Unboxing Mustard’s SS Tuning Flares

I’d genuinely say that the 6 weeks (or so) leading up to this year’s Driven Calgary were the most hectic we’ve had, in terms of working on the cars, since we swapped Mustard 3 years ago.

Not only did Mustard receive updates for the new year, but Selsun was receiving its first modifications as well, the TBird and S13 were both treated to paint correction and full-body PPF, Spark saw some new parts and personalization, and preparations were made for Dijon’s makeover which will be coming later this year. And yes, those last two names will be new to most everyone reading this – more to come on those, later.

It seemed like nearly every day we were either dropping off parts for a car, picking up parts for a car, installing parts on a car, dropping off a car itself…you get the idea. No one car saw as much work as Mustard did back in 2016 but collectively, we managed to get a lot more than that done in the month and a half.

As such, the site obviously sat idle for a little bit – as it has done before when we’ve been stuck in the garage working and shooting instead of at the computer editing and writing – but now that we’re through the busy period I’m excited to start sharing everything that has happened with you all, in addition to the coverage from Driven itself.

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Speaking of Driven, a couple of weeks ago I put up a quick entry with photos from the show’s roll-in day, but today marks the official start of the “catching up” on the last couple of months of our lives. For today’s post we rewind to the day that the #Drivenprep/#summerprep really got started; appropriately, March 20th – 3/20. That was the day we unboxed my SS Tuning flares.

It was no secret that SS Tuning flares would be one of Mustard’s main 2019 updates. I’d ordered these back in November (on Black Friday) so that they could be produced and shipped during the cold winter months when the car was stored away anyway. From ordering to receiving them took about 4 months which wasn’t bad at all, though I am used to friends ordering parts from Varis and others and waiting 9 months to a year.

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Mario came over that night with the still very-new Selsun and as I got started with the unboxing, he started borrowing wheels to test fit and check some ideas. SS Tuning ships their flares in very sturdy wooden crates so the unboxing was done with a drill and Phillips bit as opposed to a knife. When Mario’s flares arrived last season I wasn’t present for the unboxing and mock-up; I only ever saw them after paint.

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For Focus owners there are a couple of options for flares from SS Tuning; I’d opted for the V2 front flares specifically because I preferred their styling over the V1. As well, they feature revised mating surfaces inside, reportedly to make the install easier and more secure. Having never seen V1s in person (yet…) I can’t offer a side-by-side comparison but we certainly found the eventual fitting to be fairly straightforward, though we made it more involved by cutting the fenders and flares as we did with Sriracha. Anyone who read that entry, or is familiar with SS Tuning’s flares, will know that they’re actually designed to bond directly over the intact factory fenders but that wasn’t an option for us given Mustard’s ride height and desired stance.

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Anyway, given that the flares had now arrived it was also time for me to dig out a few extra pieces that I’d been holding on to for this day. There was no way I was going to cut into Mustard’s original fenders to fit these, so I had a sacrificial second set ready to be used for these instead. The black fender was one I’d pulled from a Mk3 at a local junkyard over the winter; incidentally, it was very difficult to find a straight fender from the junkyard because it seemed that just about every Mk3 that had ever been there had lost its front end in a collision. Finally I found this one; the paint was absolutely buggered but that obviously didn’t matter.

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The red fender however, was one I’d saved from Ketchup back in 2016 because we knew back then that front flares would someday happen for Mustard. It had survived the impact so it was set aside and kept safe until the day for flares arrived. This would be the first exterior component of Ketchup to make its way on to the sedan, and with the time it spent sitting we were also able to think up an easter egg to hide on it to show that it had come from the ST…

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Oh, and that trunk lid that you saw? Earlier this year I’d received word that a Yellow Blaze sedan had just arrived at one of the junkyards so I immediately borrowed the Suburban to run down and grab some items; the front had been smashed (of course) but the trunk lid and some other small parts were mint, so I grabbed them all just because the chances of this happening again were slim. The lid is still stored away and isn’t scheduled to be used any time soon, but I’m happy to have it in the parts collection so that we can possibly try some ideas later on…I brought it out this day though just because I’d yet to see it next to the sedan in proper light.

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But back to the main topic of this post: the flares. At this stage I wasn’t yet going to pull apart the front of the Focus to fit the donor fenders so I instead masked up the original panels and started mocking up the flares. As a side note – in case anyone was still wondering why I too had only opted for front flares – naturally if I wasn’t going to cut up the original fenders for flares then I certainly wasn’t going to cut up the car’s quarter panels as there would be no going back from that. Being FWD a wider front track is more important anyway, and I like the reverse stagger look too! SS Tuning’s flares are fortunately a happy medium in terms of width, being wide enough to offer a worthy increase in room but without being so wide as to look out of place without matching rear flares. 

By taking the extra step and securing spare fenders there was also the added benefit of now having two front ends for the car; should I ever want or need to switch to a narrow front end, it’s just a matter of swapping out a few panels – don’t forget I have the original SE bumper stored away as well. Having spare fenders also meant that, frankly, if we (that is, I) really screwed up the cutting somehow I’d be throwing away a cheap used fender and still have an intact original piece to put back on while I hunted down another.

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Back (again) to the flares themselves now though; the finish was great as was the fitment prior to any work from us or the body shop. Having aftermarket parts fit like OEM out of the box is rare; SS did their homework with these and it showed. In the interest of full disclosure, some will know that I am SS Tuning’s Canadian representative, but A) I wouldn’t have been if I didn’t believe in their products in the first place and B) if there were any issues with the products I wouldn’t gloss over them or hide them. We were impressed with Sriracha’s flares, and we were impressed with Mustard’s flares.

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At this stage the sedan was still on the Integrales so we couldn’t yet get an idea of how it’d look with properly-fitting wheels; given the original fenders were still on and neither they nor the flares had been cut for clearance, the wheels couldn’t be spaced out because the tires would contact the panels at the car’s ride height. Until the cut fenders went on nothing appropriate for the new width could be mounted.

As for the cutting, none of that started this day so we’ll leave it here for now as far as Mustard is concerned. Before we wrap up though there are still a few shots of Selsun to share since Mario, as mentioned, was tinkering with it while I was in the garage using up all of my green masking tape in one go.

Flare unboxing 1

One small change that Mario had been wanting to make to Selsun was the third brake light. The RS comes from factory with a clear unit, as do Focus STs; he wanted to swap it out for a red light instead to match the tail lights and (prominent) reflectors, so during one of my junkyard runs (I made quite a few over the winter…) I had pulled one for him from a base Focus hatch.

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We’ve shown third brake light swaps before as some of the other hatches have received them, but it’s always worth quickly discussing since these swaps can be a bit confusing. Ford produced a few variations of these lights so it’s important to ensure you pick up the correct light with the correct combo of colour and washer nozzle angle for your particular car.

– For a Focus RS, you’ll want the OEM Focus SE/SEL/Titanium third brake light for a red assembly.

– For a Focus ST, you’ll want the OEM Fiesta ST third brake light for a red assembly.

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Because of the varying wing profiles among Ford’s different hatchbacks, the third brake lights were produced with washer nozzles mounted at different angles to ensure the sprayer hit the rear window in an appropriate location. You can of course swap in any red or clear light from any Focus/Fiesta because it’ll connect up and bolt in place, but without choosing the “correct” unit from the appropriate model, you may end up with a washer nozzle that isn’t aimed correctly and therefore doesn’t properly help clean the rear glass.

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Third brake light swapped, Mario then set about testing some wheels as mentioned earlier. He first tried my Tarmacs, but found that they actually contacted the OEM Brembos and wouldn’t even seat properly on the hubs because of that. So much for seeing the RS on some white wheels; we would end up having to wait a little while for that…

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Tarmac back off, he then threw on one of the 57DRs for fun and since it actually cleared the caliper and could be mounted we could get a proper look at it; the colour was a nice complement for the Nitrous Blue but you know that of course the car had to get some fifteen52s. It was still fun to play around for a few minutes though.

Before receiving wheels however Selsun needed its height addressed, so a few days later it was on a hoist at Mario’s work to receive some suspension work – that’ll be the next set of photos from our pre-Driven work to be shared (to be mixed with our coverage from Driven itself), as we continue getting all of you caught up on the many installs and updates made to the cars. Thanks for reading!

-Bill

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