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Video Review: Shelby Focus ST
A limited-edition hotter hatch

Jeff Glucker August 15, 2013 Featured, Ford Reviews, Reviews, Video Reviews 23 Comments

shelby-focus-st

When you hear Shelby you either think “Cobra” or “Mustang”. That’s a fact of life for pretty much everyone, unless you actual name is Shelby. Well outlier-Shelby, I have news for you. It’s not just about you, and it’s also not just about those aforementioned machines either. Shelby American has been hard at work churning out a variety of machines for a few years now.

Yes, most of them have been based on that fairly well-known pony car with GT badging. There was a time, however, when Shelby also set out to tune a slew of other items, such as Dodge sedans and hatchbacks. Google “Shelby GLHS” if you’re a young person… we’ll wait.

Now Shelby has come back to the hot hatch market. It’s coming back fighting too, because the base car starts out life as a Ford Focus ST. Add more power, better brakes and suspension, and what do you get?

Click past the break to find out.

As I said above, it’s not cheap but it certainly competes right in the wheelhouse of other sporting machines costing the same amount or more. Additionally, it’s an actual limited-edition machine whereas the others are not (in the case of the Golf R, VW actually wound up building as many vehicles as demand required).

Shelby-Focus-ST-front-detail

The Shelby Focus ST is not a faultless car. Really though, no car exists on this planet that is without fault. Yes it has torque steer, and yes it’s expensive. It’s also pretty wonderful at the same time, and you’ll be hard pressed to run into another one out on your local street. This is a manic hot hatch that can waltz through corners with an easily controlled hint of oversteer, and it produces a sonorous barking tone at the same time.

If you’re a boy racer with cash to burn, it’s come time to pony up that dough for the evolution of the Shelby hot hatch.

[Images copyright 2013 Redusernab/Jeff Glucker]

  • MVEilenstein

    :17-:21. Hilarious.

    Don't forget the strangest Shelby ever made. http://redusernab.info/2013/06/22/hot-rods-hogs-19

  • HTWHLS

    Ugly color..and why always the hatchback?? I bought an SE for a commuter. The ST was a lot more money and not necessary for a commuter however, I did ask FORD if they would offer this on the sedan version. No.

    Oh well..38K ..nope.

    • Serow

      I can only assume that its because hot sedan doesn't have the same ring to it.

    • I Think Not

      Because compact sedans are a thing that should not exist at all in the first place, and are almost universally styled as an afterthought for the US market.

  • OA5599

    According to the Shelby website, the base Shelbyization runs $15K on top of the donor car. For that price, you get a cat back exhaust system, front brake upgrades, rear rotors, a shifter, wheels and tires, whatever comes in the suspension package, and some decorations and Shelby branding. Engine improvements, other than those stemming from the Borla exhaust, are optional. So is adjustable suspension. …

    Contrast that with the GLHS, which had an MSRP under $11K, including the car itself. It was about a $4K step-up from a GLH. For the money, you got a horsepower bump of about 20% (and a starting point to add the S60 kit that would double the horsepower of the Turbo I), a thousand bucks' worth of Konis, serious rubber (for the day) , and the opportunity to outperform cars costing 4 times as much.

    <img src=";

    If I had $38K to spend on a Shelby Focus, I'd buy 3 GLHS's and a stockpile of door handles instead.

    • Eric Rood

      Save a little extra for surgery on your wrists when the GLHS snaps them with torque-steer. I'd spend the cash on a Shelby Omni for the street and another for LeMons/Chump duty.

      • OA5599

        Full disclosure: I have already dailied one of these, for a couple of years in the 90's. Slightly modified from stock by the addition of a Stage II computer, cat-back exhaust, and K&N. Quarter mile trap speeds were in the 101 to 104 mph range, but on the street tires it wore, I never was able to figure out how to get traction and boost on the same run.

        At any rate, torque steer wasn't really an issue. Much better than some lower-performance FWD cars I've owned.

    • Felis_Concolor

      Don't forget a supply of the blackout inserts for the door handles.

      The torque steer isn't that bad, especially once you add a Quaiffe diff to the mix. As stated earlier, a lot of other automakers were still using unequal length half shafts on their minisports.

      It's amusing to read the revisionism rampant on Mustang boards regarding the GLHS and its exploits; it sounds like a lot of them suffered through similar drubbings in the 80s and 90s. I'm not surprised how many automakers were caught flat-footed by the GLH Turbo and GLHS, but I am surprised how long it took them to adequately respond to the turbo L-bodies. Sadly the SCCA kowtowed to the petulant whining of the rest of the pack and bumped the Omnis from C-class up to B and then A instead of telling the other racers "I guess you made a strategic mistake; come back with a more capable chassis next season."

  • Hey Chief Blooger…nice review on a nice member of the ORNCH car society. I would suspect these are one of few offerings available today that will become a collector in the future.

  • JayP2112

    Shelby has needed to expand past Mustangs to survive. Even the old man said that. But $15k packages aren't going to win over this market. The guys shopping the hatches would get an R, Evo or STI.

    Who beyond the diehard Shelby fans would pay $40k?

    • RegalRegalia

      Yeah, sti or evo for sure at that price. Why not sell cars instead, Ford?

  • Wiremaster

    Heehee, you said 20" wheels while there was a shot of an 18". Oops.

    • RegalRegalia

      Was gonna say, 20" is Bentley and Range Rover territory and Donkland.

      • Wiremaster

        And Porsche 911s. Oh wait, that's the same territory.

  • Van_Sarockin

    STAND UP STRAIGHT WHEN YOU PIMP FOR THAT RIDE! Dang, the man is dead, wrap up the business and don't prostitute yourselves even worse than he already did. Great, there's a loud Focus with ugly paint and a stupid price. If Ford had the balls to do a decent development program, there might be a really nice Focus to be found under allt hat noise.

    • RegalRegalia

      Yeah but it's a business when they die, they fail. Not by committing seppuku.

  • RegalRegalia

    Chef Blooger, we need to talk fashion.
    Edit: Says some dick on the internet.

  • CABEZAGRANDE

    My biggest problem with the car is that they are charging $15k for maybe $8000 worth of actual go fast bits. I'd much rather just buy an ST and make all these upgrades myself and not have all the ugly shouty exterior nonsense. $25k for the car, that's $2000 worth of engine upgrades (and i'd rather get one of the tunes out there that's making a LOT more power than that), $1200 worth of brakes, $2000 of wheel and tire, $1500 worth of suspension, and a $300 shifter. So that's less than $32k for a car the will perform just as well or better.

    • JayP2112

      The 2007 Shelby GT was in that same category. $10k of parts/labor for a car that was marginally better than a base GT. (I'm gonna get some hate mail now.) Intake, tune, some suspension parts and lower rear end gearing. The rest was shiny knobs and a plaque. Nothing that you couldn't get out of the Ford Racing catalog. 3 years later, used Shelby GTs could be had at a $2k premium over a standard GT.

      • CABEZAGRANDE

        The only thing that saved the Shelby GT in my eyes (even though I quite liked the mods, they just weren't worth the price) was that they DOMINATED (and still do) F-Stock in SCCA. Since they were a factory package, all the mods that you couldn't do to your GT were suddenly legal, and it wasn't enough better to bump it into the next class. Much like the JCW Minis in D-stock, they perfectly straddled the line at the very peak of their class, and since it was a factory package it was legal. I always hated the Shelby GTs because I couldn't mod my 06 GT up to their level, so anytime one would show up they'd beat me (mostly due to those 3.73s).

  • I went in to my time with this car expecting to hate it… I even said as much on the podcast. I was impressed with parts of it, and once I compared it to other machines based on performance and price, I could see a small market for it.

    Yes, it's expensive for not a lot of go-fast – that's for damn sure. Still, Shelby made a good car more fun and, factoring in the rarity as well, it's actually a decent value proposition compared to the competition.

  • BobWellington

    I'd love to pay way more to make my Focus ST ugly.

    I'm sorry, but this is just dumb. The fake carbon fiber looks impressively tacky, the graphics are barftastic, and the actual performance upgrades don't warrant half the cost.

    • Joe Btfsplk

      It looks like a high-speed road cone.

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