Downgrading the RS?

OEM+ modifications are certainly nothing new to this site, nor are they to the modifying scene in general. Whether the car in question is new or old, domestic or import, every part of the automotive world sees builders at times fitting pieces from a newer, higher, or otherwise “better” version of their car. It’s that last word that I want to focus on here, “better”. Typically we look to versions of our cars that are above ours within their respective families for these parts, and the Focus world is no exception with SE parts on Ss, ST parts on SEs, and RS parts on STs; but what happens when you can’t go any higher?

Let’s take Selsun for instance. You could consider the RS LE to technically be above it in the rankings, but effectively there is nowhere to go except down. Who says that’s a bad thing though? Today I want to look at a few ways in which Mario has borrowed from lower Focus models to achieve something he was after, before also looking at a few additional changes made to the RS in recent times.

All Ford 2019 14

We might as well start off with the most obvious one, which is also proving to be the most controversial: ditching the signature RS wing.

Selsun wing

Always wanting something more aggressive, just as many lower-model hatch owners hunted for (and still do hunt for) the ST wing, these days more and more are now chasing the impossible-to-miss RS piece. Mario – having one from the start obviously – decided to do just the opposite and go for something more subtle.

Selsun ST wing 7

He wanted to make the exterior of the car just a little less in-your-face and the wing was the first step in doing so. He wasn’t switching to a base wing or even a Black Pack piece mind you, but instead opted for what could be considered just one step down in terms of aggression: an ST wing.

Selsun ST wing 8

It took some effort but eventually a used ST wing was located and purchased, and promptly sent out to be painted Nitrous Blue.

Selsun ST wing 9

You’ll see from the signatures that Mario took some of these photos, as he and Derrick carried out the swap one day at work. Those with a keen eye may note that Derrick is putting the red base model Focus light back here after pulling it out of the RS wing; Mario now needs to source (ironically) an OEM Fiesta ST light to get his washer aligned properly.

Selsun ST wing 10

Wing fitted, the natural next step was a wash to get the car all clean and shiny again. I will point out – because I know people will inquire otherwise – that Mario is not going to be selling his original wing. It’s definitely staying in the spare parts pile!

Selsun ST wing 1Selsun ST wing 3Selsun ST wing 5Selsun ST wing 6

A little while after the swap I was finally able to see the car in person when Mario brought it by for me to grab some photos. You’ll note that he’s not running wing risers as many owners do (he had fitted some to Ketchup and those risers are still on Dijon today), in a deliberate move to keep it even more low-key.

Selsun ST wing 11

Some have been very confused as to why he chose to ditch the RS wing but with the Nitrous paint and the rest of the RS body kit still in place, there’s no mistaking what it is.

RS OEM+ 1

Inside the car, a few more lower-model pieces have been fitted as well. You may recall that one of the first changes made to Selsun was to install all-black outer dash air vents to replace the original pieces with their “chrome” trim. Mario wanted to rid the interior of a bit more of that material, so the rear doors now feature matching lower-model handles. The front handles for the time being are still Selsun’s originals until we find a way to neatly paint a set black, as we have yet to find a set of black facelift front handles (surely facelift S sedans still got them?).

Quick bit of Focus geekery: the rear handles among ’12-14 (prefacelift) and ’15-18 (facelift) cars can be swapped as they are the exact same size and shape. The fronts cannot be however, as the door lock buttons were moved from the center stack to the door handle casing as one of the many revisions for 2015, and so the handle assemblies (and therefore openings in the door panels) are larger than they were for prefacelift cars. The handle you see in the photo above is from a prefacelift as indicated by the round screw cover; facelift handles had a more squared-off cover instead.¬†

RS OEM+ 2

That same “chrome” trim could also be found on the auxiliary gauge pod, which Mario remedied by ditching completely! Actually, this was done as he preferred having the extra visibility out of the windshield and the pod was redundant at this point since he has the Accessport to display all of the same parameters (and more) with greater detail and accuracy. For those wondering, a little bit of the trim will be remaining such as around the inner vents and the volume knob.

RS OEM+ 3RS OEM+ 5

The other OEM parts to highlight today are ones that I’m sure any RS owner will agree with, given they’re becoming increasingly common modifications: a Euro-spec faceplate and matching cupholders! The cover on the cupholders is a nice feature along with a sliding divider inside, and Mario now has a button to turn the screen off completely for night-time driving. The new faceplate has its buttons in a different layout and also features a matte finish (instead of gloss) as well as a lack of Sony branding.

Selsun ST wing 2

Before we close there are two final updates I want to quickly mention even though they’re aftermarket parts, with the first being Selsun’s new MBRP exhaust system! This now rounds out the engine modifications for the blue hatch.

RS OEM+ 4

The second is something that you may have spied earlier in the post, and that would be a new shift knob. This came from an RS that a friend (Austin) recently purchased; he didn’t want it and Mario did, so it of course ended up in Selsun. However, what you may not realize from looking at the photos is that the blue cap is actually now Nitrous Blue! It was originally a darker shade but Mario decided to have it paint matched as a super-subtle change, given that some paint was already being mixed up anyway.

Selsun ST wing 4

So what do you think? We’re curious to hear more thoughts from other Focus owners on these “downgrades” that Mario has made to Selsun. It’s worth remembering that lower models may have pieces we prefer, or that work for our purposes, instead of just focusing on higher models. Mustard has a couple of bits from a Focus S and even my Grand Prix has base-model tail lights swapped in; sometimes the parts we want do exist in the OEM catalogue, and we just have to look the other direction for them.

-Bill

One comment

  • Other things to consider, European folding mirrors with puddle lights, European headrests, inBay wireless charger, European center console with magnetic lock for sliding armrest, lighted door sill panels, power dimming mirror (possibly with homelink). The sweet European articulated door edge protectors would be swell, as well.

    The iDatalink FOC-1 kit, for upgrading to an aftermarket head unit would allow for ditching the chrome around the center vents. Lower end models also offer a black shift boot retaining ring.

    I haven’t seen anyone do it yet, but incorporating the Focus ST ST3 interior lighting controls, for various color selection, might be a nice OEM+ modification. Perhaps even adding the keyless entry of the early PFL Focus, for the rear door handles.

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