According to my mother, this was the point when we’d taken the Focus too far. It wasn’t the coilovers and low ride height, the swap and accompanying volume increase, or anything else we’ve done to the sedan over the years; it was removing the rear seats.
Mustard’s days of being a daily are of course behind it. When I first bought the car and planned for it to be my daily I figured I’d keep it around 5 to 7 years and then move on to something else, so in fairness it did fill the intended role for the predicted amount of time. Of course the plan has changed and it’s now a permanent part of the garage, but at least I sort of kept true to the initial idea….but I’m getting off topic.
I might as well start with the “why” of this. Of course, the main idea behind Mustard has been to build our interpretation of what Ford would have done had they chosen to offer the ST as a sedan. It’s safe to say that we’ve accomplished that, so where could we go from there? Let us suppose that Ford, in some alternate universe, didn’t just offer an ST sedan but also offered something more FOCUSed (ha), along the lines of the GTI Clubsport S, M4 GTS, or even their own GT350R. They all have some combination of more power, less weight, and less…seats. You get the idea.
In truth I could probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve actually had passengers in the rear of the Focus. The rear bench was really only ever used as a glorified shelf for cargo, or folded down to make room for, well, cargo. Should I need more than two seats I have the Grand Prix in the summer and Continental in the winter anyway, so there was really no issue with just ditching them entirely.
Last fall was when I pulled the bench, and so over the winter the Focus sat with just a stripped back half; in some photos (and YouTube clips) you can see it with the painted metal showing. Leaving it at that would have been the easy solution, but I wanted it to look OEM; I wanted it to be believable that it had left the factory this way, and so over the winter months I worked on the design for some closeout panels on and off.
As Driven Calgary began to get much closer, it was time to get to work. The design was fairly straight-forward but it still took a surprising amount of man-hours to turn into what you see here; two custom-made panels that seal off the back of the car.
Due to interest we’re considering offering the blueprints for these at the very least, or perhaps making copies, but that hasn’t been finalized yet so for the time being I hope you don’t mind the photos being exclusively of the panels in place; it took a lot of time to sort out the mounting system and that is what I was most concerned about in the designing and building of these. It’d be easy to just cut two pieces to the right shape and install them, but these instead install using ONLY OE mounting points for the rear bench and trim; the base slides into place and then clips into the factory seat latches, whereas the back then slots into the base, and is secured along the top via two clips and two bolts through existing holes in the rear structure of the car. This took a lot of time to figure out…
For the better part of a week I spent my afternoons and evenings in the garage taking the panels from sketches, to a template, and then to a finished product. Mario and Derrick then came by to lend a hand with upholstering them, as the fabric had to be quickly but carefully positioned and held in place following the application of the adhesive; a big thank-you goes to both of them, once again, for their assistance!
With the hard part out of the way it was then time to play with a couple of details to further make it look like a factory effort. Naturally, along with the bench its seatbelt latches and other anchors were removed since they’d no longer be needed, so the rear seatbelts were also pulled. With no one sitting back there and nowhere to clip them in, they’d be useless and do nothing but add weight.
However, they wouldn’t be the only unneeded items back there. If there would be no one in the rear of the car, why would there need to be window switches?
Very conveniently, the Focus S has manual rear windows. What this means is that the rear doors in those cars – and only those cars – receive blank handles without power window switches. I ordered a pair from Advantage (they’re really inexpensive due to being just a single piece of plastic each) and swapped them in place of the original parts.
It’s worth noting however, that on cars without one-touch windows on all doors (such as Mustard) simply removing the rear window switches breaks the circuit to the rear windows, and so they cannot be rolled down at all; to solve this, I pulled the switches out of the original handles and kept them plugged in to the door harnesses, which are tucked behind the door cards now. It’s perhaps a bit funny to still have window switches sitting behind the door cards, but this was necessary to allow the rear windows to still function while keeping with the original design idea of having no visible controls in the back of the car.
I will point out that yes, the door releases are still installed but one: we’d have to make something custom to blank those off and two: I see the benefits of keeping interior releases on panels as being more important than removing a few extra grams of weight. There’s probably also a vehicle regulation that would prevent Ford from omitting them anyway.
And so, there’s the first proper look at Mustard’s main change for this season, and one I’ll say I’m rather proud of. As mentioned above the panels are secured using existing mounting points, but also remove entirely in seconds once the two bolts are undone, and I still have the ability to carry large cargo as the rear panel can be removed separately (or folded down) to access the trunk of the car. I may continue to refine the panels or mounting system, but for a “Mk1” I’m more than happy.
For a while the interior of Mustard was its weak point and I’m very pleased to see real progress being made on it this year. Admittedly it’s currently a bit of a mix-up of parts and colours (some OE silver trim remains, whereas the doors now have the white leather and carbon fiber trim) but that’ll all be addressed in time. Currently I’m preparing to change out the center console trim to something that’ll work with the Arctic White door cards, and also am collecting parts to (finally) change the headliner and upper pillars from the OE tan/off-white shade that all sedans received. The front seats really need to go now as they will soon match nothing in the interior, but I’m not sure when exactly they’ll be replaced.
There’s also the option of going Dodge Demon style and unbolting the passenger seat, but that would definitely be going too far…