2003 Ford Focus ZX3 SVT

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2003 Ford Focus ZX3 SVT
RCR Ford Focus ZX3 SVT Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Ford
Model Focus ZX3 SVT
Year 2003
Owner (ZX3 SVT #1) Salvatore Lopresti
Owner (ZX3 SVT #2) Vincent
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season Post-LA
Air Date August 4, 2014

This is the 170hp hatchback that finally bested the pompous Honda Civic Si. Ford Focus ZX3 SVT: The official car of Senior Skip Day and the churning white froth of teen apathy and the crisis that arises between individuality and conformity.

This review is followed by the unscripted, extra video entitled The Focus SVT's Unfathomable Wiper Stalk.


2003 Ford Focus ZX3 SVT: the official car of ‘I go to Villanova’.
INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN (please find original tune!)
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little Euro right now, 
Seems like you don’t know,
But drive a while, and maybe then, you’ll see, 
A different ZX3.
The ZX3 SVT is the North American version of the Focus ST at the time. We didn’t get the ‘real’ ST until just recently.

The full designation of this yellow car is ‘2003 Ford Focus ZX3 SVT EAP’.

[TEXT: As above]

You understand this [Ford] part, but after that comes a lot of designations: ZX3 tells you two things: ‘Z’ says that the engine is Ford’s Zetec plant, ‘X3’ tells you how many doors the car has - and…rear hatches are considered doors these days - ‘SVT’ stands for ‘Special Vehicles Team’, and ‘EAP’ stands for ‘European Appearance Package’.

2003 was not a stable year of Pennsylvania or any other state. Our governor at the time, Ed Rendell, would blast his motorcade at a hundred miles per hour on the turnpike between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. If you wanted to upload a video in 2003, you had to know someone with server space. You also needed to know how to use an FTP client – nothing too crazy, just a drag and a drop thing, but there was some basic HTML to know. Dreamweaver Microsoft front-page.

Anyway, the SVT’s Zetec was America’s answer to Honda’s V-TEC – a Yankee charge for our own moon-shot to naturally-asperated high-(?) Nirvana. And we won! For a short time, Ford beat Honda at their NA game in 2003. The ZX3 SVT made 170 horsepower, ten more than the Civic Si’s 160. The engine’s power comes on so stealthily, it takes you by surprise, like getting ambushed with a birthday song at Red Lobster.

Right, what’s up with this black Focus? Understand that when a car is good…it’s faked. Cloned. You know, do up a base model, so at a glance, it looks like a higher trim. Any good car is cloned: Buick Regals made to look like Grand Nationals; base Neons swapped with hoods and grilles to mimic an SRT4; and horrific misuse of VTEC stickers. Why should anything be so different here? If men are willing to turn Pontiac Fieros into Ferraris, what’s to stop a few wheel swaps on a Focus?

But the Special Vehicles Team did more than one-up Honda: they buried the 1990s and the notion that all you need to seduce the youth was battery-draining amplifiers and neon lights. You needed tight springs; arresting-hook brakes; Recaro seats; and enough gears to make sure you’re constantly steering with one hand. You know, your forearm cantilevered over the steering wheel to twelve o’clock position, veins visible, as you give your best-knowing Vin Diesel glance to that Civic driver telegraphing his inevitable loss of everything he holds dear in his twenty-year-old life.

After all, it was all going to pieces, wasn’t it? John Carey was the Democrats’ best hope, a drooping-faced, long-winded bore. We, the vast Petco parking lot of twenty-nothings were out on our own in a way we never known before. The future was unknown in those days, and the only thing we knew for sure that wasn’t a lie was an endless Middle-East meat-grinder, and we knew we were headed there. And why not?

[TEXT: And why not?]

Going to war meant three square meals and a cot, and a better wage than retail provided you make it out alive with most of your sanity intact. Sad times, dark times. But even in those dark times, there was this – the ZX3 SVT. It was more than a peppy hatchback, it was that winking candle of American Exceptionalism, still not extinguished.

[TEXT, YELLOW: Focus SVT: A winking candle of American Exceptionalism, still not extinguished.]

It’s the official car of breaking out on your own, and welcoming the uncertainty with the same nervous joy of seeing your skip day. Driving this car gives you back that teenage feeling that you’re getting away with something NAUGHTY!
I’m not crazy, I’m just a little Euro right now, 
Seems like you don’t know,
But drive a while, and maybe then, you’ll see, 
A different ZX3.

All my front and rear lights are HID,
But please, try not to judge me,
My Zetec makes this an SVT,
And trim is the EAP.

[MR. REGULAR:] I’m not saying that in front of those kids!

*nervous laughter*

[MR. REGULAR:] (impersonating ‘those kids’) So this guy just came up in this yellow car with a GoPro on his head, yelled “my dick did this!” and ran away.
[TEXT: Next week on Regular Car Reviews…]

*soft heartbeat, bumper shot of the 2014 Focus ST*