Crapwagon Outtake: 2004 Ford Focus SVT

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

For decades, compact cars from Dearborn were miserable. Blue Oval enthusiasts in North America looked longingly at the rally-bred Escorts in the UK and Europe, wondering when the promised “world car” would cross the Atlantic.

Improbably, I was one of those guys. I bought a 2000 Focus sedan (ZTS model with the twincam Zetec) with six months and 6000 miles on the odo, and flogged it for seven years and about a dozen recalls. Should have listened to my Dad, who always warned against buying a first-year model.

These days, we have it good, with FiST s and FoSTs, and a real RS on the horizon. But in those dreary days of the early aughts, the only compact with sporting intentions came with the SVT badge, like this 2004 model. A couple dozen seem to be up for grabs across the web at any given time, so these aren’t particularly unusual or rare. The $6k price tag seems to be the middle of the typical range.

Nonetheless, the SVT Focus is a great hot-hatch bargain, with plenty of potential on track or in autocross. Despite my flawed history with the nameplate, I’d love to see a blue five-door in my driveway.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • IMatt IMatt on May 15, 2015


  • Richard Richard on May 15, 2015

    I've driven all the Mk1 Foci except the three door and rate it highly for driving quality and utility. The only problem was that the seats were a bit hard and flat. I rather love the styling inside and out. I didn't mind the plastic at all. Soft touch plastic is over-rated. The Mk1 is one if the all time great affordable cars. It benefitted hugely from its "inclusive design" (Google it) and had first rate ergonomics.

  • Theonewhogotaway Theonewhogotaway on May 15, 2015

    Had a 2000 SX3 manual and was problem-free enough to make me replace it with a 2005 SX5 auto, which was also problem free. Not sure what the reliability issues allegedly were, but mine did not have them. As far as build quality, the car the 2000 SX3 replaced for me was an E28 528e manual. Yes, build quality was not BMW-like, but the handling and tossability of those cars with the 5sp transmission was right up there.

  • INeon INeon on May 17, 2015

    SRT-4 spanks this.