Looking for old school inspiration in a modern package

The Specialty Equipment Market Association, better known as the acronym SEMA, was founded in 1963 by a laundry list of big names in the world of custom autos, including Dean Moon and Vic Edelbrock, Jr. These days, the scene looks a little different, with laptops replacing carburetor tuning, and drifters joining the drag racers. The Blue Oval hatchback you see before you attempts to blend a little bit of the old with the new, pairing “traditional hot rodding and modern tuning to reflect the ultimate in vehicle personalization.” Half a century ago, the founding fathers of SEMA would probably never have imagined what the scene has evolved into today, but the soul of it all remains the same – go fast, look good, express yourself on four wheels.

Taking responsibility for this build is Blood & Grease, a clothing and design company with a penchant for the hot rodding lifestyle. Working alongside the custom shop Vaccar Automotive Artistry, the B&G Ford started life as a 2016 Focus ST model. It’s an interesting starting point, considering the recent release of the Ford Focus RS, but the B&G ST follows through, adding a custom overhaul to the exterior and interior, while simultaneously tuning the go-fast bits to make more speed.

According to the builder, the end result is a “street-ready racer,” but how does it stack up against all the other SEMA-bound autos? Read on to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Focus ST by Blood & Grease.

Exterior

2016 Ford Focus ST by Blood & Grease Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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The first thing to catch your eye will probably be the color. Taking a cue from the classic hot rods of yesteryear, the B&G Focus ST gets a matte paint finish from BASF, using a custom R-M hue appropriately dubbed “Hot Rod Black.” Spraying it across the body panels was Canfield Collision & Custom.

That said, this is SEMA, and stock is a dirty word around these parts. I would have preferred to see a custom body kit.

If the lines and shape of this thing look familiar, it’s because the build utilizes the factory stock body kit. Now, don’t get me wrong – the Focus ST looks great right out of the box. It’s aggressive but not overly flamboyant, finding a nice balance between showiness and sleekness. The ground effects look like they belong with the rest of the body.

That said, this is SEMA, and stock is a dirty word around these parts. I would have preferred to see a custom body kit.

Thankfully, the B&G build makes up for it with some retro-style graphics fixed to the flanks. Produced by Baked Goods Creative, the graphics show a skeletal hand gripping a wrench, surrounded by the “Blood & Grease DIY Garage” logo. The text and image are in greyish white, offsetting the flat black body.

And while I would have preferred something a little more custom for the body kit, the simplistic styling does manage to pay dividends for the split five-spoke wheels. These rollers come from Konig, which provides its flow formed Interform wheel design, measuring in at 19 inches in diameter and 8.5 inches in width. The finish is an almost translucent red with a dark machined lip, and it looks fantastic against the flat-black background. Keeping the wheels in place are forged aluminum lug nuts from VMS Racing.

Final touches include Diode Dynamics multicolor HD halos, which add a red, “possessed” look to the headlights, plus brushed SS exhaust tips.

Interior

We haven’t seen exactly what the B&G Focus build looks like inside, but based on the parts list, it sounds like it gets all the typical show car trappings.

2015 Ford Focus ST High Resolution Interior
- image 557822

Note: Standard Ford Focus ST interior shown here.

Probably the most interesting feature in the cabin is the new steering wheel. Produced as a collaborative effort between Blood & Grease and wheel manufacturer GripRoyal, the limited-edition wheel is said to offer a brushed metal glean.

Probably the most interesting feature in the cabin is the new steering wheel. Produced as a collaborative effort between Blood & Grease and wheel manufacturer GripRoyal, the limited-edition wheel is said to offer a brushed metal glean. I’d be interested to see what it looks like, and I’m curious if it’ll actually get sold to the public.

Next up is a healthy amount custom leather work, which presumably covers every possible surface with soft-touch goodness. The bespoke upholstery job comes from Katzkin, with “Cardinal” leather matched with “Raven” suede, following through with the red and black theme on display on the exterior.

Finally, no modern street rod would be complete without a little extra tunes. Stepping up to the plate in this department is a Kicker L7 QB8 loaded enclosure subwoofer, which gets juiced by a KX 440.1 amplifier.

Hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of the final product when it drops cover at SEMA – I’m curious to see what the new upholstery does for the cabin, and I wanna see how that sub is integrated as well.

Drivetrain

Fancy graphics and subwoofers aside, any hot rod worth its wrench time deserves a solid dose of go under the hood. To that end, the B&G Focus gets a slew of performance parts, one-off fabrication, and custom tuning, all courtesy of Vaccar’s Master Garage. The end result is something aimed at turning the Focus from “EcoBoost to EcoBeast.”

Of course, if this thing were to go full hot rod, it would need a V-8 swap with a ginormous blower sticking out the hood. As is though, it’s a nice tuned-up four-banger with a little extra oomph where it counts.

The baseline is an all-aluminum 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine. From the factory, this powerplant produces 252 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm. Routing the power to the front axle is a six-speed manual transmission.

To help uncork the 2.0-liter, JMS Chip and Performance was enlisted for its BoostMax and PedalMax plug-and-play ECU reflash. These units basically unlock any extra power that Ford left on the table, providing a meatier torque curve, greater high-end power, and more immediate throttle response. To make sure it was all working to maximum effect, the B&G Focus also got a custom tune.

Helping to encourage the airflow into the engine is a Mishimoto performance intake, while a Flowmaster American Thunder exhaust routes spent gasses in a pleasingly high-decibel fashion.

Mishimoto also added its oil cooler kit, while a J-Line intercooler shows its teeth behind the lower grille in the front bumper, complete with new couplers and clamps. Finally, VMS Racing once again steps in with a new dual chamber catch can and oil cap.

Of course, if this thing were to go full hot rod, it would need a V-8 swap with a ginormous blower sticking out the hood. As is though, it’s a nice tuned-up four-banger with a little extra oomph where it counts.

Chassis And Handling

Most hot rods aren’t very good at turning – point ‘em down a drag strip, and they’re brilliant, but try and tackle a corner, and there could be trouble.

Thankfully, the B&G Focus leans towards modern tuning when it comes to turning. The nippy FWD platform benefits from BC Racing’s DR Series coilovers. These units offer a mono-tube shock design, and they get height adjustability dialed in through the shock body. They also get 30 levels of damping adjustment, and the option to add camber plates.

The last bits are Continental’s ExtremeContact DW tires, measuring in at 235/35R19. Designed for high-performance sports car applications, the DW stands for Dry and Wet, which means this hatch will still be going strong when the roads get a little rain.

Conclusion

2016 Ford Focus ST by Blood & Grease Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Overall, I really like the theme this thing is going for. Matching old custom with new custom is the right move for a place like SEMA, and I think a Focus hatchback is a great platform to start on.

That said, I think B&G could have gone a little further. There’s so much room to explore when calling on over half a century of hot rodding tradition, and really, the only nod to the past that I see is the flat black paint. The rest of it is pure tuner scene, from the plug-and-play four-banger, to the leather upholstery and subwoofer.

Where’s the extra fabrication? What about a roof chop with white wall tires? How about ludicrous side pipes or something else to help it stand out from the crowd?

Long story short, this thing is a nice build, but it’s not quite as extreme as I would have liked. It’s just a little too basic, and at a place like SEMA, that’s not gonna turn too many heads.

  • Leave it
    • * Doesn’t capitalize on the theme as much as it could
    • * A little too basic for its own good

Press Release

This Focus ST concept blends the spirit of traditional hot rodding and modern tuning to reflect the ultimate in vehicle personalization. A matte black exterior is accented with retro-style door graphics, and hand-built translucent red wheels give it the aggressive stance of a street-ready racer. The custom interior features a limited-edition brushed metal-look steering wheel and upscale leather work. From EcoBoost to EcoBeast, the powertrain has been treated to a Mishimoto performance air intake system and JMS BoostMAX, coupled with one-off fabrication and tuning.

Base Vehicle

2016 Ford Focus ST
2.0L I4 EcoBoost engine
6-speed manual transmission

Modifications

Powertrain

Mishimoto Performance air intake, oil cooler kit, J-Line intercooler, couplers, clamps
VMS Racing dual chamber catch can, oil cap
JMS Chip and Performance BoostMAX, PedalMAX and Custom tune
Flowmaster American Thunder exhaust, brushed SS tips
Vaccar’s Master Garage fabrication and installation
VMS Racing dual chamber catch can, oil cap

Chassis

BC Racing DR Series coilover suspension
VMS Racing Forged aluminium lug nuts

Wheels & Tires

Konig Interform flow formed (19”x8.5”) wheels
Continental ExtremeContact DW (235/35R19) tires

Exterior

BASF R-M custom “Hot Rod Black” paint
Canfield Collision & Custom bodywork
Baked Goods Creative “Blood & Grease DIY Garage” graphics
Diode Dynamics multicolor HD halos

Interior

GripRoyal x Blood & Grease special edition steering wheel
Katzkin Custom “Cardinal” leather and “Raven” suede upholstery
Kicker L7 QB8 loaded enclosure with KX 400.1 amplifier

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Press release
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