Ford Focus RS (Mk1) | High Mile Club

The original Focus RS is one of the greatest fast Fords ever; best buy one, then, to actually go and drive

By Matt Bird / Monday, December 14, 2020

Britain's apparent obsession with classic fast Fords is a fascinating situation. Because, let's be honest here, there are a lot of distinctly average performance cars out there with very punchy price tags attached to them thanks to the Blue Oval on the nose. What once seemed a momentary fillip for values has apparently become the norm.

To some extent, that can be understood. Those desperate to relive their juvenile days with a throwback hot hatch will see how few remain, remember how fond they were of the car 30 years ago, and pay what's being asked for a trip down memory lane. But those cars, surely, are about the wearing of rose-tinted spectacles on a sunny Sunday. There are a lot of XRs, RS Turbos and the like best suited now just to collections, because they ain't that great to drive.

Problem is, however, that fast Ford tax has now found its way to the really good cars, those genuinely class leading hot hatches that had time and effort lavished upon them to create the very best. They're being pampered and protected, used sparingly (if at all) in the hope of one day turning a profit. It's a lot more understandable for the cars that were crap to drive; much less so when they're exceptional.

Take the first Ford Focus RS. Arguably it was the car that laid down the blueprint for the modern front-wheel drive hot hatch, introducing very expensive componentry – Quaife differential, AP Racing brakes, Sachs dampers, Brembo brakes and so on – into the humble shopping car. And creating an icon in the process. It's a recipe that delivered Renaultsport success soon after, and continues for Ford to this day – see cars like the Fiesta ST Edition. Hot hatches before the RS were nowhere near as intense or as exotic – the Rallye Peugeots stripped weight rather than adding costly upgrades – and the genre hasn't really looked back since.

However, as a blue Fast Ford produced in a limited numbers, many have been hoarded away. This despite it commonly being accepted as one of the truly brilliant hot hatches, some torque steer notwithstanding. Yet 18 years after launch there are still Focus RS Mk1s for sale at £30k (or more) with four figure mileages (or less) – and what are you meant to do with one of those? It would be a Focus to treat like the rarest of sports cars, and a collection almost seems to do its talents a disservice.

So how about this one? An RS with two owners from new and a pretty comprehensive service history, it has recorded 116,000 miles since 2003. Which is almost 40,000 more than any other similar RS in the classifieds. It's unmodified, too, which is quite rare, and saves thousands over a lower mileage example. In fact, this looks in fine condition: the Imperial Blue paint appears without blemish, the Sparco seats have sagged only a little and the lovely OZ wheels are without visible damage. Its condition belies its usage, surely.

The MOT history isn't flawless, though nothing out of the ordinary – you may have heard Fords of a certain era are prone to some rust here and there, for example. Otherwise there's much to be encouraged by, including the low keeper count, plenty of old paperwork and the promise of a fresh service for the new buyer. Which should mean, in theory, that the next owner can enjoy the Focus RS how it was intended and in a way that it never could be kept cooped up – i.e. out on the road, being one of the best fast Fords ever built. With the Focus RS unlikely to return in recognisable format, the original is never going to be out of demand. And, despite what the naysayers might suggest about the mileage this certainly looks a good'un from here.

See the original advert here

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