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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Marques Dean
Marques Dean
2 months ago

Seeing as how that this is an LX base model it’s equipped with the the 2.0 liter S.P.I.(Split Port Induction) engine that was a carryover from the Focus’ predecessor,the Escort. Other trim levels were available with the 2.0 liter Zetec or depending on where in the U.S. you were located (literally) a 2.0 liter or 2.3 liter Duratec engine (some of the engines were derated in horsepower and torque to meet PZEV-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle requirements in states that adopted modified versions of California emissions standards.).

MrLM002
MrLM002
2 months ago

This is why automakers should have their previous offerings on their new car dealer search websites. Every time I go looking for NOS models and generations of cars that are more than one year older than the last one produced I cannot find them on Manufacturer inventory websites.

There have many a time where I want to buy a NOS vehicle and many dealerships won’t advertise them on something like Carfax so you cannot find them unless you’re in person or they advertise somewhere else.

Sarah Blikre
Sarah Blikre
2 months ago

I wanna see those factory fresh ZX2s

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
2 months ago

20K? I’m laughing too hard to comment on that shit….

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
2 months ago

I thought these were really ugly when they came out. They were pretty radical then with all the angles when a lot of cars were still very rounded, also tall an slab sided, which, unfortunately, became a trend. I do like the car’s basic analog appeal, but I still don’t like the styling. It sort of represents all that went bad with car styling the last twenty years.

If you did want a pristine old Focus man…old record player needle scratch sound..hail damage kind of ruins the appeal, of a low mile, time capsule car I would think.

I want to see the Ranger…

Last edited 2 months ago by ProudLuddite
Live2ski
Live2ski
2 months ago

so is this car going to show up in Ford’s sales stats for the quarter? A new 2002 Focus sold in 2024.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Live2ski

I had that same thought. Unfortunately I don’t think so, since it was acquired from the original dealer? It’s theoretically still on open MSO though?

R53forfun
R53forfun
2 months ago

I’d just like to thank The Autopian for *two* glorious garbage articles today :).

Last edited 2 months ago by R53forfun
R53forfun
R53forfun
2 months ago

Ha!

CSRoad
CSRoad
2 months ago

I figure it’s probably worth half the asking price.
IIRC the first gen. Focus was the most recalled vehicle in Ford history at one point. I would imagine by 2002 most of the fixes would be incorporated in production. Interesting finds, I imagine the Ranger would be a hotter commodity in the current market.

Goblin
Goblin
2 months ago

I see this specific car had to go on wet winter asphalt for the picture, so its mileage doesn’t matter – it’s effectively already rusted 😛

A friend had the exact same one (stick shift, same model, same everything, it was gray though, not blue). He absolutely loved it, as it was a no BS car.

Got it to 100000ish miles with no issues (weekly commutes from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and back), always maintained at the dealership, When the car hit about 8 years he was told it’s becoming dangerous to drive because of rust that had started to eat into something structural.

He drove it for another year or so, and was again told – emphatically – that the car is increasingly dangerous to drive.

So he decided to junk it, and gave it a final goodbye drive to the junkyard. Then his rear wheel either fell off, or fell through – never got the exact details – on the way to the junkyard. So he still had to flatbed it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Goblin
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

So since it was never titled does it come with the new car warranty?

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Another excellent question. Hilariously I don’t see why not.

B P
B P
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

There’s the full VIN in one of the photos, unfortunately Ford’s warranty website still isn’t working…

B P
B P
2 months ago
Reply to  B P

Actually it appears it was titled in 2014, so probably not…
http://clients.automanager.com/scripts/autocheckreport.aspx?VID=89c947d94db2dc4cabcb293eb8934360

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago
Reply to  B P

I love the members like you who do the follow up I’m too darn lazy or otherwise unable to accomplish. You guys really make this site better.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
2 months ago

What an odd spec – no A/C might be whatever for the area, but chances are if you’re a stingy enough buyer to be fine without it, you might balk at an extra $750 for the ABS and side airbags. Those were still options on bigger, pricier cars then, so it’s not like buyers were necessarily expecting it.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

I bet the thinking was cheapos who care overwhelmingly about safety. They’re sorta the inverse of many of us in the we’ll put up with anything as long as it has the uplevel powertrain crowd.

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
2 months ago

My random focus story- local Ford dealer was giving away a 2003 ZX3 in 2007ish. Anyone with a valid license could enter, but you had to be present at the dealer for the drawing. 1 entry per person. My buddy and I waited all day at the dealer (we were 17, of course we wanted a free car), and an older guy won. 2nd place got a gift card to a nice diner in town. A friend of ours went through the drawing after to ensure the rules were followed- The guy that won entered over 20 times, the 2nd place entered over 10. When she brought it up to the manager, he said oh well we already finished. Im still a bit salty.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago

LOL put the cocaine down, not worth twice its original MSRP damn

$5000 at best

These cars had lots of problems too

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago

Those handled incredibly well for their price. The platform was years ahead and above the competition. If everything is ok with it, it would be a perfect Autopian treat: an all manual, analogic car that handles superbly.
The price, tho, is insane.

AlterId
AlterId
2 months ago

I had one of these – it was a 2002 SE, so it had power windows and locks along with air conditioning, a CD player and a four-speed automatic to go with that eight-valve 2.0. My 1990 Protege had dumped all its coolant on the freeway and my dad was blunt about me needing a new car, and a friend he played golf with owned a local car rental and leasing company. The one I got had 43,000 miles racked up in two years and needed tires off the bat. It took me a while to remember to shift it into Park (I’d been driving for 21 years and always had a stick for my primary) so I could get the key out of it, but it gave me another 53,000 trouble-free miles over four years (the air bag light was flickering infrequently when I got it and was on steadily by the end) before a dark green first gen Neon knocked me over a median curb from the outer left-turn lane. I really had to plan ahead to change lanes, but the ride and handling were great and after a $200 deductible but compensation for a four-month-old second set of tires and prorated personal property tax, I got back what I paid for it. It wasn’t my dream car, but I was happy with it and it earned my respect despite being pretty basic.

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

I’ll have you know I actually saw a fairly clean Chevy Corsica driving today!

And yes, I was surprised and it was the first one I had seen in a long time.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Impressed. Chevy Berettas, though rare, are way more common in the wild than Corsicas. Hard to believe you could even get them – a midsized sedan – with a manual back then.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago

Having owned a 2001 Focus, albeit in SE trim with A/C and power windows/locks, absolutely not at that price. I’ll admit, it was a good commuter car…when I owned it twenty years ago. Today, there are so many better cars in that price range, all used of course, but with the side benefit of having been driven and therefore less prone to spontaneous seal or bearing failure like long-dormant vehicles are.

Then again, if this were a SVT Focus, I’d be willing to roll the dice on spontaneous self-immolation at half the listed price.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago

Wow.

I own a 2010, which is functionally this car but with more power goodies and a slightly cheesier interior. And engine problems fixed. Though I will point out that even in 2010, 14″ steelies came standard on the base (“S” by that point) model.

Edit: for Mercedes’ comparo, I think this Focus has about the same HP as a current Versa. But it probably weighs less.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack Trade
Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

Ya know, this would be a very good first car for someone’s kid in a northern climate (since it doesn’t have A/C)

The things that went wrong on these focuses, this one doesn’t have. Power door lock actuators went bad a lot, power window issues too… this has neither.

This car only has one potential failure point, but it wouldn’t happen for about 100,000 miles. That motor will probably drop a valve seat later on, but, until then, have some kid beat the shit out of it and learn to drive stick. It at least has the side airbag option, isn’t fast enough to get in too much trouble, and they can learn stick!

First Last
First Last
2 months ago

This car was clearly designed as a hatchback, which had a really unique and cool design that would be tempting with the stick shift. This 4-door with the grafted-on trunk for us Americans always looked awkward to me.

Seals and gaskets aside, there’s something nuts about a 20-year-old stripper model ford with hail damage for 2x MSRP!

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
2 months ago
Reply to  First Last

It’s a quite nice stick too – an MTX75 from Ford’s German operations. It’s a great everyday balanced setup, not too light or heavy a clutch, reasonably precise shift action. It’s one of my favorite parts of my Focus.

Marques Dean
Marques Dean
2 months ago
Reply to  First Last

That generation was available as a 3 door hatchback,5 door hatchback,4 door sedan or 4 door wagon.
One of the few times in Ford’s history that they were flexible!lol

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

I kind of like the early ones.
It’s cheerful and basic. Too bad it ain’t exactly cheap.

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago

20 years without being run at all. What could possibly go wrong?

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago

You mean which would leak better? I’d expect something spectacular to happen on the Focus.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
2 months ago
Reply to  D-dub

Never broke down once in 20 years!

D-dub
D-dub
2 months ago

It’s the ultimate “Ran when parked.” The $20K asking price is the cherry on top “I know what I’ve got. No low ballers.”

Last edited 2 months ago by D-dub
Robn
Robn
2 months ago

Nice. A 22-year old new car with nine 22-year-old recalls.

Timbuck2
Timbuck2
2 months ago

It definitely is a miracle that the interior is in the shape it’s in. The late 90s/early 2000s ford interiors are probably the worst in the company’s history. I had a ford from this era and the whole interior was falling apart. The radio would fall out, door panels pulled off the doors, the gauge cluster lights went out several times, and the dome lights kept coming loose. That said, I still have a soft spot for older basic manual cars. I’d be tempted by this if it wasn’t 20k.

Last edited 2 months ago by Timbuck2
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
2 months ago

I see a better one (but with with more miles) all the time. It’s my Mom’s. She’s got maybe 19k on it tops. It’s just like new, except driven just enough that the seals and weatherstripping aren’t shot. Also, no hail damage. When she takes it to the dealer they constantly want to buy it off her (mainly to get her into a new car I suppose) but at 93 she says, “What to do I need with a new car? This one’s fine. How much longer will I be driving anyway?”

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