LAS VEGAS, Nev., October 30, 2000 – The new Focus FR200, like the Mustang FR500, are continuous "works in progress," according to Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology.
That is because the aftermarket performance parts market in this country is constantly evolving and Ford Racing Technology is using programs like the FR200 and FR500 to stay ahead of the trends.
"We don’t see these cars as one-off projects that we forget about right after we launch the vehicles," said Davis. "These aren’t ‘show cars’ in the traditional sense at all. The FR200, like the Mustang FR500, is a vehicle that could be driven off the show floor and driven hard on a race track right away."
The FR200 is the second in a series of ‘ultimate’ performance parts vehicles that Ford Racing Technology is planning to reveal over the next few years.
But, once the car has been revealed, the work doesn’t stop.
Take the silver Mustang FR500, unveiled at the SEMA Show in 1999. Following the show, that very same car went through a series of media drives and enthusiast shows and feedback was received from those audiences, as well as others in the aftermarket performance parts industry.
Based on that feedback, Ford Racing Technology decided which parts and systems on the FR500 would be brought to market first, and which would need further development and refinement before being brought to market.
One year later at the 2000 SEMA Show, a 1996 Ford Mustang Cobra, outfitted with cylinder heads, intake manifold, and six-speed transmission from the FR500, as well as other parts from the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog, is a primary part of the Ford Racing Technology display.
"Last year, we showed the FR500 with all its performance parts and told the world what we thought the Mustang could be. This year, we’re showing a real-world example of what those parts can do on a vehicle that someone already owns, including giving before and after performance figures."
The Focus FR200, the second vehicle in the Ford Racing Technology (FRT) performance line, is a much different challenge than the FR500.
"This project is so different because we’ve never had a line of aftermarket performance parts for the sport compact market," Davis said. "The FR200 is more like a clean sheet of paper design. It’s more engineering intensive. There’s more styling involved, and turbocharging the engine changed a lot of things in that area. It’s a much tougher project because there’s not many, if any, well-balanced, 300-horsepower, front-drive vehicles around… but that’s okay. We’re up to the task."
So, are consumers likely to see FR200 parts in the FRT catalog within one year?
"Certainly, that’s the goal … and it’s an aggressive goal," said Davis. "This is not just some engineering exercise for us. It’s much more because these are driveable cars, with driveable pieces on them that are not just created, but planned. This is way beyond a show car, because we’re looking at feasibility at the same time as we’re creating what we think the market may be interested in.
"Like the FR500, we need to judge response to the FR200 from a variety of audiences. Once that’s done, we’ll figure out what areas of the car we want to put our money into, tool the parts necessary, and offer them to the consumer. So, doing all that in one year is aggressive."
And what’s next in the line of FRT performance parts cars?
"People will have to wait for next year to see that," Davis said. "We have some more great ideas, and we’re already looking into what’s relevant and what makes sense for the marketplace."