Ford Focus RS MK1 Buyer’s Guide
By James Mosley – www.fordownersclub.com
Engine: Ford 2.0 Litre Duratec RS 4 Cylinder 16 Valve Turbo
Power: 215 ps (212 bhp)
Torque: 310 nm (229 Ib-ft)
0 - 60 mph: 6.4 Seconds
Top Speed: 144 mph
Launched in 2002, the limited edition Focus RS MK1 is no doubt the ultimate MK1 Focus. Limited to a production run of 4501 cars it was made up of 70% new or upgraded parts. This attention to detail famously meant that Ford lost around £4000 on each example they sold. The RS is only available in Imperial Blue metallic and there were no options available on the car. It came with a 2.0 turbocharged petrol engine that produces a healthy 212 horsepower and 229 Ib-ft of torque. Its interior was unique in that it had exclusive blue and black Sparco seats. It also had Sparco pedals, an engine start button, a turbo boost gauge, and they were all individually numbered, meaning that it felt every inch a special car and is sure to be a future classic.
Buying one of these rare machines can be a little bit of a minefield when it comes to searching the classifieds. They all look the same, but are they? You will see talk of phase 2 examples and a huge amount of these cars have now been modified, which may put some buyers off.
So what should I look for?
With no choice of colour and no choice of spec, buying a MK1 Focus RS should be easy right? Well, sort of but not exactly. Some people get hung up on looking for a later ‘phase 2’ examples that include some minor modifications.
These modifications include a pink grommet on the throttle cable (said to reduce throttle pedal vibration at high speed):
Extra stitching on the front seat bases to prevent sagging:
An engine start sticker around the start button:
Later cars also had a different engine map to revise cold start issues. However, the later map was not perfect either and was known to have a misfire issue at around 5000 rpm.
Some cars also had the dimming headlight switch to allow the dash lights to dim (these can easily added to your car by purchasing one from eBay):
Some cars also had plastic covers over the rear seat hinges and others did not. Just another small detail.
So is it worth holding out for a ‘phase 2’ example? While it’s nice to have the revisions, many of these can be added at a later date for a sensible cost. If you can find the perfect example in every other way and it is not a ‘phase 2’ then you really shouldn’t worry too much about it.
Faults to watch out for:
Check the water pipe that is hidden behind the right hand front wheel arch. It is common for this to rust through but it is fairly cheap and easy to replace.
Check for any blue smoke from the exhaust as this can be turbo oil seals and can cost several hundred pounds for a repair.
Make sure you are happy with the overall condition of the car as RS specific parts can be very hard and costly to source, especially things like the front bumper and the front wings, due to the low volumes that the car was produced in.
Check that there is water pumping into the charge cooler. If this is not the case then it could need expensive repairs.
Check the usual MK1 Focus areas for rust. The rear arches are a common place where the liner holds water/moisture and causes the arches to begin to rust.
Check below the door mirrors as the plastic can rub against the bodywork causing rust.
Check for damp in the passenger foot well. This is another general MK1 Focus common fault where the pollen filter can be incorrectly fitted and cause water to leak through.
Coolant leaks can be common, particularly from the thermostat housing, so look for any pink residue in that area.
Make sure the car you are looking at includes the original Ford RS mats and leather document wallet. These only came with the original cars and are not available to buy from Ford so can command a bit of a premium on the second hand market.
Interiors can suffer from quite a lot of wear, particularly on the Alcantara inserts. Like most of the other RS specific parts, good-condition interiors fetch quite a premium on the used market. Also, they can be fitted to any MK1 Focus so you will tend to find people fit them in lower spec models as upgrades.