Reader’s Ride: Dallas Hinman’s Mk3 Focus ST
Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past year or so you’re aware that Ford’s new ST siblings have made quite a splash in the performance car scene. With affordable pricing and the kind of honest-to-goodness real driving hilarity many of us had figured had long been taken away by a nanny state dictating various ESP/ABS/EDL/WTF tech acronyms designed to save us from ourselves, the Focus and Fiesta STs are a breath of fresh air. Sure, they also have all those modern safety features, but unlike with some competitors (looking at you, Mk6 GTI and Golf R…), you can turn most of them off. Completely off.
Last year Colorado resident Dallas Hinman was on his way to trade in his two-door Mk6 Golf TDI for a new four-door Mk6 GTI. Nothing shocking there, of course, but you see, there’s a Ford dealer on the way to the VW dealer and Dallas figured he’d stop in to check out a Focus ST. “I’d been hearing nothing but great things about the Focus ST and I was a devout follower of what fifteen52 and Ken Block were doing on the www.Project-ST.com website,” Dallas explains, “and I just needed to see if the hype was legit.” It turns out the hype definitely was legit and as you already know, Dallas never did make it to the VW dealer. Score one – a big one – for Project-ST.
With a promise to his wife not to mod the ST too much (yeah…right), Dallas started with a few simple changes. An H&R coilover kit got the car to sit better, and a set of cast 18×8.5 fifteen52 Tarmac wheels in a gold powder-coat and custom offsets had the car looking even better. “These Focus STs really respond well to some basic mods,” Dallas offers, “and I really couldn’t believe all the attention I got with the lowering and gold Tarmacs. Compared to what I felt was a pretty stale VW scene, the Ford guys were down for trying new things and in a very short time I was already having more fun with the ST.”
It wasn’t long before Dallas started thinking he wanted to push the envelope and swap out his 8.5″ Tarmacs for a set of 9.5″. He chose white this time and, combined with the car’s Performance Blue paint, he found himself right in the middle of “mini-TrackSTer” status. Funny thing with that; Dallas was the one who discovered the Mk3 Focus ST could swallow 18×9.5 and a 235/40 tire with zero fender mods. We had our doubts a 9.5″-wide wheel would fit (that’s the same size we run on the TrackSTer) and he was ready to do whatever fender mods needed, but Dallas nailed the offset and the results spoke for themselves.
No doubt his wife wasn’t surprised but it turns out Dallas wasn’t quite done modding the ST. Added to the coilovers and beefy wheels were a Cobb intake and shifter bracket, an MBRP cat-back exhaust, Unleashed Careless downpipe, and an Unleashed ECU tune. With the extra performance and available rubber to put it to the ground, Dallas told us he was ready for a set of our production f/TP track-spec adjustable coilovers. At the time we were still working with Eibach on the f/SP street-spec kits, so Dallas was informed he’d have to wait a bit. Dallas doesn’t like waiting. So while he was busy not waiting he bought an air ride system instead. Yeah, we weren’t entirely stoked with that turn of events, but considering we set the tone for such things with our own Project-ST Focus STanced build, we at least had to pretend we understood. Fortunately he went with an Airlift performance system and still plans to use the ST on the track.
With renewed talk of future track days and some of his credibility restored, we were plenty stoked when Dallas told us he wanted another set of fifteen52 wheels. This time he was going the forged route and as a huge fan of a certain rally driver named Ken Block, Dallas figured why not run the wheels that KB uses and helped design? At 18×9″ Dallas’s Turbomacs are a little narrower than his Tarmacs, but they weigh in at a full 7-lb-per-wheel lighter. And you can bolt turbofans to them. Just like Ken Block does.
Dallas decided he really missed having gold wheels on his PB ST, so we discussed various options. He didn’t want to have a simple gold powder-coat this time, so we told him about some cool new tinted clear-coat options. We warned him these finishes weren’t for the painfully shy, and Dallas assured us he wasn’t afraid of a little bling. So we brushed the Turbomac’s raw aluminum surface and had our finisher spray a few coats of gold-tinted clear-coat over the top. The results are pretty stunning and most important, Dallas is well pleased with his choice.
So what’s next for our dude? We figure it’s just a matter of time till he tires of the air ride kit and will be ready for some serious 52/Eibach track coils. And some hardcore brakes. And a Quaife LSD. And a Mountune MR350 engine build… So while it definitely is true that Dallas isn’t patient, we are. When he’s ready for his next fix (and/or divorced), we’ll be right here and ready.