Not everyone is a purebred. In fact, if you’re like most of the people on this earth, you come from two separate and distinctive families. The new Ford Focus ST follows a similarly branching family tree. For the first time, the high performance Focus you buy in the US is the same as the one you could buy in the rest of the world. We’ve tasted from the European performance well in the US in the past as recently as the 2002 – 2004 Focus SVT, which was similar to the European Focus ST170. This “World Car” attitude is very present in the current and upcoming Ford vehicle catalog; the Fiesta has been for sale here for some time now and the 2013 Ford Fusion we’ll be seeing here is very much the same as the new Mondeo seen throughout the rest of the world. In this series, we’ll look into the history of compact performance offerings from Ford and how two parallel developments in the US and Europe have evolved into the new 2013 Ford Focus ST.
History repeats itself. Remember the Mk1 Escort RS Mexico? Remember how it was designed to be a cheaper, more durable version of the RS1600? Well, the same thing applied here for the Mk2. The RS Mexico used the same beefed-up chassis as the Mk2 RS1800 but the high strung 1.8L BDA motor was replaced with a 1.6L Pinto.
The 1.6 Pinto OHC was not left alone, though. Upgrades to the engine consisted of an alloy sump and engine mounts, a 2-barrel Weber DGAV, bigger intake valves, the hotter 2.0L camshaft, and a tubular exhaust manifold. Power output on the 1.6L was a healthy 95bhp, up from the 70-ish horsepower of the stock 1.6L Pinto found in the same vintage Capri and Cortina. Torque was rated at 92ft/lbs. The interior was decked out in a set of deep Scheel buckets as standard (competition-based seats were optional) and a special instrument cluster. Unlike the RS1800, the Mexicos were available in a variety of shades of greens, oranges, yellows, and reds suited to complement the existing white offering that was the only available color for the RS1800.
The Mexico was the premier rally car for the racer on a budget. The well sorted RS chassis attached to the unbreakable 1.6L Pinto motor made it perfect for rallying. Privateers flooded the ranks of rally with the RS Mexico until its replacement arrived soon after. The Mk2 RS Mexico was first made available in November of 1975 and production ended in July of 1978. All done, only 2500 of these rolled off the line, as the Mexico was falling out of favor shortly after its release, thanks to a big lineup change in 1976 (which we’ll revisit during the next Lesson).