Home » Here’s How You Turn A Ford Focus Into A 500 Horsepower V8 Ford Mustang With A Solid Rear Axle

Here’s How You Turn A Ford Focus Into A 500 Horsepower V8 Ford Mustang With A Solid Rear Axle

Supercharged Coyote Swap Focus Ts1
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The first-generation Ford Focus was prized as a funky, affordable, front-wheel drive hatchback. Most remained that way for their working lives, with even the hottest sporting versions sticking to the format. But what if the Focus followed the Mustang’s example and paired a chunky V8 with rear-wheel-drive? Boy, that would really be something.

Just such a build caught our attention, via @horsepower and Engine Swap Depot. Right away, you can tell this one’s a little naughty, because it follows the classic Focus trope of sticking a bright, eye-catching color on the hot ones. Oh, and it has a massive cowl hood that further gives the game away. The car recently sold on Barrett-Jackson for $35,200, but let’s dive in to see what makes this one really special.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The car has a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 swap, which in itself would be an achievement of some note. But the builder went further, stacking a massive 3.0-liter Whipple supercharger on top. The combination is said to be capable of over 500 horsepower. It’s paired with a Tremec T45 5-speed manual transmission which sends power to an 8.8 rear end from a Ford Mustang with a Watts link to keep it centered beneath the chassis. Inside the diff housing a 3.73-ratio Eaton Truetrac limited slip differential to help the Focus put all that power down to the ground.

Coyote Focus

 

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272840 Misc 63f31fb0 Fd66 4030 A3f0 124449cd87f0 Web
The Ford 8.8″ rear end, Watts link, and swaybar setup almost looks factory, minus the blue-anodized mount for the link.

Oh, and we’re told that this thing “may not” be 50-states legal from an emissions point of view. Yeah, I’ma go ahead and agree with you on that one, Cotton.

Beyond the engine swap, it’s a remarkably complete build. It’s got a full roll cage and fuel cell along with Recaro seats inside, plus a set of aftermarket gauges from Dakota Digital that work remarkably well with the Ford’s early 2000s interior.

272840 Rear 3 4 Web
It’s wild how stock it looks. You could skip the cowl hood and have a real sleeper with this one.
272840 Front 3 4 Web
Spot the intercooler.

272840 Interior Web (1)

272840 Misc Be4e7256 2ca0 497b 878d 689462a3b76f Web
The New Edge styling really worked on the first-gen Ford Focus. I’m yet to be convinced it worked on anything else.
272840 Misc 09478d1b 7d07 4602 8902 D97573deead8 Web
It’s an expensive engine, so you should probably keep an eye on it. The gauge cluster is from Dakota Digital. 

We’re told this one was built for SEMA too, back in the day, but it’s difficult to figure out who built it, or why. If anything, despite the high effort required to execute the V8 swap, it’s far too tame for the holy grail of aftermarket excess. Funnily enough, though, researching the back story shows us that Focus V8 swaps are not a complete rarity. A very similar looking build was sold on Bring a Trailer back in 2021, but without the supercharger or the roll cage. Later generations have seen similar treatment, too, like this SEMA build from 2020.

Swapping a V8 into a common-market hatchback is a big job, make no bones about it. You don’t see it every day, because there are a whole bunch of challenges involved. You have to first find room for the engine in the bay, which can be particularly difficult for a big overhead-cam engine like the Coyote. You then have to fabricate some kind of rear subframe to accept a differential, swap out the rear hubs for ones that accept driveshafts, add bigger brakes… the work goes on. And yet, that’s what makes it all the more impressive when someone commits to it.

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Ultimately, though, this build tells us one thing. If it’s wearing a Ford badge, someone is gonna put a V8 in it.

Image credits: Barrett-Jackson

 

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LostinTransit
LostinTransit
8 days ago

Taking what we’ve learn here, Let’s try this in a 2020+ Transit Connect..

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
19 days ago

Fast and bulbous.

Ben Rogerds
Ben Rogerds
19 days ago

To Jesus drives a Chrysler….No. you would not need a modified floor or have to create a tunnel, due to the MKI f Focus RS being AWD Turbo. We never got it stateside.

Jimmy7
Jimmy7
19 days ago
Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
19 days ago

I’m not 100% sure, but I think that it would be 50 state legal if you had a 1998-2001 Focus and you installed the 5.0/auto drivetrain from an explorer from 1998-2001.

Downside is that it’s automatic, but maybe you could manual-swap to a T-5 or something.

Upside is that 5.0 has more aftermarket support, and is physically smaller vs. mod motors. And the autos they used on the explorer 5.0’s were durable. Also, the 5.0’s got DIS ignition only on these explorers, nothing else.

David Hollenshead
David Hollenshead
18 days ago

Read about the kit mentioned above…

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
19 days ago

Makes me wish that fastback Mustangs were still a thing

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
19 days ago
Reply to  TheHairyNug

They are still a thing though..?

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
18 days ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

I guess I was meaning a liftback, even though I feel like not having a hatch on a fastback is weird

Last edited 18 days ago by TheHairyNug
Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
19 days ago

The best part of this build is the European swapped front and rear bumpers. Looks so much better than the American version. I still have that imported grill sitting on my bookshelf that I never got around to installing.

Last edited 19 days ago by Jdoubledub
M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
19 days ago
Reply to  Jdoubledub

Well, if you’re ever spring cleaning, I still have my 03 ZX-5.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
19 days ago
Reply to  M0L0TOV

You’ll get first dibs. Also have the shift knob from the RS Focus that I imported and rocked on my ZX3 til it got wrecked. A small part of me wants to find an 04 ZX with the 2.3L to put ’em on, but realistically I know it’ll never happen.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
19 days ago

Maybe I’m missing something but wouldn’t this build also involve fabricating an entire drivetrain tunnel? The entire interior floor would change, but it’s hard to see any of that in the photos.

David Hollenshead
David Hollenshead
18 days ago

Nope, as like most FWD cars the Focus has a large enough tunnel…

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
19 days ago

I can’t recall the show, I think it was on Speed, maybe Two Guys Garage. They built a V8 Focus with I think, a Ford Performance kit. This had to be like 2001/2. I think they worked out of Hendricks?

Elduchey
Elduchey
19 days ago
Reply to  Max Headbolts

Ah you are probably thinking of the 2003 Focus RS8 Cammer. Ford Performance actually built the thing to promote their new line of crate engines (in this case the 5.0 4v Cammer) and I think they showed it off at SEMA that year.
This thing would have been the ultimate sleeper.

https://www.supercars.net/blog/2003-ford-focus-rs8-concept/

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
19 days ago

There was a V8 Focus ZX3 running around Houston back in the mid-2000s. It had a 302, 5-speed, and axle out of a 1995 Mustang Cobra, with an alphabet cam thrown in for good measure. It wasn’t finished as nicely as this one, but it was still plenty wild.

My one question on this one was the choice to put a T45 behind that blown Coyote. It isn’t that the T45 is a bad transmission, but the T45 isn’t known for its robustness above 400hp and I feel like a TKX would have been a better choice for the power this thing is likely making.

LTDScott
LTDScott
19 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

TKX may not have been available when this was built since it’s relatively new.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
19 days ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Good point, though that still begs the question why they didn’t go with a TKO? I have a feeling any hard launches or money shifts on that T45 is going to have clutch forks and input shafts flying in all directions.

LTDScott
LTDScott
19 days ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Yeah, I agree that there were better choices than the T45.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
19 days ago

People see an orange streak before the crash.

You arrive at the pearly gates going backwards on fire and grinning like a fool.

I want it.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
19 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

Just don’t bring anyone else along with you.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
19 days ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

You’re no fun anymore 🙂

Taxi maniac
Taxi maniac
19 days ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

Love it.

It’s better if you don’t die….

But it takes a lot of luck to make it to your 40s when you own something in arrest me red in your 20s.

I got lucky. Guard rails are expensive but liability coverage handles it all

XXLTall
XXLTall
19 days ago

V8 Focus was fairly common in the Detroit area 2000-2010. A guy would show up to autoXs with a 5.4lt mod in one. He would try to put down a fast time but if he lost it he would just smoke them for the rest of the run so we always hoped he would make a mistake.

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
19 days ago

So there was a no shit kit from ford performance to do this swap back (minus coyote, it used a 4.6) in the early naughts. I remember reading a full write up in (I think) motor trend. Let me dig up the article and I’ll share.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
19 days ago
Reply to  beachbumberry

That is bananas!!

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
19 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Right? I remember sitting at lunch in school reading that trying to figure out how many lawns I’d have to mow

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
19 days ago
Reply to  beachbumberry

Does anyone know why photos from old Motor Trend articles are low resolution? I wonder if they were compressed to hell during some sort of archival process.

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
19 days ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

That’s just what we were working with back then, pixels were the size of pencil lead.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
19 days ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

That’s a good question. Whenever I do research on something that was built in the early to mid-2000s, I find super blurry low-res photos on most websites. That MT topshot is 200×120!

Now, I would just dismiss that as me using modern technology and looking back into the past, but then I look at the images I posted to car forums in 2005 and 2008 and most of those images are still about 720p or larger. Even the few very old articles that still have images at Jalopnik are using what are more or less thumbnails.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
19 days ago

Right?! Even in 2005, the average CRT monitor would have a 1024×768 resolution. There’s no way 200×120 would have been the standard for pictures.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
19 days ago
Reply to  beachbumberry

This is exactly what I thought of when I saw “it looks like a stock install except for the blue anodizing”

LTDScott
LTDScott
19 days ago
Reply to  beachbumberry

Came here to say this.

Juan Rodríguez
Juan Rodríguez
19 days ago

Now, that´s what I´d love to do to my focus.

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