Custom Ford Focus a fountain of inspiration

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

Each year at the automotive aftermarket industry trade convention, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, four awards are given to honor the automakers whose vehicles most frequently are chosen by accessory and customization parts producers to showcase their wares.

At the most recent SEMA Show, the vehicles most popular with the customizing crowd were: 4x4: Jeep Wrangler, Truck: Ford F Series, Car: Ford Mustang and Sport Compact: Ford Focus.

Our focus here is on the Focus, the company’s compact but sporty hatchback that has become popular with younger buyers not only for its price and practicality, but because it can be anything from a commuter vehicle to an all-out rally cross racer. Customized and modified Focuses were all over at SEMA, but none was quite as radical, or eye-catching, as the 2015 Ford Focus ST by Rally Innovations.

OK, you may not have the budget or expertise available to Anaheim, California-based Rally Innovations, but its tweaks can give you ideas and point you in the right direction both in visual and performance alterations.

Rally Innovations started with a 2015 Focus ST, a fun driver powered by Ford’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged EcoBoost engine, good for 252 horsepower, 270 pound-feet of torque and equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox. But to extract even more from the engine, it added intake and exhaust systems and an intercooler by Greddy and a Cobb Tuning Accessport, a plug-in and play, hand-held device that adjusts the engine’s computer so you can commute calmly during the week and roar around the pylons on weekends without the need of a wrench.

Rally Innovations also tweaked the car’s suspension with RS-R Sports-i coilovers, Ri Concepts slotted brake rotors, Whiteline camber-adjustment bushings and a Cobb Tuning adjustable shift plate. To make the most of the suspension changes, it bolted on a set of 19-inch Rays 57 Xtreme wheels wrapped with Nitto NT550 tires.

Since this vehicle is meant to be exercised to the extreme, it also got a roll cage within the passenger compartment, Cusco/Bride Euroster II+C adjustable racing seats with four-point safety harnesses, red LED lighting accessories and, for those non-competitive driving times, an upgraded Sony 401A sound system.

If you’re looking to be in stealth mode, you could stop right there. Rally Innovations did not. It added Baja Designs LED exterior lighting, its own aero body kit with three-piece aluminum front splitter, side splitters, wheel diverters and what it calls its Gundam-style vented hood, rear hatch spoiler, wide fenders, roof scoop, side moldings, camera mount and graphics. (Gundam comes from a Japanese anime television series featuring giant robotic warrior suits controlled by a human housed in a cockpit within the suit’s torso.)

As if all that isn’t flamboyant enough, the car is painted in House of Kolor “Sno White” Pearl and “Blood Red” with white, red and Graphite Gray accents.

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