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2002 Ford Focus V-8 

by Kugel Komponents 


Review

Performance Data

Stephen G. Dye

    

If you're an avid reader of Common Driver, you're well aware of the fact that we're quite fond of the Ford Focus. We've road tested nearly every model currently available in Ford showrooms, including the hot new SVT. Since it's introduction, the Focus has impressed us with its German-like ride quality, refinement, steering feel, and general performance. Even the base model is reasonably fun to drive. Surely, the task of designing such a charming demeanor into the Focus wasn't easy for Ford engineers, particularly when you consider the downright affordability of this car. Now, imagine all those positive characteristics combined with over 300 horsepower driving the rear wheels. Do I have your attention yet?

 

    

    

 

Last April, while attending the 2002 SEMA-sponsored International Auto Salon in Long Beach, CA, Common Driver staffers interviewed Jerry Kugel. Jerry owns Kugel Komponents of La Habra, CA, a company that until now, dealt mainly with classic hot rods and customs. Ironically, Jerry's widespread experience with the classic hot rod scene enabled him to engineer and develop a kit that may interest folks in the hot import realm. And make no mistake; this Focus V-8 conversion kit isn't a half-assed, backyard-garage attempt at dropping a Mustang powerplant into a compact car. It's much more than that, evidenced by the fact that this setup won the Best Engineered New Product Award at the 2002 SEMA show in Las Vegas.

The Kugel Komponents kit includes everything you need to transform any Focus body style into a genuine street sleeper. Some of the custom pieces include modified suspension crossmembers, engine-mounting cradle with frame supports, modified spindles, engine and transmission mounts, 8.8-inch solid rear axle coil-over shocks, and everything else needed to install a complete Mustang drivetrain underneath the factory stock Focus body. Jerry's kit even allows enough clearance for the original hood to remain in place.

  

    

    

    

  

The kit is designed to utilize a carbureted or electronic fuel injected 5.0-liter Ford engine, a stock-type Mustang 5-speed manual transmission (T-5), and the sturdy 8.8-inch rear axle, which is typically fitted with 2.73, 3.08, 3.27, 3.55, 3.73 or 4.10 gear ratios. (Hint: We recommend 3.55 or numerically lower to save money on rear tires.) If you don't have a donor Mustang on hand, Jerry can provide a brand new Ford Racing GT40 engine, a Super Duty transmission and the rear end. If you have a MIG welder and the proper skills, you can perform the installation yourself, or you can pay around $2500 for the wizards at Kugel Komponents to do the work for you. Considering the affordability and availability of used Ford 5.0-liter engines and T-5 transmissions, building a turnkey car may cost less than you might think.

After seeing two of Jerry's prototype cars (We saw the first car in Las Vegas last fall.), we believe that the build quality of this conversion kit is excellent. To our surprise, there is a very impressive amount of working space inside the engine bay. The V-8 takes up far less room than we had estimated, and access to the spark plugs and exhaust headers is a snap.

  

    

    

   

Currently under development, Kugel Komponents is building a conversion package for the 4-valve DOHC V-8 found in '96 and newer Mustang Cobras. (Yes, the wider 4.6-liter engine fits as well.) The *DOHC kit will accommodate either a manual 6-speed or the 5-speed transmission. Mildly modified versions of this engine are routinely developing 400-hp or much more in the Mustang scene, so imagine how well the smaller, lighter Focus will accelerate with such an engine.

Jerry claims that his V-8 Focus has better weight distribution than the stock 4-cylinder car. If that's the case, the Focus could retain its handling competency and be fun to drive in the twisties as well as the drag strip. We'll have to wait for an actual road test to find out. Unfortunately for us, Jerry informed us that Road & Track already has first dibs. I wonder who's paying for the tires.

* Photo of 4.6-liter DOHC engine courtesy of Kugel Komponents. 

   

      

 

Performance Data:

  

Specifications:

Drivetrain Layout:........................................ Engine Type:.................................................
Displacement:
............................................... Horsepower:..................................................
Torque:..........................................................
Transmission type:........................................
Tire size:........................................................
Airbags:.........................................................
Special Features............................................
Front engine, RWD (Yes, RWD.)
V-8, OHV, 16-V (DOHC 4.6-liter opt.)
302 ci, 4942 cc (5.0-liter)
225-320+ 
300+ 
5-speed manual (6-speed manual opt.) 
P215/40ZR/17 Toyo Proxes T1-S 
Dual front
Love it or hate it, it's gonna be fun. 
 

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