Here’s a rather nebulous assignment: “take the Focus ST that blew everyone away in Paris, and turn it into a race car”. My first question would have been, “for what series”, but that’s probably why I’m not a designer at Ford. I never was too good at following directions that lacked any kind of clarity, and Jonathan Szczupak of Ford’s North American Design Team is clearly a more patient individual than I am.
You can’t tell much about the car from Szczupak’s walk through, filmed at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but I can see enough to tell the car wouldn’t be competitive in any series I can think of. Those BBS wheels may look halfway decent, but they probably weigh about 40 pounds each before you add tires. The brakes need larger rotors and bigger calipers, unless you’re racing in a showroom stock series which precludes brake upgrades. The stock exhaust, no matter how good it looks, isn’t going to make the car go any faster and probably weighs about ten pounds more than it needs to. I’d gladly trade “a feeling of motion” for “more forward motion”, myself.
I’m not a big fan of building simulated race cars, so I would have given the design team the SCCA rulebook and said, “build a car that will kick ass in Showroom Stock racing”. At least then they’d know what they’re up against and have some parameters to work from. To the average consumer, the Focus ST Race Car probably does look like a race car. To me, it looks like easy pickings and a chance to gain a position on track.