In this modern age of mobile inter-webs, myface, and i-twotter it’s impossible to get away from people’s opinions. Usually this just means being subjected to a load of drivel from needy attention-seekers, compelled to tell you every minor little thing that has happened in their boring lives. But, the potential of these social media sites is massive – properly massive. And occasionally they are the cause of something that’s mightily impressive – like this awesome, albeit very scary-looking Focus RS500.
The man behind the car is Adrian Thompson of Focus RS Direct fame – basically the man you go to if you want to buy or sell a Focus RS. Adrian has been buying and selling fast Focuses for a couple of years now, but admits that project ‘Optimus’ as it’s now known only began about six months ago. He recalls: “I’d had a bit of a rough time of it with other things going on in my life, so when everything finally settled down I decided I was going to treat myself – I’d realised life’s too short and I might as well enjoy myself.” At that point the company had four (yes, four!) RS500s in for sale, so Adrian decided that one of them was to become his new toy – something he could modify and improve how he wanted yet still use everyday. This would also act as the perfect test bed and demo car for any new products the company wanted to sell.
With that in mind Adrian was quick to start making his mark on the RS500 – literally, as the first modification was a simple registration plate change. “I had two options, either 61 ADY or D17ECT and I couldn’t decide which I preferred,” remembers Adrian, “I decided to put a quick post on our Facebook page and asked what other people thought.” You can see for yourself what the preferred plate was, but the important thing to note was the massive positive response the car received – at that point the scene was set for this build and any planned upgrades would be put to the vote before being fitted.
The first thing to be decided in that fashion was the wheel choice. Adrian had a car come in with these BBS rims on it, he loves them but true to the plan put it to the Facebook-verdict. Thankfully the response was an overwhelming ‘hell-yeah’, and quite rightly so – they just look awesome on the RS. Adrian admits that he has actually changed the wheels on several occasions, trying everything from cheap imports through to genuine motorsport jobbies, but nothing suites the car better than the 20inch BBS CHR.
At this point Adrian was shocked by the responses the car was getting: “it was practically going viral, and was mentioned on loads of forums as well as being all over Facebook,” he recalls, “so I decided to run with it.”
To keep it at the forefront of peoples’ minds Adrian decided that the project needed a name. As they were undertaking a ‘transformation’ of the car the name ‘Optimus’ was mentioned, and it stuck. “I’ve never been one for naming cars or anything like that, and we never referred to the car as ‘Optimus’, but the name somehow got attached to the car and that’s what it’s become knows as,” explains Adrian.
Things continued in this unprecedented ‘you decide’ style for a few weeks, with things like the Fly Eyes kit being fitted before awaiting trial by the Facebook-jury to see if they can stay or need to be removed again.
But the next big change was to come under the bonnet. Having driven so many of these cars Adrian’s well placed to assess it’s performance, and he couldn’t help thinking the standard RS500 just felt a bit flat, especially when compared to tuned RS models. Also, Adrian’s driven cars with tuning packages from pretty much all the big players in the industry, but his personal preferences are the Collins Performance upgrades – in particular the CP420 kit.
Being an RS500 the car had parts like a larger intercooler and uprated fuel pump already in place, so all that was needed to make the CP420 kit work was basically a map and injectors. That said, it didn’t stop Adrian loading the Focus up with loads more goodies too: a selection of Auto Specialists’ products including intercooler, hard boost pipe kit, aluminium inlet plenum, carbon fibre induction system, and header tank all now live within this RS500 engine bay. And they’re all kept company by a load of gorgeous carbon fibre parts from Streamline Carbon too.
As any good demo car should, this car has been solely responsible for bringing a few new products to market. Firstly was the Auto Specialists’ inlet plenum, and while it’s not the first RS to feature one, it was the first car to have one in red. Impressed with the results this is a finish Auto Specialists now offers to all its customers. The same is true of the JS Performance hoses too, and thanks to this very car you can now buy a set of silicone hoses in red for your Focus RS too,
Also, part of this car’s ‘demo’ duties is to evaluate products to determine whether they are any good or not. If they are then RS Direct will stock them, if they’re not then they won’t.
Adrian explains how that ethos has lead to RS Direct stocking both BC Racing coilovers, and K-Sport brakes: “I’m not all about fitting the most expensive products, but I do believe in fitting parts that work. I previously had the H&R lowering springs fitted (which were great) but when I heard about the BC Racing coilovers decided I needed to try them for myself before we could offer them to customers. I did the same with the K-Sport brakes too, and I tell you what – both of them are brilliant, and offer great value!”
Adrian did treat the car to some fancy jewellery though, in the shape of beautiful and elegant carbon fibre. This RS500 now wears a carbon fibre rear spoiler, rear diffuser, fog surrounds, mudflaps, and headlight eyebrow – all of which works unbelievably well with the matt black finish to give an angry yet graceful appearance. If this car was a person it’d be an axe-murderer wearing an Armani suit!
It’s not just the outside that’s draped in sexy carbon either. Open the door and you spot another ‘first’ – the carbon fibre door sill covers which incorporate the car’s build number. Nice.
And that’s before we get to this car’s swangsong – the interior. Based on seeing their previous work, SF Car Trim in Essex was called upon to give the Focus a suitable makeover. “The brief I gave them was simple; no red seats, no horrible standard plastics, and it needs to be useable – I just left the rest up to them, and they’ve done a fantastic job,” smirks a justifiably satisfied Adrian. There’s even a hidden secret in there too, and if you were lucky enough to ever sit in this car you’ll soon notice what that was – especially when your backside started warming up. Yep, the Recaro Sportster CS seats have been delicately fitted with heater elements too. Adrian was so chuffed with them he says: “I was that pleased I thought I’m not going to be tight, I’ll even have one for the passenger too!”
With the interior makeover complete the only thing that’s left to do is fit a decent sound system, which is something Adrian’s already working on: “You can’t see them but it’s already got some decent speakers fitted, and we’re just waiting to get the rest of the system finished in the next couple of weeks or so,” Adrian tells us. No doubt any potential I.C.E install options will also be put to the Facebook-vote before Adrian makes a final decision.
All of which just goes to prove that the world on online social media is just like real life – compare ‘logging on’ to walking through the doors of your local pub if you will. The first thing you will see is attention-seeking, flirtatious women who just want to be noticed, followed quickly by the moaning old gits that don’t have a positive word to say about anyone or anything. But persevere, wade through the rubbish, and you’ll soon find that there are actually a lot of good people out there – and it’s those who’s opinions are worth asking for. They can provide you with almost immediate and very knowledgeable advice – take heed it’s possible to build something as special as this RS500.
Focus RS500 engine (build no.119), Siemens 550cc injectors, Milltek turbo-back exhaust system with sports cat, Auto Specialists inlet plenum in custom red ‘RS500’ finish, Auto Specialists carbon fibre cold air induction system, Airtec stage2 intercooler with hard boost pipe kit, JS Performance red silicone hose kits, Mountune re-circulating valve, RS Direct dump valve, Collins Performance CP420 software, full under-bonnet carbon kit from Streamline Carbon, Auto Specialists black header tank, Collins Performance bonnet lifters, under-bonnet mirror kit, decal pack
Original Focus RS 6-speed gearbox with standard Focus RS clutch and flywheel assembly
K-Sport 8-pot calipers in ‘RS500’ red with 356mm grooved discs and Ferodo DS2500 pads at the front, original rear disc set-up with uprated pads, braided brake lines all round
BC Racing coilovers all round
Wheels and tyres
BBS CHR 20inch alloys in black with 19in Rota Grid alloys with winter tyres for winter running
RS500 matt black body wrap, genuine carbon fibre rear diffuser, rear spoiler, bonnet vents, fog light surrounds, and headlight eyebrows, Fly Eyes headlight film, front lower splitter in carbon-effect wrap, tinted windows, black Milltek exhaust tips, carbon effect graphics, matt black vinyl sun strip, private ‘direct’ numberplate, black Milltek exhaust tips.
Full custom interior re-trim with Nappa leather and Alcantara details with red stitching, full Alcantara dash re-trim, heated seat conversion, custom ‘RS500’ and ‘Optimus’ embroidery in seats, steering wheel, sun visors, and parcel shelf trimmed in carbon-effect leather, VIPER remote-start alarm system with iPhone connectivity, carbon fibre door sill protectors, all Ford badges replaced with black/carbon decals.
Simon at SF car-trim, Chris at Streamline Carbon, Kevin at Triple R Composites, and last but not least Mrs Thompson