Sporting scissor doors and air-ride, this bagged Mk2 Focus ST is bringing the spirit of the 2000s into today’s modifying scene.

Lambo doors. They were everywhere on the show scene in the late-1990s and early-2000s – and we’re telling you, they’re coming back. Their presence on this bagged Mk2 Focus ST is all part of a fusion of retro styles and attitudes that takes the turn-of-the-millennium ethos and reframes it for the mid-2020s. If there was one cultural snapshot that influenced the tuning scene of the 2000s more than any other, it was The Fast and the Furious. That movie came out in 2001, and immediately captured the hearts of a modding generation.

Yes, it was largely absurd in quite a lot of its details (who has time to check a laptop that’s flashing ‘DANGER TO MANIFOLD’ while they’re street-racing? Why would your passenger floor fall out just because you’re driving really fast? Why didn’t that Jetta have any front calipers? How does that guy at the party keep ham-fistedly strumming his guitar without anyone tearing it out of his hands and smacking him with it?), but its influence was clear: suddenly all the cool kids wanted Skylines, S2000s, RX-7s, and anything else Japanese that they could get their hands on.

Cue a rush to slather everything in full-length Manga graphics – yes, even Vectras and Mondeos. Cars got painted bright orange, fitted with colossal aluminium spoilers, and bathed in a lurid glow of underbody neon. Everyone wanted to be Dom Toretto or Brian O’Conner. The noughties refracted the excess of the nineties through a glittery Hollywood filter, and we all luxuriated in the warming majesty of it all.

aftermarket wheels on bagged Mk2 Focus ST

John’s car ownership history

This had a clear influence on the genesis of John Easton’s motoring adventures. “I’ve owned quite a few cars since passing my test in 2005, and each one has been modified,” he explains. “The day I passed, I had a 1990 Honda Civic 1.4 to which I added 17” TSW Venoms, twin 5” Rage exhausts, plus the obligatory Pioneer head unit, sub, amp and 6×9 speakers.”

After these initial JDM dabblings it all started to get a bit more Blue Oval for John, as he followed up this tuna-no-crust ride with a Mk4 Escort, a Mk1 Focus, a Galaxy, and Mk3 and Mk4 Mondeos. Prior to this Focus, he built up a Fiesta ST150 with coilovers, ST170 brakes, RS bonnet, Milltek system and a whole bunch of other mods, most of which was carried out on his driveway during the Covid lockdowns.

airtec induction kit

Buying the Mk2 Ford Focus ST

“In late 2020 I started looking for a Focus to go alongside the Fiesta,” he recalls. “I was searching for a Performance Blue pre-facelift Mk2; I searched everywhere but just couldn’t seem to find one I liked or that didn’t look a little rough. I began looking through Facebook groups and came across this red facelift Focus; just for the record, I hated red cars! But after a couple of messages to the seller we arranged to meet up so I could take a look.

It was out of my price range, so my Fiesta was to become part of the deal. I got to the location earlier than agreed and he hadn’t arrived yet; while we were waiting I was talking to my wife about the car and all of a sudden you could hear this loud exhaust note getting closer and closer… then this red Focus pulls in and instantly I wanted it. In fact, nothing was going to stop me owning it! Needless to say the deal was done and a week later it was mine. I was gutted I had to let the Fiesta go, but the Focus was what I really wanted.”

In terms of spec, the car was already rocking a Cobra exhaust, a Stage 1 tune and the all-important block mod – a great base upon which to apply all of those ideas he’d absorbed through the Max Power era. John’s keen to point out that the car as-bought was exactly what he’d been after and he had absolutely no plans to modify anything, but everybody says that and it’s always a bunch of old tommyrot. Once this stuff’s in your bloodstream, there’s no squeezing it out. And so, with a sense of absolute inevitability, the modding commenced with gusto pretty much straight away.

bagged Mk2 Focus ST engine

Initial modifications for the Mk2 Focus ST

After owning the car for a little over a month, he took it to his brother – who’s a Ford Master Tech – to get it up on the ramp for a general health check. And this is when John’s wallet was gently eased open, as a slipping clutch was joined by brakes in need of replacement, new tyres, new lower control arms… with this in mind, he ordered all the bits he’d need, upgrading to an RS clutch and flywheel, and for good measure he threw in a 3” Airtec downpipe, Cobra sport cat and an Airtec torque mount. And with that all sorted, the Focus was starting to feel pretty good.

“June 2021 is when I decided to start making it look a little different on the outside,” he says, “with Rallyflapz, a genuine RS spoiler, and a TRC lowline kit. I was happy with the car until around, well, a month later – that’s when I knew I wanted a little bit more power! I wanted to make it at least 300bhp, twice the power of my old ST150. So I purchased an Airtec plenum, Turbosmart recirculation valve, an Airtec Stage 2 intercooler, and a Dreamscience iMap.

Once I’d fitted the parts and loaded up Dreamscience Mod X, I was pretty happy with how the car felt – so much more alive. A couple of days later I managed to grab some RS 440 injectors, so now I could run Mod XRS on the iMap unit – and wow, the car felt great! So much more lively than before. By that stage I thought I’d done all that I wanted to do… although subconsciously I guess I knew different.”

door open on bagged Mk2 Focus ST

Scratching the itch

Naturally, John barely stopped for a moment before he was changing stuff again, having the bronze wheels refurbed in black and everything under the bonnet hydro-dipped in a forged carbon effect. Somebody mentioned that fitting a Turbosmart actuator would make the most of his setup, and in doing so he discovered that the boost was surging – which was annoying, but actually a blessing in disguise, as John then booked it in at Sabre Tuning who diagnosed the issue as a faulty boost solenoid, mapped the car, and left him with 330bhp to play with.

roll cage and subwoofer in boot

“I don’t need any more power than this, I’m not chasing big bhp – it’s time to enjoy the car for what it is… said no-one, ever,” he laughs. “By now we’re into 2023, and this is by far the most modified car I’ve ever owned. I added WRC vents, black mirror covers, gloss black washer jets, a chameleon windscreen tint and a full Vibe audio setup. But I wanted it to stand out for 2023, it needed something else.

Air Lift suspension was what I wanted, along with a false floor and rear cage; this was joined by a strut brace, Superpro lower control arms, Hardrace drop links – I probably should’ve got this installed by a garage but I wanted to have a go at it myself, so I called a mate and asked if he was up for helping install the air ride. He didn’t even hesitate, the answer was a firm yes! Thirteen hours it took us on a scissor lift ramp, and that was just the Air Lift parts. We had fun installing it all and it was a definitely a day to remember. Yes, we are still friends!”

Corbeau bucket seats

Interior modifications for the bagged Mk2 Focus ST

The car was getting a great reception at the shows, and John was keen to get the interior as match-fit as the rest of the car, so he set about sourcing a pair of Corbeau Sportline RRS seats and having some custom red stitching done. And it was at this point that the 2000s nostalgia really kicked in. What better way to showcase a fancy new set of seats than with a pair of Lambo-style scissor doors?

rear 3/4 shot of bagged Mk2 Focus ST

Returning modifying trends

It’s often said that fashion is cyclical: today’s modders in their late-thirties and forties are of an age whereby the nostalgic yearning for the cars of their youth starts to tug at the heartstrings, and they’re at a position in their lives to afford to build the cars that their teenage selves could have only dreamt about. That’s why Lambo doors are coming back. And what else can we expect to see making a return from that era? Venoms, Morettes, CDs affixed behind front grilles, airbrushed fibreglass sub enclosures, bad-boy bonnets? (Please, not Lexus lights.)

Whatever it is, it’s going to be all over the scene like a neon shellsuit. And we’d better keep an eye on what John’s doing next with his bagged Mk2 Focus ST – because you can be damn sure that phrases like ‘I’d done all that I wanted to do’ and ‘I don’t need any more power’ aren’t going to fly.

Photos: Jason Dodd.