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Here's Why I'm Not Modifying My Ford Focus ST

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author photo by Eric Brandt June 2017

When it came time to buy a family car a few years ago, I didn't want to give up a fun, engaging drive. As a result, it didn't take me long to figure out that the Ford Focus ST was the perfect car for my needs and wants. It delivers all of the advantages of a front-wheel drive, five-door hatch with a genuinely exciting driving experience. And, of course, it has the all-important manual transmission. It's both the most practical and the most fun car I've ever owned.

However, I've noticed that I'm in a minority of sport compact owners. Most of the time, when I see another Ford ST or similar cars like a Volkswagen GTI, Subaru WRX or other affordable sporty car, they're usually modified. They're often noisy, thanks to an aftermarket blow-off valve and eBay exhaust, and they're riddled with stickers on the rear windshield that say things such as "built not bought" (adding stickers does not make it a build) or "daily driven" (on a front-wheel drive compact? Okay). And don't get me started on stance. That's when you spend a bunch of money to make your car ride worse and handle worse, so it can be slightly lower to the ground. Your car looks a little more like a concept drawing, but you're bottoming out when you run over anything larger than a graham cracker.

Stance isn't the only mod that makes a car less functional without making it cooler. Once I met a guy with a Focus ST who was showing me his rear windshield wiper delete. You read that right. He purposely removed his rear windshield wiper. Apparently, he thought it was so unsightly that he'd rather deal with rain obstructing his vision. Then, of course, you have the people who black out their headlights and taillights in order to make them less functional and less safe.

Let me tell you why I'm forgoing any major modifications to my Ford Focus ST: because the car was already done. I'm humble enough to admit that Ford, a century-old car company, is better at building a car than I am. My Focus ST is already a great car that does everything I ask it to do -- and it does it really well. I don't need it to stand out much more, because it's already bright yellow, with 18-inch wheels, a body kit and a spoiler from the factory that's aggressive without being too extreme.

I'm not saying the car is perfect. I'd like it more if it were a Focus RS, and I'll agree with many of my ST brethren that it's a little too quiet. I must admit, next time I have $600 burning a hole in my pocket I might break down and get a Roush cat-back exhaust. But that's where I'd stop.

Another reason I'm not modding my Focus is that I'd like to sell it someday. I know I'm not going to keep it forever -- and while it might not sound "cool," I actually care about my Focus ST's resale value. Everyone knows that modifications usually make the value of a car go down -- but if you're really lucky, it will make the value stay the same. There's no return on investment for a cold air intake. That's because chances are, the next owner of your car won't think that your mods are as cool as you do. Everyone I know who is looking for a used performance car is looking for something as close to stock as possible -- so think twice before ordering that stage 3 ultra-lightweight shift knob. And remember: Even when you install your mods, they may make the car a little more difficult to drive, a little less usable and a little less balanced. For those reasons, I'll stay with stock.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Here's Why I'm Not Modifying My Ford Focus ST - Autotrader