Hot-rodders offer template for modding a modern compact

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

So what happens when a hot-rod shop with a resume that includes a Detroit Autorama Great 8 finalist as well as a contender for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster works its magic on a modern pocket rocket?

Well, you get something along the lines of the spectacular 2016 Ford Fiesta ST by Tucci Hot Rods, a car that Ford displayed on its corporate stand at the recent SEMA Show, a trade show that is to hot-rodding and custom car-building what the North American International Auto Show is to the new-car industry.

Dave and Jill Tucci Jr. opened their shop in Marcy, New York, in 1997 and have become known, along with son Dominic, for turning out vehicles such as the 1939 GMC pickup that was a Great 8 finalist at the 2012 Detroit Autorama.

“How do you make the insanely fun and nimble Fiesta ST even better?” asked the placard next to the compact Ford.

“You slam it to the ground and double the power,” the Tucci team answered.

You can see the result of its work here, and while you may not have the expertise to duplicate what it did — including 3-D printing the oversized and vented fenders — you can use the Tucci Fiesta as a template for modifying your own vehicle.

Basically, the Tuccis started with a basic, though EcoBoosted, 2016 Ford Fiesta ST with a six-speed manual transmission, a fun-right-from-the-factory car that comes with 197 eager horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque, seemingly plenty for a tossable car (like the one in the Ken Block videos) that weighs in at less than 2,750 pounds.

Getting all that power from a 1.6-liter four-banger is cool, but as the placard noted, why not double the power? So the Tucci shop installed a Full-Race turbo kit, plus Cobb Tuning Accessport V3, Borla exhaust, Spec Stage 4 clutch, Mountune limited-slip differential, DEI exhaust wrap and turbo blanket, and Mishimoto aluminum expansion tank and baffled oil catch can.

Voila! Four-hundred horsepower.

But power needs to be controlled and there’s that “slammed” part of the placard, so JRI coil-over suspension was bolted on, as were Eibach sway bars and a Mountune lower chassis brace. The wheels were converted to a five-lug configuration with big Wilwood five-piston brakes and 18-inch Forgeline CF1 wheels wrapped with Falken RT615K tires.

The hood was vented and a custom wide-body kit was fabricated, in part with 3-D printing technology. The car was painted in a PPG shade called Pure White. For amazing after-dark illumination, a KC Hilites flex-light bar was installed just above the custom front lip spoiler.

Inside, there are Sparco Pro 2000 II series seats with six-point belts and HANS safety harnesses, a Racepak IQ35 dash display, roll cage and Kicker Audio L7QB8 system, which may be loud enough to be heard above the screaming engine.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at