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The "Taboo" Ford Transit Connect Performance Build

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Many of you may or may not recall that at one point I had an on going thread dealings with upgrading our 2020 Transit Connect and most of those things we covered at that times really did not have any relevance to anything "performance" till now. We've reached a point where we've started add upgrade suspension components to the van, Starting with upgrading our factory 16'' 215/55/R16 wheels and tires to 19'' 245/40/R19 wheels and tires.


We've selected these 19x8.5 Axe CS List wheels purchased from Performance Alloy out of England. The wheels came undamaged shipped my DHL and without any customs fee. using Discount Tire North America, they helped us locate the correct tires for the van. This meant for 4 months, we test drove the van with 5 different sets of tires until we located the Nokian brand.


We've been driving on these tires for 3K miles and been loving every minute of it. We driven through snow, on ice on wet and dry pavement and these tire simply will not stop due to their tread design for all times of road conditions. The Nokian G4's are some of the best tires we've even had the chance to own on any of our vehicles. Then we added a front set of the Bilstein B6 struts as our factory struts failed within two years of ownership.


In the above image, the van was still on the lift and being lowered to the ground, so the distance between the tire and fender edge is not correct. Adding the Bilstein B6 struts with the factory coil springs lowered the front end of the van by 3/4 of an inch. With the van resting on all fours, we've concluded that the front end doesn't need to be lowered any more as we're getting a slight amount of scrubbing while driving over speed humps or railroad tracks.


One can place these two fingered between the front tire and fender edge. As for the rear of the van, ones balled up fist can be placed between the tire and fender well and we're aiming to purchase a set of 40mm Cobra coils from Netherlands to lower the rear of the van. The van handles fine with this setup but we're still not done.



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Since driving the van, we've notice some slight body roll going into curves. In order to correct this, we've heard that the van could share many of the same parts from the Ford Focus RS/St as well as other Ford vehicles. In order to test this lead, we were given a chance to visit an aftermarket performance shop located in the heart of NASCAR county. Driving more than 10 hours from Maryland to North Carolina, we arrived to take a tour of their shop. Typically this shop designed sway bars for the Corvette, Camaro and Mustang. But just by chance they had a 32mm sway bar designed for the Ford Focus RS/ST. 


Placing the van on the lift and supporting all components, we dropped the Van's engine cradle. Then test fitted the 32mm sway bar. Although the sway bar mounted up in the correct location, the sway bar bends towards the two main cradle uprights would not allow for full articulation or up and down movement. We also tested the Megan Racing 28.9mm sway bar and again the same issue with the bends towards the end link connection. But a few blocks from this location was another performance shop that also invited us to their shop. They specialize in upgrading the Focus and while there, we learn that the Focus engine cradle is not designed the same as the Connect cradle.


This is the belly of a 2018 Focus. I've added red arrows to show that the Focus cradle uprights have bends or is spooned out as to allow for the sway bar. The Transit Connect doesn't have this type of spooned uprights. Instead, sharp edges on the two main upright makes it difficult to add a performance sway bar to the van.


So for the record, when someone tell you that the Focus shares parts with the Connect.. This is partly true. Parts like the control arms, ball joints etc are universal and can be swapped between several Ford Vehicles. Unfortunately, a performance Focus sway bar doesn't fit on the connect. However not all is lost.. we've bene given another lead on a possible donor Ford vehicle which uses the same designed engine cradle as the Transit Connect. 


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After learning of the disappointing news that the Focus sway bar will not work on the Connect, we get new information about another Ford vehicle which used the same engine cradle.


Image Above: 2019 Ford Transit Connect Engine Cradle


Image Above: 2019 Ford Kuga/Escape Engine Cradle

Both of these engine cradle are identical and have the same two main sharp edge uprights. We've been following a lead on a company from Taiwan who claims they've designed a 28mm sway bar that will fit the KUGA/Escape & Focus.  Hardrace out of Taiwan have a 28mm sway bar which we'll be purchasing in a few months.


The main thing in the above image is the first bend closest to the center. these bends are bent outward unlike the Focus bars which are bent inward. causing the obstruction with the two main uprights and although the Focus and KUGA sway bar are designed the same the two main bends are where the difference lay.



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Before we order the sway bar, we've decided to go ahead and order the rear coil springs from Cobra Suspension out of Netherlands. After contacting them they sent us images of a stock Transit Connect with their lowering springs.


Image Above: stock 17'' wheels with 20mm/40mm lowering springs


Image Above: 18'' OZ wheels with 20mm/40mm lowering springs

Once we get the rear set as we're not needing the front set of 20mm springs, we'll drive a few hours to a performance dealership who has a set of the factory front coil springs. Once we have the Cobra springs and factory springs, we'll ne heading back to the powder coaters where we want them to powder coat the factory front set of coils the same color as the Cobra coils.


This way the factory fronts powder coated the same as the rear Cobra coils will have the appearance that we have a full set of the Cobra coils installed on the van. Powder coating the front set will cost us 80.00 USD ea. Allowed to cure then have our performance shop swap out the black factory coils for the newly power coated orange factory coils.

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While we wait to add the hardware, we've done a few other small things to the van. We've always hated how the rear full size spare is mounted under the van. So we had Discount Tire drop the spare and cut away the cable system holding the spare in place. This left a big gap under the van which we may make a few changes to the exhaust system later.


After removing the full size spare, we need to locate another replacement. using a site called RoadKillCustoms (no relation to the show) we located a chart which goes into detail about other wheels with the same bolt pattern and center bore as the Connect. We concluded that the 17'' 2005 Ford Thunderbird balloon spare was the perfect spare tire for us. But we had to create a new way to carry and store this spare inside the van.


Instead we purchased a spare tire mount from an off road retailer and designed an area on the passenger side of the van to mount this bracket. This meant having to remove the plastic panel from the cargo area and cutting out a hole as to allow the bracket to poke through. we had the shop cut the hole while the wife and I mounted the bracket.


The red block shows where we mounted the spare tire bracket. The end result..



Our only regret.. Our first powder coater did not powder coat the wheel the correct color, so we're out to have the spare tire removed then have our new powder coater coat the wheel the correct color. Plus later, we'll be adding a diamond tucked carbon fiber spare tire cover.


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Speaking of Diamond Tucked Carbon Fiber, we just complete adding this material to the panel blanks located in the rear of the van. 2 large sliding door panels, 2 medium rear door and 2 small rear door panels.


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A vendor on amazon claiming to be with Zeder Corp owners of Whiteline & Super-Pro out of Australia, wanted to take part in our build. So they sent us the whiteline 28mm-30mm lateral locks & 300mm-345mm super-pro end links.



Although these end links were designed for a Volvo, the Connect end links are within the same measurement range as these end links. So they should work perfectly without any major adjustments. Projected appearance after the super-pro end links and 28mm sway bar has been installed.



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Throughout this build the van hasn't been without it's flaws.

➤ After only 2 years of driving the front struts gave out. According to our shop, the tech tells  and shows me that the struts where simply resting and relying on the coil springs as the struts had zero articulation. We ended up having to get a set of the Bilstein B6 struts sooner than expected.


➤ Then while working on the struts, we opted to try a set of the Duralast end links. These end links are heavy duty with grease ball joints. But that was a mistake also. The Duralast, Moog & Mevotech end links cause damage to our van inner fire wall.


In this image, the end links were too large and caused deep gashes on the inner firewall and chases frame. At one point, the drivers side end link because lodge between the coil spring and firewall. So avoid Duralast, Moog & Mevotech heavy duty end links on the Connect or risk the same issues we had.

➤ The van's windshield seems to be prone to cracking.. Twice within 4 months we've had to replace our windshield due to cracking. The first time, Safelite replaced the factory clear with an aftermarket tinted glass. we because use to and enjoyed the tinted glass only to have it crack also. The second time, another installer reverted back to the factory glass and we hate it. But there's nothing we can do about it. We should have been more aware as to what glass was being installed and requested that they replace it with the same tinted glass Safelite installed.

➤ Then we learn that there was a missing drain plug located at the rear of the van. Without this drain plug exhaust fumes was entering the van and at the time we thought it might have been oil burning off the engines as we noticed this smell soon after having an oil change. We've since replaced the plug.

➤ Above I spoke about the 5 sets of tires we went through. The issue with those tires, is that they all had one thing in common. Weak sidewalls. What ended up happening is that while entering into curves the tires would flex or over flex under or over the wheel's edge. This made for very dangerous driving. In the image below, I've placed an arrow where these tires would become unstable and over flex. I contacted the tire's manufacture and they claim they've add more flex to tires in order to give consumers better gas mileage..


Although we liked the first set of Nokian "one" tires they too flexed too much. But we were willing to give Nokian another chance. This time selecting the Nokian G4 tires with Kevlar. If these Kevlar reinforce tires didn't work our last option was to purchase a set of runflats. So far, we've been pleased with these Nokian G4's.

➤ Then there's the issue with trying to get information from vendors about particular products for the van. They've all considered the van to be Taboo. It's unheard of here in the states for a stock utility van to become a performance vehicle and although we haven't done anything to the engine other than add a K&N air filter and the NGK sprak plugs, most of what we're focusing on is the suspension.

➤ With the on again off again tires on the Axe wheels.. we've damaged the Axe center caps and we've not been able to locate them. Axe themselves isn't able to locate them either. So we've been driving the wheels without center caps.


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Two other thigs that needed to be corrected of fixed with the van over these last few years. We wanted to upgrade the stock low beam bulbs to the Sylvania H11 bulbs. But each time we did this (taking the precautions) the bulbs would burn out within a few weeks. Checking the connections at the wiring harness shows that the bulbs would burn out at the connectors and not the bulbs filament. it's costed us 100.00+ to replace 2 sets of these bulbs. This time we've better prepared because Summit Racing has a sale on the Hella H11 bulbs. so we made sure we purchased a few of these as we're going to keep these in the van at all times just in case.

Another thing that we hated about the van but have learn to deal with it over the years is the seats.. or better yet the seats angle. Because of how the seat tilted back, this cause pinch point along our spine and hips. We correct this with the use of 50mm skateboard wheels.


We ended up cutting 4 wheels in half just in case 50mm wasn't enough. One would place these wheels under the rear of the seat located at the frame rail. This means having to also replace the factory bolt with a longer bolt as to allow for the skateboard wheels. This has to be one of the best things we've done to the van. changing the angle of the seat helped reduce any lower back and hip pain and we can drive father and longer because we're more comfortable.


Searching online we discovered others creating nearly the same set up but used longer bolts. We took their suggestions, but found these bolt we purchased are too long for what we needed them for. Using (1) 50mm skateboard wheel under the frame rail and (1) half wheel as a spacer or washer until we can purchase the correct bolt for this application.

So if your seat's angle is too steep in the wrong direction. remove the rear bolts and loosen the front bolts that tie down your seat, lift or push the seat forward just enough to slide 2 50mm skateboard wheels (1 per side) under the frame rails then use the correct length bolt to tie all down to the floor once again. This little modification has made a world of difference in our comfort.

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It's official, we'll be ordering the Cobra Suspension 40mm lowering springs either today or beginning of next week.  One thing we had to clarify is how the coil springs are to be shipped. According to Cobra Suspension, he says they will ship FEDEX. I was concerned with how any products are shipped to us as UPS & FEDEX will not deliver to our address. So we'll have to use the shops address to have the coils shipped to us. The coils should arrive in a few weeks.



Once we have the rear set, we'll head over to the Ford dealership and pick up a new set of the factory front springs. With both sets in head we'll then head over to our powder coaters and have them powder coat the factory "black" springs the same color as the orange Cobra springs.

So far the total for just the rear springs is $239.00 USD (shipped) While the factory front springs direct from Ford will cost us $73.00 USD ea. But we'll drive to the dealership for those.


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This just in:

After months of waiting, ZunSport finally completed the creation of a black mesh grille overlay for the 2019-2022 (facelift) Transit Connect.


This image direct from ZunSport shows they create an upper and lower mesh grille overlay for the 2020 Connect.

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Today's Update,

I was so excited to have finally had a chance to get those 19'' wheels w/245/40/R19 tires on the van I over looked one small flaw.. Our on board floor jack would not lift the van up height enough as to allow one to rotate, change or clean the wheels/tires. Not that we had an issue with the van today or in the past. it's good to know that if we wanted to do these types of things ourselves we could. But now knowing the jack would not lift the van high enough off the ground, I had to do something and fast.

It got to the point were I was about ready to order a 4 ton floor jack and keep it in the van. But with it being so much bigger than our 2 1/2 ton jack I had no where to store it. it wasn't looking good.. plus with the 4 ton being bigger and heavier I just couldn't lift the jack out form the belly of the van myself.

I found a solution. Using one of the 5 lbs. metal barbell with stop sign shaped weights, I'm able to place the barbell under the front (larger) wheels to the jack. This added lift allows the jack to lift the van up more without over extending the jacks support arm. Although some might say this is unsafe, I lifted the van up form the pinch points and left the van lifted for 3 hours. The front wheel was off the ground approx. 1 1/2 inch. I just saved us near $400.00+ USD on the purchase of a larger floor jack that wouldn't fit in the van and was too heavy for me to lift out of the van.

Now I can stop worrying about "what if" there's a flat tire and get back to waiting for the rear 40mm coil springs to arrive.

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Just registered with Ford Performance site as they are searching for new Ford owner clubs. If our club is accepted, this would be the first worldwide Ford Transit Connect club listed on the Ford Performance registry. So If you drive a Modified or Performance Transit Connect, Here's your chance to join a Performance Connect-ion Club registry.

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This Just In:

According to Seabourne Logistics (UK Shipping Firm), Said that they picked up the package and it's now headed to a distribution facility then be logged and then head for the states. Still no word as to what North American shipper will handle this. Can not wait for these to arrive. Once they're here, We'll take a day trip to Waldorf Maryland Approx. 3 hours away to a Ford Performance dealership who happens to have a set of the factory front coils in stock. These are new coils and not some junk from the salvage yard. Once we have all the coils, it's another drive to our powder coaters. Then see if they can match the color of the Cobra Coils. Once the powder coater has the color lined up, we may opt to have just the rear coil springs installed instead of doing all four coils at once. This way the van isn't in the shop the entire weekend..


Here's whats going to happen. Once the new front set of coils have been powder coated to color match the new Cobra coils.. the shop will drop the front struts again, remove the factory black coil and install the newly powder coated color matching front coil springs. I suspect that while the front struts are out, I'll have the tech mount the new Super-pro 300mm-345mm Volvo end links onto the van. Just to be ready when we purchase the new performance 28mm sway bar in a few more weeks.

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Last year, emailed Velossa Tech in the hopes of getting them motivated to create a snorkel for the 2020 Connect. Although they said they will work on it, Checking the site shows that nothing has been done yet.


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With the uncertainty that the Cobra coils will fit our North American van, Jeffery via Cobra suspension has admitted that if these coils do not fit (98% sure they will) he and Cobra suspension will manufacture a set of lowering springs just for the American market. Knowing this, we may opt to install or try to installed the rear coil springs first before handing them off to the powder coaters. This way we make sure they fit before bying anything else.

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Lets put this in perspective. Moments ago I get a message from UPS saying the Package is out for delivery. Mind you I ordered the coils springs last Fri, waited two days (over the weekend) hoping these would ship Monday but didn't then I get word that they shipped Tue without any indication if these coils went through customs and now they're about to be delivered to our shop address. Even though the springs were on sale for $99.00 USD, check the site often as I've seen them as low as $80.00 USD. But be warned, if you're looking to ship overseas, shipping will cost you $140.00 USD But you get what you paid for. This is one of the fastest shippers in the business. Not long now, then we'll set up an appointment to have these new 40mm lowering springs installed on the van. Fingers cross they fit and lower the van to a suitable height.


For the record, I've been posting the wrong picture of the rear coil springs as the early picutees of the springs are for the front of the van. This current above image is the correct coil springs for the rear of the van. I've yet to learn what the recoil rate is on these springs. Plus I've been given a list of possible Bilstein B6 shock options.

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Just got back from a short trip to the shop and the coil springs was there. Open the box and to my surprise, the coils are not orange but red. Now to schedule a time to get these installed.. this should happen within the next few weeks if not sooner.


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Contacted Zunsport yesterday congratulating them on the creation of the black mesh screens for the facelift connect. But I also contacted them to see if they could create something else for us. We've removed the blank plugs located over the fog light molding on the front bumper. We're doing this to create an air venting system to cool the front brakes. But we're not willing to leave these holes wide open just to have things sucked in and damaging the brakes.


In this image, it show that this connect has the use of fog lights tucked into the small holes on both sides of the front bumper. We're going to place larger fog lights behind the front lower grille leaving these smaller hole for the brake cooling system. Once a member of the SCCA, we noticed that several racers would use what's called duck feet vacuum attachments as angled vents to direct air flow into and around the brake system. With just a few other smaller items one can create an inexpensive air cooling system to any vehicle.



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