Home » This Brand New 117-Mile Ford Focus Sat For 20 Years And Now You Can Buy It

This Brand New 117-Mile Ford Focus Sat For 20 Years And Now You Can Buy It

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One of the saddest parts about becoming an adult and finally having some spending money is looking back at the cars of your childhood and realizing that all of them are either crazy expensive or total rust buckets. When was the last time you’ve seen a clean Chevy Corsica if you’ve even seen one in years at all? The first-generation Ford Focus is another one of those cars that seemingly disappeared, eaten by rust and the life of being a daily driver. If you’re looking to relive the early 2000s, I have wild news for you, a brand new, never registered 2002 Ford Focus has come up for sale, and it’s probably the cleanest first-generation Focus you’ll ever see again.

The mere fact that there’s still a brand new base model 2002 Ford Focus out there is silly enough, but wait until you hear where it’s for sale. This squeaky-clean Ford is currently for sale by Centsible Auto Sales, a Kalispell, Montana-based “Buy Here Pay Here” car dealership. This is the kind of car you’d expect at Bring a Trailer, not a place you’d finance a car when traditional lenders wouldn’t work with you.

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I bet you’re wondering how a car like this even survives two decades without being driven or registered, and it goes back to the original selling dealership.

The Focus Was A Big Deal

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Today, this car is just an old Focus. While it has a manual transmission, it doesn’t have a particular engine or package. Most car enthusiasts would pass up on this vehicle without a second thought, including myself. Yet, I find myself captivated by its perfect interior. I can’t remember when was the last time I saw a first-generation Focus without a terribly worn interior.

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When this car was new, it was a pretty big deal. I’ve written about the history of the Focus before, so let’s take a look:

The history of the Ford Focus started with the Escort. As Automotive News reported in 1996, Ford was developing a replacement for the Escort under the codename CW170. A world car, this vehicle was positioned to replace the Escort both in America and in Europe. It would release in Europe first in the 1998 model year before landing in America for the 1999 model year. The Escort was getting a new generation, too, but this new car was going to represent Ford’s small car effort into the New Millennium.

In 1998, the Focus hit the 1998 Geneva Motor Show. It was reportedly a shock to show attendees, as it was such a radical departure from what was expected from Ford. The Focus sported ideas from previous concepts like the high-mount taillights while designer John Doughty draped the car in Jack Telnack’s sleek “New Edge” styling. A polarizing design philosophy, it had already been applied to the Ford Ka and the Cougar (Mercury Cougar here).

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Upon release, the Focus was a polarizing vehicle. Some journalists loved Ford’s “New Edge” design and its unapologetic dedication to rounding everything out. Others hated it. Ford design back then was sort of obsessed with mixing circles, edges, and creases together. I wouldn’t call the Focus a timeless design, but I’d take it over today’s era of gigantic grilles and angry faces. Ford’s design philosophy bled into the interior, where rounded soft-touch materials met plastics.

Ford’s target demographic for the Focus was young people. Brochures were full of color, featured slang like “wicked,” and depicted young, fit people living active lifestyles with their Focus in tow. Backing up that youthful vibe was a setlist of bright colors, which included real hues like orange and green. Of course, there was even a special edition that included a Kona bicycle on its roof.

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Over in Europe, the Focus was such a smash hit that it won 1999 European Car of the Year, beating out cars like the Opel Astra and Peugeot 206 while bloodying the design icon that was the Audi TT. To put the popularity of the first-generation Ford Focus into perspective, Ford sold 1,822,361 of them in America between 1999 and 2007. That makes it even more amazing that there are seemingly so few decent ones left.

The New Old Focus

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So, how does a 2002 Ford Focus make it to 2024 with just 117 miles and never having been registered? A representative from Centsible, Blake Thornton, shines some light on what happened here.

This 2002 Ford Focus was built in late 2001 and delivered new to Rygg Ford Sales in Kalispell, Montana. I haven’t been able to pinpoint when this dealership opened, but the dealership was a big name in Kalispell commerce since at least 1955. Searches for the dealership reveal that a lot of residents worked in the dealership’s departments over the decades. Likewise, the dealership also had some pretty creative advertising in local papers:

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The Daily Inter Lake

At some point in the 2000s, Rygg Ford Sales fell on hard times. A post on a forum would suggest the dealership was still operating well into 2004 with previous year models in stock. Sometime after this, Rygg Ford Sales closed up shop. The unsold stock that was left on the lot went into storage, including this Ford Focus.

Kalispell would be left without a Ford dealer until 2011, when car dealer Jim Peterson bought the Ford franchise from the Rygg family, opening Valley Ford in the process. In 2016, Gerrid Gandrud, the owner of Kalispell Toyota and Whitefish Ford VW, purchased Valley Ford. Through all of this time, dozens of cars sat in a warehouse at the old Rygg Ford Sales property.

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Winds of change came in 2022 when Greenway Development, a Missouri-based developer, purchased the old Rygg Ford Sales property intending to build affordable apartments on the land. Suddenly, the cars, locked in their deep slumbers, needed to go.

Thornton says his dealership negotiated a package deal for 30 of the cars that sat in that warehouse. Sadly, most of the more desirable vehicles were picked off by others before Thornton got there, but he still made off with minty cars like this Focus, a Ranger, some Escort ZX2s, Windstars, and Taurus. Thornton says this Focus is just the first of many collected from the warehouse, but there aren’t pictures of the others yet.

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Since this car was never sold, it was never registered. In all the over 22 years this car has been around, it’s racked up just 117 miles and the car’s oh so clean to show for it. Just take a gander at these photos. When was the last time you’ve seen a Focus this clean?

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Now, before you get too excited, this is a base model Focus LX, a car so spartan that two visor mirrors and a “100,000 mile tune-up interval” are listed as standard equipment. Don’t ask about air-conditioning you’re lucky you’re even getting a cassette player, mister. Power comes from a 2.0-liter four good for 110 HP and 125 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a thrilling drive, but at least the EPA said you should get 36 mpg on the highway.

The vehicle wears 14-inch steelies shod in 185-section width tires. Everything in this car is manual from the five-speed transmission to the windows and mirrors. Options are few and include side airbags for $350 and ABS for $400. A block heater came at no charge. The Monroney claims a base price of $12,760 but $14,000 after those two options and a $490 destination charge. Toss that into an inflation calculator blender and you get $24,248 in today’s money.

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As for why this car never sold, that part isn’t clear. However, a suggestion seems to come from the vehicle’s body, which has the telltale dings of hail damage. Thankfully, the dings aren’t bad, but that’s still bad news for a new car sitting on a lot.

Thornton notes that all of the cars pulled out of the warehouse are getting refreshed before they’re started for the first time in 20 years. Apparently, this Focus had a nasty gas tank with some foul fuel in it. That’s been cleaned up, and the fuel pump and filters were replaced. The car also got fresh maintenance including fluids and tires. Still, this is a car that sat for 20 years and has accumulated just 117 miles, so I wouldn’t expect perfectly smooth sailing. Gaskets and seals will probably become unhappy after being put into service after so much time.

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Look, ma, no hazing!

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Now, I do have some bad news. Centsible Auto Sales wants $20,000 or best offer for this car. If you account for inflation, that is cheaper than it cost new, but that’s still $20,000 for a 22-year-old Focus with likely hail damage. It’s otherwise a perfect Focus, but still a base model Focus. Logically, if you just need a car, you can get more bang for your buck with a Nissan Versa. However, in my years of loving cars, I’ve found that every car has at least one diehard enthusiast. Maybe there’s a Focus fan out there who wants to drive the nicest first-generation Focus left in 2024.

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Personally, I’m just blown away at how clean this Focus is. It’s been so many years of seeing these cars peppered in rust, cigarette burns, and faded paint that just the time-capsule-ness of the car is worthy on its own. Is it worth $20,000? Maybe not, but looking at this Focus sure is fun. I’ll be watching for the perfect Ranger to make an appearance.

(Images: Centsible Auto Sales, unless otherwise noted.)

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Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
5 months ago

Every last gasket and seal and rubber part on that car needs to be replaced pretty much immediately. The brakes need to be gone through. I really don’t see it being worth any cost. Sitting kills cars this one’s good for scrap or parts.

JDE
JDE
5 months ago

miles be damned, this is a 5K max. Still, I would rock that thing if it made sense to buy

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago

Well I had to find out. Centsible is a used car dealer no new cars. They bought inventory and parts and all these new old cars get a 3 month 3,000 mile warranty. That Ranger only has 50 or 500miles on ot if Randy memory works. So ask for him. He is very nice and polite. I need to lookup the plumcrazy purple convertible Oldsmobile to see what motor it has. Maybe a 442?

Isis
Isis
5 months ago

Man I know someone who would pay good-ass money for a brand new 2002 Ranger.

Chris Popovic
Chris Popovic
5 months ago

God bless the fool that parts with $20K for this rig. I can see $3K, maybe $4-5K for the quirkiness or shits/giggles, but a late model Toyota beater would be far more reliable and have much more to offer. But as the article states, all it takes is one.

JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
5 months ago

Wow! I had a Focus wagon 23 years ago. If this was a wagon, I’d pay them MSRP for it.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  JKcycletramp

They are asking 6k over msrp but Randy asked for an offer

Cal67
Cal67
5 months ago

Since it was never registered, I would be curious if Ford would honour the factory warranty. I remember years back someone had a Honda CBR1100 in the original crate for sale on eBay and the seller checked with Honda and they said they would honour the warranty if the bike was registered. Still overpriced but could be enough to tip someone over the edge of paying this amount.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  Cal67

I asked this originally and finally had to check 3 month 3,000 miles. It’s used cars only.

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

They’re referring to the Ford warranty, not the dealer warranty.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  Ted Fort

I know I originally mentioned that at the beginning. And no dealer warranty just the typical 3 month warranty is available.

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

And you’ve contacted Ford about it?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  Ted Fort

No the dealer, they told me they checked. Claimed there is a maximum amount of years before it goes away.

BenCars
BenCars
5 months ago

Buy it! The first-gen Focus was one of the best handling mainstream cars in modern history. This will be a hoot to drive.

Autojunkie
Autojunkie
5 months ago

I purchased a low mileage and rust-free 2010 Focus six years ago for my daughter. The car was already eight years old but looked, smelled, and rode like a new car. I paid $8K from a local Ford dealer. It felt like a bit much at the time, but my brother had recently sold a similar car and, from someone who typically complained about every car he had, stated it was the most reliable car he ever owned. So I pulled the trigger.
My daughter is now married, has her own house, and her husband has a Tesla Model Y, but she still has her little Focus and has no intention of selling after six years of literal trouble-free ownership. The rockers have finally started rusting through last year, but she has had zero issues with the car except when I had to replace a battery no longer willing to hold a charge. By 2010, I think Ford had worked out most issues with the Focus before shooting themselves in the foot with the DCT in the following model.
Would I spend $20K on this one posted here? Um… no! I don’t even think I would spend $10 on this car, but there is a but for every seat and considering this is at a buy-here/pay-here lot, I’ll bet the buy gets a “deal” on the car at say $17K with a 7 year loan at noting less then 12.5%. I’ll bet the dealer picked this car up for less than $5K too.

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
5 months ago

I just bought one of these yesterday for Daughter #2! But, obviously not in this condition!

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
5 months ago

Love to see it, but if I was a Focus nut, I would be waiting for a mint hatch or wagon.

Which Focus is best Focus? Hatch Focus is best Focus.

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
5 months ago

I am more interested in the Ranger that was sitting in the warehouse for 20 years. Why start with the Focus? It makes me think the other cars have more serious issues than just sitting for 20 years. The Focus is a blast from the past. My college girlfriend (now wife of 20+ years) got one of these from her parents when she was finishing up grad school. That sounds like a nice enough gift, but it was a replacement for the1989 5.0 Mustang convertible she had driven up to that point. Her dad thought she needed something more practical as she went out into the job market so he sold the Mustang and leased a Focus for her to drive for 2 years, after which he figured she should be off his payroll.

Cal67
Cal67
5 months ago

I suspect they figure if they put them all on the market at one time it would dilute the potential market, so will trickle them out one by one hoping to get crazy money for each.

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
5 months ago
Reply to  Cal67

But why start with the most boring model? I am guessing they started with the one that needed the least work to get them ready for sale.

Cal67
Cal67
5 months ago

Possibly, but maybe they figured if they left this one till last, people would be laughing even harder at the asking price.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
5 months ago

They’re selling the best one so they can fix up the others

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  Cal67

Nope all are available they bought the inventory whole with parts just asking too much.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago

The other cars are available Mercedes picked this one for the article

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Are you sure? I went to the dealer’s website (I really want to see this Ranger) and sorted by Ford vehicles. There are a dozen normal high mileage used vehicles and this Focus. I do not see any other unicorns there. And there is not a Ranger listed. But maybe it already sold.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago

Pretty sure I called the dealership talked to Randy he said they have all of them for sale. Maybe not listed but he was very forthcoming. Call them ask for Randy and say Dave ,we had a filing talk, said he said Ranger was for sale. Make sure you use Centsibal with a C. Otherwise you are in a different state.

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
5 months ago

Did the SPI shake any less in the Focus than it did in the Escort? I actually loved my ’99 Escort but damn at idle you could pretty much see the steering wheel vibrate.

That guy
That guy
5 months ago

Those engines ” the single overhead cam” are famous for dropping number 4 valve seat on top of piston and breaking the piston. The dual cam engines were great.

Last edited 5 months ago by That guy
UA6 Driver
UA6 Driver
5 months ago
Reply to  That guy

Yes. Booo on the SPI (this engine), Yay for the Zetec DOHC.

Uninformed Fucknugget
Uninformed Fucknugget
5 months ago

I’d be tempted to buy this if it wasn’t priced quite as high. If nothing just to relive my younger days. I had three of these in the past and all of them were clockwork reliable.
My favorite one was the holy trinity that everyone seems to covet but no one buys.

I actually owned a beige wagon with a manual transmission!

Fordlover1983
Fordlover1983
5 months ago

My “beige manual wagon” was a Plymouth Reliant!

LaythU-K
LaythU-K
5 months ago

I would love to see someone buy one of these super low mileage, yet very mundane cars that seem to be popping up recently and document driving them normally, perhaps even very spirited.

J Wamsley
J Wamsley
5 months ago

This warms my heart. Back when these were, like, everywhere I was responsible for getting about a half dozen Foci into peoples hands. I love car shopping and cars, and I helped a bunch of people looking for their first “responsible adult” cars. When asked for a small car recommendation I always picked the Focus. I had several as rentals when I traveled for work and they were actually nice and fun to drive. For the same money as a basic Honda or Toyota, you could get an upgraded focus with a manual and leather.

My favorite was a red ST with leather, sunroof and a manual that a grad student bought while I accompanied her. She had long curly black hair and was quite beautiful. She looked perfect in the car and drove the wheels off it.

I also helped a friend out with one of these. Some of the details fail me, but my friend’s aunt was down on her luck and living with his family until she got on her feet. He is well off and has a nice place that had a spare basement bedroom. Her old T Bird had died and repairs were way more than the car was worth, and she couldn’t afford them anyway. After lots of discussion, the friend and I decided to visit the Ford dealer. There was a super low option Focus on the back of the lot that hadn’t sold for a year and a half, basically a two year old new car. Because it had so few options nobody wanted it but us. But the seats weren’t ripped, it ran, had tires with tread, was cheap to begin with and the dealer wanted it gone. My friend negotiated a ridiculously low payment, something like $250 a month and simply gave the car to his aunt and paid the payment himself. The stipulation was that she would pay for insurance and maintenance. She still has it and has happily turned her luck. She tells people that his kind gesture saved her life. For him it was simple. It was easier to pay a small set fee monthly and know his aunt was in a safe reliable car than to pay a few grand at random intervals keeping the t bird going. All without the awkward loan conversations when she couldn’t afford the repairs herself.

Rafael
Rafael
5 months ago

Some of those NOS cars are like discovering a rare wine forgotten away in a cellar, and some are like finding a Twinkle behind the coach – technically still edible, but is it valuable enough to warrant the risk?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

I prefer twinkies to fine wine. Don’t even serve it if it has a cork. So butt for every seat.

Rafael
Rafael
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I myself would answer my own question with a big YES – this is the Autopian, after all, so of course we would prefer the twinkle – probably while showering!

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
5 months ago

That interior, wow, takes assymetrical to whole now level.

Chris D
Chris D
5 months ago

Leave it to a car dealer to price a car at twice (or more) what it’s worth.
It will be more problematic than a new car, will be a worthless old car within a few years, has hail damage and will surprise the owner with stuff that doesn’t work at any given moment. If you insure it with full coverage and someone T-bones it, it would take an act of God to get more than a couple grand as a settlement.
A slightly used anything at 20K would be a better buy. This was an economy car back then, and should be cheaper than an economy car now, not more expensive.
On the other hand, it could be perfectly serviceable, in an old VW kind of way – gets you around, with nothing unnecessary added. But no one needs to part with 20 Gs to get basic transportation.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

For LESS MONEY you can get a new Nissan Versa!

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
5 months ago
Reply to  Marques Dean

Yeah, you’re gonna need some work on THAT sales pitch… 😉

Lokki
Lokki
5 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Agreed, that Versa argument has about the same appeal as, “For less money, you can get someone to stamp on your foot…

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
5 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

You gotta shop around. It depends on the customers needs.

Clark B
Clark B
5 months ago
Reply to  Marques Dean

For $20k or less in my area, you can buy a brand new: Versa, Mirage, Rio, or Forte. All of which will come with a warranty, air conditioning, power windows and probably Bluetooth. And of course, you wouldn’t have to do business with a buy here pay here lot. $20k for that Focus is a head scratcher.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
5 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

If I could put 20 large on a car (I am a Poor, so I can’t), I would buy neither this overpriced Focus, or a brand-new 20k crapcan. I’d probably have 2 or 3 ostensibly splendid, but in actuality questionable, vehicles.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
5 months ago
Reply to  Clark B

In my area unfortunately the same vehicles are going for $30K-and that’s BEFORE the dealers mark them up!
Even then,interest rates are atrocious!

Isis
Isis
5 months ago
Reply to  Marques Dean

But then you’d have to drive the turd

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
5 months ago
Reply to  Isis

And yet somehow it still survives!

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

Yeah, this is a neat story that the dealership took a giant dump on with that price. Plus it will be weird seeing them try to sell it as an enthusiast car with a 20% interest loan while surrounded by 5 year old Altimas that have had more repossessions than oil changes.

Lokki
Lokki
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

The general rule of thumb in the collector car market is that low miles on an old car are worth (almost) nothing, unless the car will continue to be a display piece. Once you start to drive it, the magic low miles adds to its value starts to disappear. This car is not an investment piece – unless you drive it, you’ve wasted your money completely. After 20 years, it’s the best example in existence and it has not appreciated at all after adjusting for inflation. There’s no reason to believe that will change for at least another 20 years, if ever.

Further, for car that’s to be driven, the advantages of low mileage are financially offset by the disadvantages of a car sitting unused for 20 years. Every belt, hose, and gasket is suspect. All the upholstery has been drying out for 20 years. The tires have aged out and are unsafe. The pistons in the brake calipers may (probably) have become stuck.

In short, for $20K you are way better off to buy a used Honda et al.

Cal67
Cal67
5 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

Exactly this. The perceived value is based solely on the mileage, not on what the car is. Therefore actually driving it would depreciate it more quickly than it would have if it had sold shortly after being manufactured.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
5 months ago
Reply to  Lokki

On the flip side, the BHPH lot only needs ONE victim customer.

Someone commented that if this were a wagon he’d have bought it. It may not be terribly hard to find a Focus sedan devotee.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
5 months ago

It’s ironic that when the Focus was first introduced, Ford was trying to sell to a specific demographic group (in particular Generation X) at that time. But in a surprise twist, the Focus found popularity among older customers as well,who wanted a simple car with decent fuel economy to get them from Point A to Point B and so on!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
5 months ago
Reply to  Marques Dean

But now genxers are the old people market, with money but probably not dumb enough to buy. I bet the buyer has a man-bun.

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