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2002 Ford Focus ZX3 - Streetcar

A Muscle-Car Man Builds A Turbocharged Focus That Runs 13.1 At 113 MPH

By Dan Passe

On the rear window of the lowered Toyota, Calvin relieves himself on a Honda "H." At the next stoplight, Calvin reappears on a Camaro, this time giving the Bue Oval a golden shower. Yes folks, these are brand-loyal times.

Tom Lesperance, owner of Precision Engines and Dyno Service in North Belmont, N.C., doesn't believe in any of that brand-loyal bullshit. "In my 33 years of hot-rodding, I've learned that if I'm only a Ford, Chevy or Honda guy, I'd miss too much good technology and horsepower," he says. "Let's face it, flow is flow and power is power."

That mantra is how Lesperance lives and works. His shop builds and tunes everything from Nissan four cylinders to blown alcohol boat engines and his personal fleet includes a '68 Cuda, '63 Corvette and a pair of SVO Mustangs. Tom still finds his musclecars fun, but his shop was starting to fill up with those new-fangled rides. Tom knew he needed to build a car that would take on the hottest front-drive street cars. He also needed a daily driver that wouldn't get eight gallons per mile

At first Tom looked for a Honda. Then his friend Earl Tindol of Earl Tindol Ford in Gastonia, N.C. brought by the first Focus ZX3 in the neighborhood, and Tom fell in love. He bought one and immediately dismantled the engine.

Stock 130 hp engines are very nice for normal people, but like most of us, Tom is far from normal. He also had to make sure the Focus would be a fitting advertisement for Precision's small-car capabilities. The Precision-built turbo engine remains a 2.0-liter ZETEC, but was rebuilt with 8.6:1 compression Wiseco pistons, JE rings, Crower billet rods, ARP rod bolts, head and main studs, Esslinger billet main caps and a full balance job. The head was ported and Crower springs and titanium retainers were employed to keep the air/fuel mix in and the exhaust out. Focus Central adjustable cam gears keep the stock cams timed correctly. That's right, stock cams. Tom swears they're perfect for his high-boost application, as long as they're timed properly. The forced air charge is supplied through a Pro-M 70mm ported mass air unit feeding an intercooled Turbonetics turbo and a Ford Racing aluminum intake manifold. He warns that the intake is not a direct replacement, so be prepared to do some massaging if you're going to perform the same mods.

Fueling is handled by a Ford Racing 500 lph fuel pump, which pressurizes the fuel on the way to 96 lb/hr injectors controlled with a low impedance driver. Spent fumes exit through a custom turbo exhaust manifold and a full 3-inch exhaust system done by A1 Muffler in Belmont, N.C.

Controlling the engine is no easy feat, but Tom assures us that no other Focus has ever had so much performance with a stock computer. Though there's a proliferation of engine control computers in the marketplace today, Tom chose to stick with a stock one.

He did, however, add a chip, but not a normal chip. Mike Wilson of Chip Guy Chips programmed it especially for the Focus. It features four different settings that are changeable while the chip is still in the ECU, allowing quick and easy engine tuning.

A GReddy PRofec B-spec boost controller and GReddy wireless remote switching system provide boost control. Tom finds it very handy to change boost levels with that little yellow button on the steering wheel, depending on what kind of gas he uses. Normally he runs the car on 100-octane pump gas, available at four gas stations within 10 miles of his shop, but sometimes he has to make do with lower boost on 93. After extensive time on the Precision Engine Dynojet and on 100-octane fuel, he claims the engine cranks out 326 hp and 328 lb-ft of torque at the front wheels.

By Dan Passe
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