Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) used a sport-compact car to display the company's latest addition to an already powerful crate engine line-up a modified Focus RS converted to rear-wheel drive and V-8 power with the introduction of the Focus RS8 at this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show.
Using the European Focus RS as a starting point, FRPP worked its engineering magic to mate its new, all-alloy, 5.0-liter 4-valve "Cammer" crate engine cranking out a pavement-pounding 420 naturally aspirated horsepower into the engine bay of the Focus. Although a handful of aftermarket firms have successfully mated Ford V-8 power with a Focus, the RS8 was built to show the versatility of a "Cammer" crate engine and "plug-and-play" engine electronics installation in a pure stock-looking Ford Focus.
The foundation of FRPPs hot new 5.0-liter "Cammer" crate engine is rooted in the Ford SVT Mustang Cobra 4.6-liter four-valve engine family. However, the crate motor's flanged cylinder liners help provide 94mm (instead of 90.2mm) cylinder bores, creating a full 5.0-liters of piston displacement. And while the motor employs the 2003-04 SVT Mustang Cobra "Terminator" forged crankshaft with six-bolt mains and Manley "H-Beam" connecting rods for superior strength, the block itself is specially reinforced in the crankcase web areas for high torque loads.
Other key differences include forged pistons, an 11.0:1 compression ratio, ported heads, higher-lift cams and beehive-shaped valve springs. The crate engine also features higher-flow fuel injectors and a
magnesium variable-geometry intake manifold, similar to the FR500 intake manifold currently offered in the 2004 FRPP catalog.
Ford Racing's new 5.0-liter "Cammer" crate engine comes with a stock SVT Mustang Cobra oil pan and exhaust manifolds, so an exhaust system employing Ford Racing prototype metal-substrate catalysts and a set of Ford Racing dual-mode mufflers was custom-fabricated to put the engine heat to the street.
One of the best parts about a Ford Racing 5.0-liter "Cammer" crate engine installation is that FRPP takes a lot of the guesswork out of the project by offering a choice of several length 5.0-liter 4-valve modular wiring harness kits that are created specifically to cover the most popular engine swap configurations. What's more, harness kits which include the powertrain control module (PCM) provide all of the necessary electrical connectors, including end terminals, a fuse box, a power distribution box, as well as switch connectors and fuel pump relays. The 5.0L EFI "Cammer" crate engine, including the wiring harness kit, will sell for a MSRP of $14,995 and will be available from the 2004 Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog.
Completing the RS8's powertrain is a Tremec five-speed HD transmission with a Ford Racing clutch kit and Ford Racing prototype shifter.
"Some sport-compact purists will likely never escape the four-cylinder mindset that keeps tuners and owners throwing bigger and bigger bucks at smaller and smaller performance gains," said Davis. "But we would like to think our 5.0-liter "Cammer" crate-engined Focus RS8 will somehow force the kind of performance paradigm shift that took enthusiasts from big traditional Muscle Cars to smaller, modern-day Pony Cars."
One look at the RS8 would suggest that its transformation from a production front-driver into a rear-drive pocket rocket was a study in simplicity. But in reality, Ford Racing engineers had their work cut out for them from the start.
Beyond fitting the drivetrain, there was the challenge of designing new suspensions front and rear. FRPP engineers put together a prototype setup inspired by Kugel Komponents up front, and a rear unit locating a Ford Racing 8.8-inch differential while offering adjustable ride height using Multimatic dampers. The newly-designed rear-wheel drive conversion kit will be sold through the FRPP catalog.
Four-wheel discs put the brakes on 18x8-inch European RS alloy wheels, wearing Michelin Pilot Sport 225/40 ZR18 tires up front and 255/45 ZR18s in the back.
"This isn't the typical sport compact modification project, but it sure will get attention out on the streets," exclaimed Davis. "With rear-wheel drive and over 400 horsepower, the Focus RS8 will make itself known at the drag strip and any road course. We're even going to take it drifting!"
Outside, the RS8 turns heads, thanks to the handsome European Focus RS styling cues and shimmering Blue Pearl Coat exterior paint treatment. Inside, the Focus RS provided the seating while Ford Racing chipped in with its Focus A-Pillar Gauge Pod and a full complement of Ford Racing Gauges. Also installed were a Harmon/Becker Traffic-Pro, a Sirius Satellite Radio system and Infinity amps and speakers just to make sure the tunes are powerful, too.