By now you’ve figured out that each of the three Focus STs that makes up the bulk of the Project ST campaign was destined to wear some form of our fifteen52 Tarmac wheel design. And why not? If they’re good enough for Ken Block’s 650-hp Fiestas, then we knew they’d do well here. Or something like that.
With Focus STanced we figured that a basic motorsport wheel just wasn’t going to cut it. More than anything, the stance scene is all about having the right wheels and tires. It’s full of enthusiasts spending big money on what are often rare or unusual wheels, and as often as not, those wheels are multi-piece forged items. With that in mind we designed the Focus STanced around a set of 19″ three-piece Tarmac TR forged wheels. We understand the big and blocky thick-ringed Tarmac center isn’t for everyone, but we really dig the way the design suits this car. With the wheel centers painted to match the car’s Oxford White exterior, we wanted to bring an almost ’80s-style monochromatic vibe to the car, and we couldn’t be happier with the results. We chose a face-mount assembly designed to maximize the amount of visible wheel center, while the smaller outer lips make for a flusher look.
We build our 3-piece wheels pretty much from scratch, using raw 6061 aluminum forgings and custom old-school-style forged aluminum slant lips and barrels. Our in-house engineer translates our designs into Solid Works CAD files and from there it’s a matter of programming a series of lathes and five-axis CNC mills to machine the solid forgings into unique fifteen52 wheel centers. We offer pretty much any kind of finish you can imagine (from any available color powder-coat to brushed and tinted clear coat to fully polished) and of course we can also accommodate pretty much any diameter, width, and PCD. Last but certainly not least, everything from the materials to the machine work to the hardware to the assembly is handled in good ol’ sunny southern California.
As is the trend these days, we’re running a staggered set-up, with the front wheels measuring 19×8.5 and the rears 19×9.5. Offsets were chosen to place the wheels at the very edges of the wheel arches, while still allowing an amount of tuck when the car is aired-out. We actually hadn’t considered the extra negative front camber we’d be offered by the custom Accuair performance air suspension system, so we might add a pair of small spacers to the front wheels to bring them out a little, or more flush as the popular saying goes.
We know right now a portion of you is asking, why run a staggered set-up on a front-wheel-drive car? Hell, we know some of you are probably actually even yelling that question out loud (yeah, we read your Facebook comments). The simple and honest answer here is because it looks cool. If you haven’t figured it out already, while we’ve built our Focus STanced with the goal to maintain or improve every bit of the performance envelope and DNA Ford gave it, much of the current stanced scene is based on a car’s appearance rather than any supposed performance, and to us that means we definitely need to nail the finer aesthetic points. You may not agree with that kind of perspective, but since there are thousands and thousands of enthusiast who do, we’ll kindly ask you to keep an open mind here and understand that with the Project ST campaign we’re building three different cars in three very different ways for three very good reasons. For what it’s worth, when the opportunity arises to get the Focus STanced out on a road course, we’ll be using different (non-staggered) wheels and tires, so in that respect we plan to have our cake (stance) and eat (enjoy) it too.
For tires once again we’ve chosen Pirellis – 215/35-19 and 225/35-19 P ZERO Neros, to be exact. These sizes allow for a slight tire stretch and in the stanced scene stretched tires are an integral part of the look most owners go for. We’re big fans of the P ZERO range of tires. From the Trofeos we’re using on TrackSTer to the P ZEROs (no sub-name) on Block STyle to these Neros, each version of the famous P ZERO model offers a unique set of qualities. Pirelli acted as our consultant in this regard and when we outlined for them what duties each of the three Project ST Focuses was being built for, they recommended three different versions, and we must admit they nailed it. TrackSTer has the grippiest tires Pirelli makes, Block STyle has a great combination of dry and wet grip, and STanced has a performance tire that also offers a great blend of low noise and longer tread life.
A couple weeks ago we debuted the Focus STanced at the Ford Racing booth during the Formula Drift event at Long Beach, CA. Crowd response was excellent. We’ll be taking the car to lots more events this year, so we’ll see if we keep getting good props for our wheel selection, but regardless, we’re pretty stoked about how the car looks. Check out the linked small gallery, with photos taken by our good friend, Linhbergh. You’ll notice we’ve added an Inno bike rack (article coming soon), and while it’s currently bike-less, we’ve got some very cool news due on that front in the aforementioned upcoming article (we’re doing a collab with a some big names in the BMX world). We have the interior to tackle next, so stay tuned for more updates.