As it so happens today is the 6th anniversary of this site, but that’s not the anniversary that I’m wanting to focus on. Rather, I want to highlight that the Mk3 Focus platform is quickly approaching its 8th anniversary (yikes) in our market; it was the spring of 2011 when the first Mk3s started arriving in our showrooms and drivers were taking home their new daily drivers, projects, or both.
These days the Mk3 modifying community is a massive one with countless examples the world over being built up, from the S sedan way up to the RS LE hatches. Parts are plentiful and a lot has been done with the platform (in fact, SS Tuning has just shown off an RS-swapped wagon that they’ve been involved with. Yes, it’s AWD!) in the years since its launch, but I don’t intend to look at any of that today.
To touch on the site’s anniversary again, doing the math shows that it launched in early 2013 which means almost 2 years of Mk3 modifying and experimentation had taken place prior to that! A lot of installs and parts have been documented and discussed here over the years but what about the modifications (and, granted, “modifications” in quotations) that we were playing with in those early days?
This idea came to mind recently; I mentioned it to Paul (as in benzondubs Paul, more on that in a moment) and he seemed to like it, so here we go. Along with the newer installs and so forth that will continue to feature on the site, I also want to periodically take a look back at some of the installs and changes that were toyed with in those first years, as we got started figuring out and experimenting with the new Focus platform. Some are still seen today and have become commonplace, whereas others aren’t really known that well anymore or ended up being confined to the Mk3 specifically, with the changes that the Mk3.5 saw.
As more and more enthusiasts are picking up used Mk3s as projects now – they certainly are good value for money these days, even more so than they were to begin with – it’s probably a fair time to take a look back at some of the early modifications to shine a light on them once again and maybe even spark some ideas for builds today.
The first item that I want to look at is one which has been discussed on the site previously – though it hasn’t received a post truly dedicated to it – but is one that definitely isn’t seen enough these days; the benzondubs Stripe.
Of these “early modifications”, this is definitely the easiest and least expensive, though to be fair isn’t really a modification; it’s a simple vinyl accent but one that has always received a lot of positive feedback. Called the benzondubs Stripe (lowercase B, yes), it’s nothing more than a strip of vinyl applied to the bottom slats of an N/A Mk3’s grilles and was first done by Paul, whose black (and later blue) Black Pack SE you’ve seen on the site periodically over the years. The name came from his forum screen name of, surprise surprise, benzondubs.
As he was using green accents on his car at the time, his original benzondubs Stripe was naturally the same colour; note how he even had a custom SE badge stuck in the upper grille, in the same shade.
With their horizontal slats this only really works on the N/A Foci (that’s the S through Titanium trim levels), and only on the Mk3s as the facelifts (Mk3.5s) received different bumpers entirely. Mustard’s original N/A bumper wears a white stripe to match with the wheels and other accents, and even though it’s rarely on the car these days it always manages to draw attention when it is. People like the stripe!
Being vinyl, there’s also the added benefit that removing or redoing a benzondubs Stripe is a simple and painless process, so there’s the chance to experiment with different colours and finishes; and while you’re at it, why not address the upper grille as well?
I really had to dig in my archives for this one; I had covered up the chrome on Mustard’s upper grille almost straight away so there weren’t many photos showing its nose like this, but at least some existed!
Just as adding an accent to the lower grilles was a nice improvement to an N/A Mk3 nose, so was covering up the chrome of the upper grille, especially if the car in question had the Titanium lights (incidentally, those and their corresponding fog light bezels will be the focus of another “early modifications”/”early days” post). I can’t recall who was the first to do this but it caught on right away and as mentioned, was one of the first changes I made to Mustard after taking delivery. I promptly grabbed some satin black vinyl to contrast against the Piano Black grille and couldn’t have been happier with the result.
I do realize that I have devoted an entire post to discussing nothing more than a few bits of vinyl on the front of a Focus, but there’s no denying the impact that these small details have on the car’s appearance, and back in ’11/12 it was things like this that a lot of us played around with since we didn’t have the aftermarket that we do today. Regardless, they’re still worth considering now; receiving and fitting shiny new parts is hard to beat but never forget that not everything worth doing has to be expensive or elaborate. Sometimes, a tiny bit of colour or a tiny bit less chrome makes enough of a difference.
That being said, the next posts in this series will feature actual parts. Haha