Ever since the facelifted Mk3.5 Focus was first revealed, there have been constant debates over which exterior looks better – that of the newer Mk3.5, or the original Mk3. Everyone has their own preference, whether it be for the more rounded 3 or more angular replacement. However, as with any time a facelifted car is revealed there have not only been debates, but questions asking if and how a pre-facelift car can be converted to have the newer styling.
There were two cars known to have had conversions – an ST wagon received the Mk3.5 ST face, and SS Tuning converted the full exterior of their non-ST sedan to that of a 3.5, including an ST front end. Now there is a third vehicle known, this time from Texas.
The owner, Jon Miller, posted in one of the Focus owners’ Facebook groups that he had done the front end conversion to his 2014 ST (hatch, because North America). He had managed to find the needed parts at a junkyard so he promptly grabbed them to update the front end of his ST to that of the ’15+.
Upon seeing this I immediately got in touch asking if Jon would be willing to provide some photos and information so that it could all be shared here, and he graciously helped out by sending these over as well as answering the questions that I had. He confirmed that it was a fully bolt-on and plug and play affair, though he had specifically opted for non-HID headlights to replace his original non-HID units. On pre-facelifts, the HID lights required additional wiring (their plugs had 4 additional pins) over the non-HID lights so they were not a plug and play swap; I’d say it’s a safe bet to assume the same for facelifts. Regardless, he skipped issues altogether by replacing like with like.
What this also confirms for other owners who are considering the swap is what parts are needed; the upper radiator support and everything behind the bumper works without issue, meaning that as long as a complete bumper assembly is on hand (bumper shell, grilles, fog lights, main support piece) it’s simply a matter of removing the old and installing the new. Of course the lights and hood are needed as well, but the fenders were kept the same so they don’t have to be swapped or modified.
Seeing as how Jon only just fitted the parts they of course still need paint, but I wanted to get this post up to hopefully serve as useful reference for other owners who are considering the conversion.
Jon only did the front end conversion – and most people seem to prefer the pre-facelift rear anyway – but as an important note, reportedly the rear conversion for a hatch is not bolt on. Mike at RDC checked this and found that the sheetmetal of the car behind the tail lights seemed to have also been changed between the 3 and 3.5 which is surprising. I’ve yet to be able to check this myself but hopefully I can one day test with friends’ cars, or even find both a 3 and 3.5 at a junkyard and try swapping parts between them. As mentioned earlier SS Tuning converted both the front and rear of their sedan to 3.5 spec, but they haven’t mentioned if any sheetmetal had to be changed there.
So while the rear conversions have yet to be fully documented in detail, we have confirmation for all three body styles now that the front end swap is straight-forward and doesn’t require anything more than the panels and lights. For anyone who has been considering updating the front of their Mk3, I hope that this has helped! Of course, thanks goes again to Jon for providing photos and information so that this could be shared here today!