If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Diving Into The New Project

This is was my fiancee’s 2002 Ford Focus LX. I’m sure I’ll summarize my progress on Right Foot Down at some point, but I figure I’ll give Oppo and Twitter a running commentary. Don’t worry, my BRZ is alive and well. This will be my winter beater and hopefully rallycross car eventually. Maybe it’s not a real project car because it actually runs and drives properly. But it’s officially and legally mine as of this morning, and I’m already getting started on it.

The first step was swapping in the Sony stereo I saved from my ex-cop car last year. The Focus already had a Sony stereo, but mine had a USB port in addition to the aux jack and will play music off of and charge my phone, so I wanted to install it instead. Naturally, absolutely none of the wiring was compatible between two nearly identical looking Sony CD players, so I had to cut and splice the harnesses together. But I did that, and it works perfectly.

Since my fiancee’s new Ford Flex already has Bluetooth, she left me her standalone interface. This works beautifully with the replacement stereo. I can plug it into the aux jack for sound and the USB port for power, and poof, instant Bluetooth stereo. I need to pick up another iPhone cable to leave in this car for when I want to actually plug mine in.

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The condo complex where I live has the worst water, and the sprinklers spray it all over our cars (assigned spaces, moving to a no spray zone is not an option). I discovered this my first summer there with my P71. It buffs out, but you can see how nasty the “before” side of the car is. The Focus has fared just as badly over this course of the year. I may or may not have a chance to buff it after they stop irrigating and before the weather gets nasty, but the headlights needed some serious help immediately.

I tried a cheap headlight restoration kit, and much to my surprise it worked great! As you can see in the top pic, the headlights are the only shiny part of the front of the car now. The lenses themselves are in good shape, not yellowed or pitted, so I don’t need to replace them. They were also aimed way too low, especially the passenger side, so I raised them up a bit. It’s dark for my evening commute now, so we’ll see how well they light up the back roads then. If it’s still not enough, I’ll look into brighter bulbs and possibly additional lighting. The problem is I spend most of my time in traffic, so as much as I want to, I can’t just go rally style and throw an LED light bar or a pair of Hella 500s on the front without blinding everyone in front of me and getting high beams in my face, so I’ll have to find a non-blinding alternative that’ll throw more light down in my low beam range where I need it most.

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The left front tire has a slow leak, but whatever - that’s what my tire pump is for every few days. Soon enough I’ll be swapping the winter wheels and tires on anyway. I’m inclined to put them on earlier rather than later, and leave the BRZ equipped with its Michelin PSS for as long as I can.

In the future, I’ll install a ham radio - either my Kenwood TM-621A that doesn’t really fit, or swap my Kenwood TM-G707A out of the BRZ and into the Focus. I have the remote head kit for that radio, so I can put the controls on the dashboard while putting the bulk of the radio out of the way (it’s under the driver’s seat in my BRZ). The Focus’s automatic transmission makes a hand mic much easier to use. I’m more inclined to take the taller, more softly sprung Focus to rallies and RallySprints to help with communications than the BRZ, or the Flex if my lady and I go together. Plus I could remove the unsightly antenna from the BRZ to get its clean lines back. Ironically my radio callsign license plate would remain on the car with no radio, but that’s OK.

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If I end up rallycrossing, I’m going to want a skidplate. I haven’t found any off-the-shelf solutions, so I may end up fabricating one. I have a road sign like this one that could be converted into one, though it’s also a sweet decoration I’m not sure I want to give up. Fortunately I know people in the SCA who make plate armor, so I’ll have no problem slumming into someone’s shop to fabricate this sometime.

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I think that’s about it for now.

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