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.
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.
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.
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.
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