The cars we loved.
Back in 1984 when Shelby tinkered with the Dodge Omini, a new breed of pocket rocket was born. Created as much out of economic necessity as availability, the concept of the pocket rocket taken to the next level proved to be a potent formula for cheap performance. Today sub compacts with near 90’s super car performance are not so unusual, but the last time Shelby tuned a small car was in 1989 with the CSX. Since that time, factory pocket rockets have caught up and surpassed Shelby products like the GLHS and the Carol Shelby Experimental (CSX) series.
Shelby had been working its way down the Mustang ladder to the point of offering a version of the V6 car in 2012 that stressed looks and handling over pure muscle. Now it’s moved further down the chain to introduce a version of the Ford Focus. Starting with the already capable 2013 ST, the Shelby Focus would add a host of performance upgrades design to improve the Focus handling and while bringing its looks to true boy racer status. If you were not a fan of the standard Focus ST, the Shelby editions race stripes and blackout wheels are not likely to win you over.
In a testament to the well evolved design of the Focus, the Shelby cars don’t add any extraneous aero enhancements as they might have done on some Mustangs. Depending on what graphic package you select, your Focus can look like a ridiculous road going race car (competition) or take a slightly more subtle approach with Shelby’s classic stripe look (traditional) or the most subtle (checkered) that looks similar to graphics Ford offers for the doors of all Focus models. To dispel any confusion for normal Ford factory offerings, Shelby install a prominent plaque in the interior of all of its cars to certify authenticity.
Shelby started with the STs 252 hp Eco-Boost 2.2 liter and managed to squeeze 28 more horsepower out of it for a total 280. The deeper rumble coming from the pipes is curtsy of a performance Borla exhaust. Other engine treatments were purely aesthetic, like an engine dressing kit that added Shelby covers and polished surfaces. Handling, where most of the tuning efforts went includes a Ford racing suspension, Wilwood brakes and 18 in wheels.
The changes are even less dramatic inside, depending on what seats were chosen on the initial ST. The premium interior package added badges and Shelby” stitched into the headrest area of the leather seats. All in all the package adds nearly $15k to the $30k or so cost of a donor ST. Oddly enough when the conversion is done, Shelby reserves the right to keep the replaced components.
The Shelby name has collect-ability cache among hard-core auto enthusiasts, many of who may not have an issue with the price premium to get its latest product. With production set to just 500 cars per year, each copy will likely be accounted for. For those who are not collectors or Shelby fans, they might be asking themselves if it’s worth it.
The numbers don’t lie. The 0 to 60 time of 6.5 seconds is only marginally quicker than the standard ST. The racing suspension raises the Focus corning limits before the tail slides out. Its ride is stiffer also. Despite all the modifications, there is little in the way of a weight penalty, as the Shelby Focus ends up weighing only slightly more than the standard ST.
Like other entry level Shelby products of late, the Focus enhancements can be bought piece by piece or in packages. This allows Shelby to claim EPA figures as high as 32 MPG highway when the standard ST engine is left stock if the customer opts for suspension and appearance upgrades. The Shelby Focus ST is a far more refined car than any of Shelby’s previous compact efforts, but at nearly $40k, it might be a bargain for Shelby aficionados only.