US Focus fan Dallas Hinman has transformed his tuned Mk3 Ford Focus ST into the ultimate 329bhp road and track all rounder…
The Mk3 Focus ST has been well received in the USA, probably even more so than it has over here in the UK. As a result there’s a wealth of tuning parts available and a huge modifying scene that, as the Mk3 Focus ST is Ford’s first truly global car, UK owners can take advantage of too.
US Focus fan and owner of this stunning ST, Dallas Hinman, remembers the day he first got the keys to fast Ford. “I was actually on my way out to get a MK6 Golf GTi but I popped into my local Ford dealer en rout,e” he explains, “I saw the ST and instantly changed my mind. And because there was a mix up with the dealer stock order and pre-ordered delivery dates the dealer actually had a car there and then available to buy – before any of the pre-ordered customers took deliver of their STs. Needless to say, I drove out of the showroom with a brand new Focus ST!”
Knowing that he was going to modify the car but with not many tuning products available so soon after launch, Dallas decided his first upgrade would be sorting the suspension. “I’m a huge proponent of lowering a car before any other mods are done,” he admits, “but there was little on the market in the way of suspension. H&R were the first to release coilovers for the ST so I snagged a set as soon as I could – it turns out I grabbed the only set in the US for about two months! Mine was the only ST outside of SEMA to be fitted with coilovers!”
This, of course, started the ball rolling for future modifications. And next up were wheels. “I knew the car would get aftermarket wheels, and I’ve always been a huge fan of the classic five-spoke wheels. Brad an Matt from Fifteen52 were immediately involved with the ST world so I knew they could help me get a set of their Tarmac rims.”
But the Tarmacs aren’t on the car now? No, and neither are the H&R coilovers. Dallas has been through an alarming number of suspensions and wheel combos striving to get the ST sitting, looking, and handling perfectly. “After the H&R coilovers I decided to try some air suspension,” he recalls. “Airlift came out with a kit designed for the Mazda 3, and I really wanted to do something that nobody had done before, so bagged a kit complete with custom lower control arms.”
The result saw the rear of the car sitting really low, but the fronts never quite matched. “There’s a chassis rail at the front running over the front wheels. Which meant the fronts would never go as low to match the rear, explains Dallas, “this was part of the reason I decided to swap out the air ride fro a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers.”
By this time Dallas had started using the ST on a few track days and autocross events but the car still needed to be his daily driver (“as you can see from the matching Recaro baby seats!”), so the air suspension would have quickly shown its limitations. But Dallas found the answer in the shape of KW Variant 3 coilovers: “I firmly believe there isn’t a better matched coilover for the ST than the V3 – it’s fantastic for daily driving and you can easily turn up the wick for track days!”
At the same time as fitting the KWs Dallas also upgraded from standard brakes to a set of Wilwood six-pots up front, again to offer better performance on track days without compromising everyday usability.
As well as various suspension setups, this ST has also sported a warehouse of wheel options. “I really wanted to push the boundaries on wheel fitment,” smirks Dallas, “initially I had Tarmacs in 8.5×18-inch, then I swapped these for wider 9.5×18-inch versions. When I told Brad at Fifteen 52 that’s what I wanted he thought I was crazy, as these are the same size as they had on their TrackSTer demo car which had been fitted with wider fender flares! But the 9.5s fitted perfectly with the air suspension. After that I ran a set of 9×17-inch Enkei RPF1s, but when I fitted the KW coilovers I wanted something new. At that point I fitted the Fifteen 52 forged two-piece Evos!”
Undoubtedly the focus of this ST has been on wheels and suspension, but don’t think Dallas has neglected under the bonnet. Internally the 2.0-litre EcoBoost remains as it did the day it left the factory, but various surrounding components have all been replaced with alternatives. The stock turbocharger has made way for a Garrett GTX2867R, the standard exhaust system has been binned in favour of an MBRP system coupled to an Unleashed Tuning de-cat downpipe, the factory inlet has been replaced with a Cobb high performance alternative, and the original intercooler has been upgraded to a mountune high-flow item.
That’s not the only hand mountune have had in this ST either; “the ECU has been remapped using a Cobb Tuning Accessport V3 device, but has been loaded with a custom tuning file from Randy at mountune USA!” The result means this fruity Focus now produces an impressive 329hp – and that’s measured at the wheels not the flywheel!
It’s taken Dallas three years to get the car the way he wanted, so what’s next for his ST? “I’m going to have to sell it,” he smiles, “as I’ve just ordered a Mk3 Focus RS! I experimented a lot with this car and it’s finally at a stage I always hoped it would be. I’ve never enjoyed driving the ST as much as I do now, but it’s got to go to make way for the RS.”
The ST has taught Dallas a lot about fast Fords. Having completed 99% of the work himself he now knows his spanner-wielding abilities and limitations, which will undoubtedly come in useful for the forthcoming RS project. And with supportive wife behind him helping out with the project (“I’m colour blind, so she keeps my crazy colour schemes in check!”) who knows, maybe we’ll see Dallas and a Mk3 Focus appear in the mag again. One thing’s for sure, with the Americans now fully on board the future for Ford tuning has never looked so good!
OWNER: DALLAS HINMAN
TECH SPEC: FORD FOCUS ST MK3
2.0-litre EcoBoost, Cobb Tuning intake system, Boomba sound symposer delete, Unleashed Tuning de-cat downpipe, MBRP cat-back exhaust system, Garrett GTX2876R turbo conversion, mountune front-mount intercooler upgrade, Custom Performance Engeering exhale kit with Tial blow-off vlave, Cobb Tuning Accessport V3 with custom map by Randy at mountune, Focus ST MMT6 six-speed gearbox, Cobb Tuning short shifter.
Fifteen 52 9.5×18-inch forged two-piece Classic Evo wheels with ET42, Toyo T1 Proxes Sport 255/35R18 tyres, KW Variant 3 coilovers, ST Suspensions rear anti-roll bar brakes; fronts: Wilwood Super Lite Six 6-pot calipers with Wilwood 332mm discs, Wilwood BP10 fast road pads, stainless steel hoses; rears: Factory Focus ST rear discs and calipers with fast road pads.
Recaro Proride 2 seats with custom fitted seat heaters, mountune floor mats, mountune air freshener, Cobb Tuning AP V3 mounted on centre console.
Focus ST body in Spirit Blue, Fifteen 52 cup spoilers, Innovative Fabworx front splitter, 3P shorty antenna.
My dad (whether he likes it or not he gave me the bug!), my wife for being so supportive, Brad and Matt at Fifteen 52 for their help with the wheels, Ken and Randy at mountune USA for their support.
Words Jamie King Photos Cody Lind