Block STyle: KB’s Got New Shoes
In our last Focus Block STyle update, we covered the Eibach/Ford Racing coilover install.* Since then you’ve probably seen pics of the car on a set of shiny non-OE wheels, and this update is here to fill you in on the finer details behind the wheels and why we’re using them.
Most of you are probably aware of our (fifteen52) Tarmac wheel design. And no doubt most of you have come to know the design by way of a couple little videos that begin with the letter…Gymkhana. Yes, having Ken Block hooning around on our wheels has done wonders for design recognition, and while we couldn’t be more pleased with the results, the truth is KB contacted us for the wheels and not the other way around. For the tl;dr crowd, the short version of this story is that Ken likes our wheels and we’re the lucky bastards living in his limelight.
When we proposed building three different Focus STs to Ford, we knew for sure we wanted each car to wear Tarmacs. Makes sense, right? This entire project revolves around KB and his relationship with Ford and us, so what other wheel design would we use? Luckily for us (and you, if you care about this stuff), for some time we’d already been working on several variations of the basic five-spoke Tarmac design. From cast to forged monoblock to three-piece versions, we’ve pretty much milked the iconic (thanks to KB) design for all its worth. One day we posted on our Facebook page a rendering of a forged monoblock version with what we call F40-style cut-outs in each spoke, and within less than an hour Ken contacted us and said we need to make him a set. So there you go; the Focus Block STyle is wearing a set of forged monoblock Tarmac F40 wheels.
For size we chose a “plus-one” set-up, meaning we’ve gone up one inch in diameter – to 19″ – over the stock 18″ ST wheels. Since this car is meant for daily driver status, we stayed a bit conservative in the width department, with the goal being to go as wide as possible while making sure there’d be no fouling the arches, even with the lowered ride height. 19×9 with a conservative ET42 offset are the final specs.
Creating a forged monoblock wheel is an entirely different process compared to creating the same design using cast aluminum. Whereas a cast design requires an expensive mold, a high minimum piece order, and as long as a six-month lead time, by milling forged aluminum billets we have the ability to create a single set at any time. The price, as you might imagine, is much greater vs. cast (often three to four times as much), but the net result is a more bespoke option, the ability to create a stronger and lighter design, with a much quicker turn-around time. Speaking of a lighter design, KB’s Tarmac F40s weigh in at a pretty svelte 20-lbs each.
Ken Block is sponsored by Pirelli, so you won’t be surprised when we tell you his wheels are wearing a set of P-Zeros in size 235/35-19. Again, a fairly conservative plus-one strategy, but the results are awesome and those P-Zeros offer an excellent blend of grip, ride quality, and low noise. A fairly wet SoCal winter has also given us a chance to report that these tires have superb grip in the wet as well.
You’ll notice the finish on KB’s wheels seems both a bit shiny and also a bit rough. That’s because they are 100% raw; straight off the mill, exposed tool paths and all. While we all agree it’s a cool look, it’s not practical over the long term, and KB has something else in mind. As a matter of fact he has three different finish options in mind, and in an upcoming Facebook post he’s going to ask his fans to vote for which of the three options they like best, and then he’ll probably listen and go along with the consensus.
For lots more pics, check out the gallery for this article.
*You might notice the front end of the Focus Block STyle is sitting a little lower than last time. The reason for this is we’ve been working with Eibach on our own version of their excellent R1 coilover kit. We’ve asked them to work with us on utilizing a slightly shorter front spring and revising the damping rate and range to suit. The fact is, we realize some of our customers truly love the look of an ultra-low car, and our goal is to provide a kit that allows that while still functioning at more conservative heights exactly the way everyone else would expect.
We’ll be raising Ken’s car up a bit when we take it to the scales, but for now we thought it’d be cool to show you how low it could go.