Kicking the habit of a lifetime can be a difficult business. Say, for example, you’ve spent the past quarter of a century toying with fast Fords and, driven by curiosity, have made the brave decision to try out another manufacturer’s offering. The likelihood is that you’ll hop into your new ride in an attempt to get a feel for its unfamiliar layout before hitting the road whereupon you’ll immediately bring to mind all the things that you loved about the Blue Oval. Within a week, there’s every chance that you’ll be scanning the classifieds for a Ford fix and will be muttering something about regret!

A red faced Eric Lloyd, proprietor of tuning firm, KMS Motorsport, admits that this is true of his own car history. “I bought my first motor at the age of fifteen. It was an Escort XR3 that I salvaged from a local breaker’s yard and it became my daily hack from the moment that I passed my driving test,” he tells us. The years that followed saw him sat behind the wheel of a huge number of formidable Fords including Sapphire Cosworths in various states of tune, XR2s, Capris, Escort Cossies and even an Orion 1600E. “I’m a Ford man through and through but figured that there was no harm in checking out the competition!” laughs the 39 year-old.

Predictably, the experience proved to be less than satisfactory. “I bought an Insignia VXR and treated my wife to a new Zafira,” he continues. “First impressions were good, but both cars spent a huge amount of time in Vauxhall repair centres during the short period that we owned them. Thankfully, manufacturer warranties covered the work, but the affair certainly highlighted how solid our Fords had been in comparison.”

With the Griffins providing their fair share of misery to the Lloyd household, a trip down memory lane encouraged Eric to sell up in favour of a 2010-plate Ultimate Green Mk2 Focus RS. The car was just four months old and had lived a tame life as a dealership demonstrator vehicle. It looked great, included optional white wheels and ticked all the right boxes thanks to the desirable Lux Pack 2 reverse camera and satellite navigation system.

 

“I bought the RS for myself and picked up a Focus ST for the missus. Both cars are great out of the box and provide a superb base for tuning,” beams Eric. An increase in the RS’s already-respectable 300bhp came in the form of an early remap, although it didn’t take long for its new owner to spot other areas that he considered ripe for an overhaul.

Working in the motor trade since before he left school, Eric has always modified his cars in an effort to improve their handling, performance and safety features. Friends and family would approach him with requests for updates to their own motors, and it became apparent that his passion for feisty Fords could develop into something more than a hobby. “I’d visited a lot of tuning firms and bought a wide variety of upgrades for my cars over the years. Often, I ended up disappointed with the level of customer service that I received – or with the quality of the products themselves – and figured that I could do a better job myself,” he explains.

Thus, Wigan’s KMS Motorsport was formed. The ‘run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts’ motto has never been more applicable as Eric has surrounded himself with likeminded folk that are just as passionate about the Blue Oval as he is. “We pride ourselves on developing close relationships with all of our customers and tailor the KMS product range to their specific needs,” he confirms, simultaneously pointing out that the company is moving into much larger premises and investing in a huge inventory of new machinery due to an ever growing demand for its services.

Developing products for octane obsessed Ford fans is all well and good, but Eric knew that he was going to need a car to use as the guinea pig for his designs and as a demonstrator to take to the summer shows. “The RS was sitting on 19-inch BBS LMs and I’d added Viper stripes along the bonnet and roof,” he recalls. “I’d been through a number of suspension setups and minor engine upgrades but was never comfortable with the end result. I decided to start again with a considered approach that I hoped would deliver a fast road car capable of producing 500bhp,” he says.

Bigger injectors, an enlarged intercooler, an uprated fuel pump and a prototype KMS turbo-back exhaust system were the first items to appear on the refreshed RS. The car produced 420bhp following a series of mapping sessions, but this was still a long way off of the target figure. “We were very busy with the development of the exhaust system and there was certainly a lot of trial and error involved,” concedes Eric. Fortunately, his efforts paid off, and the car now sports a magnificent 3-inch system with 5.5-inch titanium tailpipes designed to sit comfortably within the car’s OE diffuser apertures.

A blue wrap and bigger brakes were added to the car thereafter, but disaster struck early one weekday morning. “I was dropping my daughter off at school when one of the other parents alerted me to the fact that my car had reversed itself into a lamp post!” grimaces Eric. The integrated handbrake of the aftermarket stoppers had failed and caused the car to roll downhill. Ouch.

A ruined wrap, a damaged rear end, a sizeable debt to the local council and the revelation that his brakes weren’t up to scratch roused Eric into installing a massive kit from PB Brakes. The setup is claimed to be the largest on any Focus in the UK thanks to eight-pot calipers with 405mm discs up-front and six-pots with 380mm discs at the rear. Needless to say, the car now stops on a sixpence and lamp posts can sleep easy thanks to the addition of a Line-Lock parking brake!

KMS became a distributor for Revo software, and the Focus received a Stage 5+ map to manage a Garrett GTX35 turbocharger, a Spec R intercooler and accompanying pipework, a Sitech modified cylinder head featuring Stage 2 camshafts, 750cc injectors, twin Bosch fuel pumps and a huge number of other performance enhancing updates, all of which join forged pistons and rods under a specially designed carbon-fibre bonnet. “It’s a unique KMS hood that features heat release ducts on each side and is inspired by the bonnet of the WRC Focus,” says Eric.

The rally influence doesn’t end there; a genuine WRC roof scoop and carbon-fibre rear spoiler find themselves attached to the car, and a unique race ready vinyl wrap features a design that extends beyond the bodywork and onto the powdercoated BBS CH-R rims that house those humungous PB calipers.

Defying expectation, a rolling road session produced graphs demonstrating an output of over 625bhp and 512lb/ft torque! It’s a brilliant achievement and a testament to the amount of time and effort that has gone into this fantastic Ford. Despite these figures and the car’s track focussed appearance, however, the interior remains largely unchanged as the RS continues to act as Eric’s daily driver. In fact, contrary to popular belief, it has yet to be seen hammering around any race circuit at all. “I did a parade lap at Castle Combe last year, but I was never interested in building this car for track use. Besides, the Focus is usually parked up on our trade stand when at the summer shows!” he smiles.

Developmental work continues with the new KMS ‘Thunderstorm’ exhaust system due to be installed on the car as we go to press. Furthermore, Eric is looking forward to settling in to his firm’s new unit so that he can finalise plans to equip his RS with a workable four-wheel drive system. No plans to sell up and buy another Vauxhall then? “Ha! I’m sticking with Fords indefinitely,” he chuckles. Yep, it’s true what they say – old habits die hard!

 

 

TECH SPEC

Engine:
2.5-litre 20v five-cylinder Duratec turbo, Revo Stage 5+ map on stock ECU, GTX35 turbocharger, Tial 44mm V-band wastegate, Wiseco forged pistons, K1 conrods, ARP bolts throughout, Sitech Racing modified cylinder head with ported inlets, Cat Cams Stage 2 camshafts, uprated valve springs, 750cc Bosch fuel injectors, custom fuel system with twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Anembo Engineering anodised intake plenum with custom graphics, Spec R oil cooler, Spec R intercooler and boost pipes, hydro-dipped Spec R crossover pipe, ITG induction kit, tubular exhaust manifold, KMS Firestorm 3-inch exhaust system with 5.5-inch titanium tailpipes, Auto Specialists polished header tank and wing rails, track spec torque mount and hydro-dipped ECU cover

Power:
625.3bhp @ 6666rpm, 512.7lb/ft torque @ 6166rpm (proven)

Transmission:
Factory six-speed M66 gearbox, Gripper plate differential, Sitech Racing organic clutch kit, lightened flywheel

Suspension:
Bilstein B16 dampers with custom setting, Elevate anti-roll bar, Summit polished strut brace, Powerflex bushes

Brakes:
PB big brake kit: 8-piston calipers with 405mm discs (front), 6-piston calipers with 380mm discs (rear), calipers powdercoated yellow with custom engraving, race spec pads, braided hoses, Line-Lock parking brake, Dot 5.1 fluid

Wheels and Tyres:
9×20-inch BBS CH-R wheels powdercoated to match exterior wrap, Falken Azenis 245/35/20 tyres

Exterior:
Full body wrap with bespoke design and sponsor graphics, bespoke carbon-fibre bonnet with heat release ducts, WRC roof scoop and carbon-fibre rear spoiler, Focus ST hatchback roof spoiler, carbon-fibre mirror covers, Kaylan mudflaps, tinted rear lights and side repeaters, Lux Pack 1 & 2 optional extras (including keyless entry, automatic headlamps, rear parking sensors, rain-sensitive wipers), personalised registration plates, custom badges

Interior:
Carbon-fibre backed half-leather RS seats, OMP steering wheel, Sparco snap-off boss, Apexi AVCR boost controller, Dashdaq XL data monitor, additional gauges (boost, exhaust gas temperature, water temperature, battery voltage, air/fuel ratio), blue lighting kit, Lux Pack 2 integrated satellite navigation system, rear view parking camera, tyre deflation detector, dual zone climate control, Audio Control LC6i line output convertor, Planet Audio Big Bang 6×9-inch speakers, twin Planet Audio 12-inch subwoofers.

THANKS:
Richard at Blueprint Nottingham, Craig at hydroprinting.co.uk for saving our bacon on the day of the shoot, Chris at CH Bodyworks for the light tints, Simon at Elite Tinting for the window work, the KMS crew (Liam, Jay and Chris), all our friends, our customers and our Facebook followers.

 

This feature first appeared in the April 2014 issue

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