It may have taken on countless forms in the years he’s owned it, but something has always remained a constant with Tim Joyce’s tuned Ford Focus ST: the way it beautifully balances power and style like most other cars can only dream of…
Suspense is often the crucial ingredient in making something awesome. Put it this way: that thriller film you watched at the cinema recently sure wouldn’t be half as thrilling if it didn’t keep you on the edge of your seat for the duration, would it?
It’s an exercise that’s been religiously stuck to throughout the whole eight years that UPS delivery driver Tim here has owned this tuned Ford Focus ST MK2. Keen to emerge afresh at the start of each show season with another batch of mods that keep everyone on their toes, it’s single-handedly pushing the envelope for other STs across the globe to attempt to follow as a result.
Sure, there have been plenty of hurdles along the way, but by sticking to the winning formula of ensuring it remains both savagely fast and nothing short of spectacular to look at throughout its evolution, things really have only got better as time’s gone on…
The story begins rather unconventionally all those years ago: with a phone call from Tim’s mother, from a Honda dealership. “She told me she’d spotted a Moondust Silver ST in there that they’d taken as part-exchange,” Tim recalls. The car sounding like it carried his dream spec and he promptly made a beeline over to the garage to check it out for himself.
“I remember parking up my Fiesta ST for what would be the last time and seeing the beautiful Mk2 Focus in the forecourt,” he continues. His heart was set on snapping up the motor – a decision cemented by an extremely enjoyable test drive a few minutes later.
The then-bone-stock hot hatch quickly succeeded in delighting young Tim with the way its iconic boosted five-pot motor did its business so effectively, with its new owner initially having no intention of changing up the formula in the slightest. But, as is so often the case with us car nuts, things quickly escalated…
“I soon found myself on the forums looking for subtle upgrades I could perform,” Tim remembers, opening up a whole new world in the process. “I didn’t realise just how tunable these cars were!” Sensibly deciding to focus his attentions on performance before he got his hands dirty in the styling department, what followed was the best part of a decade of fine fettling, blown engines and plenty of blood, sweat and tears to get the car to the incredible stage you see it in today.
Soon hooking up with Carl and Jared from Hull-based Dreamscience Automotive – the first of many talented outfits that would apply their skilled hands to this car – Tim started things off with a Stratagem Stage 1 re-map, which saw power increase from 225bhp to a healthy 260bhp. “This transformed the way the car drove and only spurred me onto keep going with the build,” Tim explains, things starting to get more serious by the minute.
Cue the next stage of tuning – with a beefier Airtec intercooler, cold air intake and huge Cobra Venom exhaust system soon finding their way onto the sporty three-door, which, when tied in with another map from the Dreamscience boys, saw 290bhp and 325lb.ft on the dyno.
This was enough in Tim’s eyes to unlock the world of styling upgrades, with some of the car’s factory plastic trim first sent off to get freshened up with a lick of paint while he looked into ways to make his Ford stand out from the rest. Soon boasting coilovers and new rims to sharpen up the exterior, it was in November 2013 that the first of many issues reared their ugly head, in the shape of a cracked cylinder liner – the Achilles heel of the ST’s lump.
“I was devastated. But Dreamscience took it upon themselves to resolve it, and just three days later, the car was back up and running with shimmed liners, meaning it should’ve never happened again,” a relieved Tim says, allowing him to get back on track with making the car look even more epic once again.
The following few summer show seasons saw plenty more bits come and go, including several sets of colourful wheels and even a new daily driver in Tim’s life to allow him to focus more seriously on this project.
“I never try to follow the crowds and wanted to set my own trends instead,” he says, explaining how the process of snapping up new parts often came by stumbling upon things he’d like and thought would work well on the Focus – rather than simply mimicking similar cars out there.
The next big change came in 2015 in the form of a full air suspension system – a first for the Focus ST in the UK but a job that the talented team at Plush Automotive was more than happy to take on. Two weeks after wheeling it into the Leicestershire-based firm’s HQ, the car was sporting a killer air system, as well as a subtle boot install and, most importantly, a stance to die for!
Before he could enjoy the suspension too much though, the dreaded cylinder liner issue returned, forcing Tim and Dreamscience to source an entirely new engine but finally putting the gremlins to bed for good in the process.
In the last few years, Tim’s kept himself busy by switching up the car with various sets of sumptuous split rims, with the current set of Schmidt VN-Lines that were perfectly restored by Wheel Unique being his personal favourite of the bunch so far. The car’s also received a subtle boot build overhaul from Novak’s Projekthaus to offer up a hidden storage area whilst retaining the OEM-levels of class that are so effortlessly seen across the board.
With the recent additions of a sturdier fuelling system and another re-map, performance figures currently stand at 330bhp and 400lb.ft of torque – more than enough to give Tim the white-knuckle wake-up call he needs during the occasional weekend blast and also providing the perfect match to the spotless way the engine bay itself now looks.
Choosing to follow an entirely different path to most ST owners might have been seen as a controversial move in the Ford scene, but how many of those rows of track-spec’d orange examples you see at shows can really snap necks like this Tim’s creation here can?
“I’ve had some ups and downs with this car, but met some seriously amazing people along the way. I certainly wouldn’t change anything I’ve done to it over the past eight years!” he proudly explains.
We’ll keep our eyes peeled for his next move, which at the rate he works at, should be any day now…
TECH SPEC: FORD FOCUS ST
Moondust Silver body; custom gloss-black honeycomb front grilles; PFL gloss-black front foglight surrounds with LED foglights; RS Parts gloss black front splitter; Maxton Designs gloss black front bumper splitters; Bespoke USDM running lights; 3M gloss-black vinyl roof wrap; colour-coded Triple R Composites rear lip spoiler; face-lift ST rear bumper with Triple R Composites three-finned rear diffuser in gloss black; face-lift rear boot lid with tinted glass; face-lift ST/RS LED rear lights; Euro-spec reverse light; Transformers-style rear badge; Kill All Wipers wiper delete kit; Team Heko wind deflectors; face-lift wing mirrors in gloss black; Focus XR5 Australian-spec wing badges; flattened inside lips on front wings; all OEM exterior plastics painted gloss black.
2.5-litre 20v five-cylinder turbocharged Duratec engine; Dreamscience cold air induction system with dry-charge filter; Dreamscience block mod; Stage 2 Airtec intercooler with RS scoops and grey detailing; 3in Mongoose downpipe and de-cat pipe with 3in Cobra Venom cat-back exhaust system and 4in inverted slash-cut tips; 440cc Focus RS fuel injectors; gloss black Anembo inlet plenum with red detailing; Forge Motorsport actuator and recirculation valve; Focus RS vacuum pipe; gloss black Focus RS ECU holder; gloss black Auto Specialists coolant tank and cap with red detailing; gloss black Volvo T5 engine cover with red detailing; gloss black and red symposer delete cover; gloss black RS battery cover; red SFS Performance coolant and boost hoses; all engine plastics painted gloss black with various chrome covers finished in Colorado Red and hand-painted detailing; Dreamscience Mod XRS+ V2 overrun re-map; six-speed manual gearbox; Focus RS clutch with single-mass lightened flywheel; Auto Specialists quick shift kit; Elevate gearbox torque mount.
9.5x18in Schmidt VN-Line three-piece split rims finished with gloss black barrels, metallic silver faces and machine polished dishes; stainless steel split rim bolts; custom Schmidt gel centre caps; 215/40×18 Nankang NS-2R tyres; air suspension system (comprising Air Lift Performance struts, AccuAir e-Level management, twin VIAIR 444c compressors and five-gallon tank with aluminium hard lines); Powerflex front polybushed wishbones; Elevate rear anti-roll bar; gloss black/red Summit front upper strut brace; Summit upper rear strut brace; adjustable Hardrace camber arms.
Full face-lift carbon fibre interior swap with clocks and boost gauge; Corbeau Sportline RRS reclining bucket seats; custom boot build with false floor and storage hatch; Prosport air vent-mounted boost gauge; uprated heater controls.
Carl, Jared and all the team at Dreamscience Tuning; Paul Sharman and all the team at Barkston Refinishing; Dan Taylor at Wheel Unique; Will and Neil at Greenlight Insurance; Jim at Novak’s Projekthaus.
Words Sam Preston Photography Jules Truss