txGarage Exclusive: 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 Pro Touring V8 Power

by Adam Moore
2003 Ford Focus ZX3 Pro Touring V8 - RWD

2003 Ford Focus ZX3 Pro Touring V8 - RWD

There is always something to say about having a rare car. When you’re driving along in a car you’ve spent a lot of money on, you do not want everyone else on the block driving the same thing. But there are two different types of rare cars: those you spend an enormous amount of money on and those you put a lot of effort into making rare. Today we are focusing on the latter.

You might see a Ford Focus driving in your neighborhood, and heck you might even see a 2003 Focus ZX3, but it only takes a few seconds to realize that there is something special about this car. Taking a quick look at this Focus, it doesn’t really pop out at you at first. You might be thinking, yeah I’ve seen a Focus with nice wheels before. Wait what’s that heat extractor in the hood and what bumpers are those? The answers to your questions would firstly be, yes. Neatly fitted to the hood of this Focus is a heat extractor from a 2011 GT500 Mustang. The front and rear bumpers are Ford parts from Europe. The front and rear bumpers are fitted with custom stainless steel mesh grilles. Hella fog lights are fitted nicely into the front and a shorty billet aluminum radio antennae sits atop the roof. This is no aftermarket body-kit glued onto a rice mobile, these are Ford parts and fitted with care and passion. It really is almost easy to look right over this car thinking it’s a stock body.

2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car

Inside is more of the same. Mostly stock looks with some tasteful add-ons. The first and most noticeable of these is the A-pillar gauge pod and Autometer Phantom custom gauges behind the wheel. The stock Blaupunkt CD player rests in the dash, but the speakers have been replaced in favor of some with a little more quality. The windows have been swapped from manual to power, keyless entry has been added on, and cruise control has been added as well for easy highway driving. There are a few extra little buttons, but we’ll get to those later. Other than that, it’s pretty stock and a pretty solid ride.

So what makes this Focus so special? Is it more than a few custom parts here and there? Well yes, it is. Start this bad boy up or pull up next to someone at a light and they’ll instantly know this is no ordinary Focus. The rumbling from the engine and exhaust are unmistakable. Laying under this hood is a Ford Motorsports Sportman 5.0 block. Yes, that’s a big V8, pushing 450 horsepower stuffed into this little car. The engine has been well taken care of with forged pistons and a forged steel crank. We also have AFR 185 aluminum heads, Scorpion roller rockers, and a custom grind cam to round it all out. Up top we have a Edelbrock Victor JV intake manifold converted to EFI to help this thing breath and consume some fuel.

2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car

This 5.0 engine is hooked up to a 4R70W custom built overdrive automatic transmission with Buammator stand alone computer control. All of this sends power to the rear wheels through its 8.8 Ford differential with 3:55 gears. That’s right, a rear-wheel-drive Focus, powered by an amazing V8 powerplant.

Translate all of this into driving and it’s more mental than anything else. Here at txGarage, we’ve driven plenty of muscle cars and performance cars, but to have all this power is such a light and unexpected car is mental. Start this car up and immediately tingling sensations begin to run up your legs and down your arms. Look down to the shifter and you’ll see a small switch. This flips the transmission computer from mental everyday driving into insane race mode. Better leave if in mental for now. Shift down to drive and tap the throttle with your big toe and receive a jolt and slide from the rear-end. From a standstill, this Focus really makes it easy to break the rear wheels loose, but we’re merging onto the street so lets keep that in check. Heading in a strait line again I smashed the throttle once again propelling me to the roads speed-limit of 60 mph before I could even try and enjoy the sensation. This is one fast ride.

It’s not all about speed though. The builder of this ride paid as much attention to ride and handling as he did to the massive engine. Sway bars, control arms, adjustable caster camber plates, adjustable coil over struts, lowered, triangulated, polyurethane bushings, and 4 link are all words that came out of his mouth while we took a tour underneath this Focus. What it translates to is ride comfort and handling in the turns. Adding to the grip and handling are the racing tires mounted to the 18 inch wheels. The rear tires on this Focus are 9.5 inches wide; now that’s some grip!

2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car

When you have all this power and handling in a ride you never want to forget about stopping power. Luckily for us this Focus had plenty of it. The front brakes are a big break conversion kit for the Focus SVT with EBC slotted disc rotors and ceramic pads. In the rear, the discs are pulled from a V8 Explorer also slotted with ceramic pads and custom stainless steel braided brake lines. Let’s just say these come in handy when you’re coming into a turn a little faster than expected – which you inevitably will with this car.

To sum it all up, I’d have to say that this is one of the best conversions I’ve ever seen. It’s not every day that you see a six-figured supercar and it’ll be an even more rare occurrence to see something else like this driving down the road. This Focus delivers amazing performance in a stealth package that really is feasible for everyday driving. If you’re looking for a car that you can have fun in, show off to your buddies, and still use every day and get 20 mpg, this is a ton of fun.

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2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car2003 Ford Focus V8 Project Car