi community (that we are looking to further expand into) and by helping to show how HIDs should be implemented and yet retain a stock look, others are sure to ‘see the light,’ so to speak. The Focus ST is one of the newest iterations of the ever-popular ‘hot hatch’ market, and with every new iteration, Ford really brings their best to the table. We’re very excited to help with this project!”

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Based on TRS’s advice we went with the Morimoto Mini H1 projectors, surrounded by the Mini Gatling Gun shrouds. To back up these high-quality projectors, the best aftermarket HIDs available were supplemented as well. The 5000K color was chosen for a crisp white color that is still very visible on the road. The retrofit process is fairly simple and TRS provides everything you need. On a 1-to-10 DIY degree of difficulty scale, we give this process a 6. It’s not all that technically challenging, but from opening the OE lights to retrofitting the projectors to wiring up the ballasts, there’s plenty to screw up if you’re not careful.

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The fact that HIDs perform so much better than halogen lighting makes them a must-have, true performance upgrade in our opinion. Plus, even after all these years there’s still something badass and upscale about HID lighting. While waiting on our TRS parts we took some time and opened up our stock ST2 headlights. You see, evil lurked inside our lights. Not just your regular evil, either, but evil formed from the unholy alliance of politics, government, and…insurance companies. Yes, we’re talking about the orange plastic reflectors that all US cars are required to wear. Yeah, so now, after a brief exorcism and then sealing everything back up, we’re totally righteous and looking rather Euro.

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At the rear of the car there was far less insidiousness (it’s a real word; look it up) going on but we wanted to try something we’ve been doing to various Euro cars since the mid-’90s; all-red taillights. We’re not sure where this trend started, but certain manufacturers (e.g; Porsche, Audi, etc.) have gone out of their way to create taillights that look completely red when unlit, but still show amber turns and white reverse lights when activated. During the ’90s there was a trend toward monochromatic themes in general, so solid red taillights just seemed to fit. With the Focus ST taillights, Ford has already gotten rid of any amber plastic doing the sore thumb thing, but there is still a white section covering the reversing bulbs, so we figured let’s see how that looks tinted red. It’s a pretty minor detail, but as the title to this article suggests, it’s the small things that count. Frankly, we’re still undecided on the look, and we’re not entirely stoked to have created pink reverse lighting, but some people here think the all-red look is a cool touch and love the nod to the things we did back in the ’90s. We’d ask for our readers’ opinions on this but we learned a long time ago that’s just wasted effort – you’re going to tell us exactly what you think. And you’re going to tell us often.

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For the rest of the styling considerations we really weren’t looking to change too much of what Ford’s designers came up with originally. When we designed the front lower cup spoilers for Focus TrackSTer we knew we wanted to use them on the other two cars as well. So molds were made and our friends at Ranz Motorsports in South El Monte used them to pull a couple extra kits for us. Next week we’ll cover the install process, but here you see them on the car and looking sweet. We will admit that the one styling cue on the stock ST that bothers us is how, when viewing the car in profile, the front bumper lip actually tapers up at the front. We wanted to see a completely horizontal line from the rear bumper to the front, so we designed the cup spoilers to add to an already aggressive hallmark ST design cue (the front lower “fangs”), while effectively lowering and leveling the front profile. Originally we planned to add a lower front splitter (as seen on the TrackSTer), but we’re not sure if that look will suit this car. Either way, we really dig the way these cup spoilers look.*

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Sometimes it’s possible to make a car look and sound better at the same time, and just as we did with KB’s Focus Block STyle, for the STanced car we swapped out the OE exhaust for a Ford Racing cat-back system. We love the look of the twin polished round tips and the deeper, throatier exhaust note is all good in our eyes. And ears. We also believe we’ve picked up a couple horsepower with this system, but without a before and after report, that’s just our butt(dyno) talking.

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With the first phase of Project ST winding down, you can see that Focus STanced is close to being complete. From here on out we have mostly minor detail work to take care of, hit up more local events, and maybe take a little trip to Vegas later next month. Regardless, we’ll be posting up any new mods and making sure we continue to provide ample social media opportunities for awesome and insightful debates regarding how we’ve ruined this Focus ST with air suspension, tasteless interior modifications, and anything else we’ve forgotten.

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*We’re very close to offering these cup kits (and optional lower splitter) to the public, so if you like them too, stay tuned and we’ll let you know when they’re available to order.

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