2003 FORD Focus RS

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2003 FORD Focus RS


After 33 years and six generations of their compact family car being called the Escort, the Ford Motor Company decided to come up with a new, more global name for their radically different model. Launched to the market in 1998, the Focus was one of the first mainstream Ford cars where driver handling was given equal importance to engine performance and aesthetics in the design and development.

Inevitably, given its predecessor’s rallying achievements, the Focus was soon pitched into the fight for the 1999 World Rally Championship in the hands of Colin McRae who was joined the following year by Carlos Sainz.

Inspired by the duo’s WRC successes, Ford launched the high-performance Focus RS (Rallye Sport) in 2002. Powered by a 2.0L turbocharged Duratec engine, the car developed 212bhp giving acceleration to 62mph in around 6 seconds and a top speed of 144mph. A limited run of 4501 cars were built and were only available in Europe. The UK market accounted for nearly half of the total production.

The RS improved on the already much-admired handling of the Focus through the addition of a Quaife limited-slip differential, Brembo ventilated discs and a host of other equipment upgrades from aftermarket rally team suppliers such as Sachs dampers, OZ Racing alloy wheels and Sparco bucket seats. Reportedly, only around 30% of the components on the Focus RS were shared with the standard Mk1.

The RS was also given a more aggressive look externally with beefed up front valance, flared wheel arches, side skirts and a rear roof spoiler which was much more restrained than the large wings that featured on the RS Escorts. In a twist on Ford’s early history, owners of the new Focus RS could have any colour they liked as long as it was Imperial Blue!

The Vehicle

This lovely Ford Focus RS Mk1 - build number 1429 - left the factory on 5 February 2003 and was first registered in the Bournemouth area just over a month later. It didn’t stay on the south coast for long though, as the early services were done by Perry’s Ford in High Wycombe.

In 2007, the RS made its way to North Wales, along the A5 between Corwen and Betws-y-coed, where it remained in the same ownership for nearly 10 years before being acquired by its fourth owner, just a few minutes down the road in Bala in 2016.

Around a year ago, it was bought at auction by our vendor as a long-term investment, but circumstances have changed. Neither he, nor the previous owner have put many miles on the car but have kept it maintained and MOT’d and looking absolutely fabulous.

Prior to consigning it with us, our vendor prepared it for sale by addressing a few small car park dents and got the wheels refurbished and repainted in the original “Moondust Silver” - a special order from Ford. He also took it to a show recently where there were other Focus RS Mk1s and he said he was pretty pleased to see that it more than held its own against its contemporaries.

On the Outside

The Imperial Blue paintwork looks really great - especially in the sunshine which we’ve been having lately. Despite being a mountain-dweller for much of its life, this car has evidently been garaged and well looked after. Certainly the regular servicing suggests diligent ownership.

Aside from a small crack on the lower offside nose and the odd stone chip and blemish here and there, this Focus RS looks in such a lovely condition considering that it is nearly 20 years old. It doesn’t appear to have been repainted, or if it has been it was some time ago as the stone guards on the rear arches are still present and they are almost impossible to replace.

All credit to the development team for the Focus RS that they didn’t follow too closely the design practices of their 80s and 90s predecessors and go all out on body kit and unsightly bulges. They have managed to tastefully enhance the clean lines of the original Focus making the RS appear more sporty and powerful without being grotesque.

The newly refurbished and repainted 18” OZ Racing alloy wheels are unmarked, and are all shod with matching Michelin Pilot Sport 3 tyres. The big, silver-painted Brembo brake callipers stand out behind the rims.

On the Inside

There’s very little to be said about the inside of the car other than it is very good. The characteristic tricolor scheme of blue, black and grey upholstery, carpets and trim is all original and in a very tidy condition. Amidst all this blue and black, the feature stainless steel gear knob and knurled handbrake really stand out, as does the carbon-fibre finish on the transmission tunnel.

The body-hugging Sparco bucket seats trimmed in Midnight Black leather and alcantara with contrasting Racing Blue stripes look in great condition with just mild wear to the alcantara on the bolsters where’d you’d expect. The door cards are tidy and the two-tone rear seats look all but unused.

The steering wheel, though, has a little more wear around the rim although it is not in bad order given the amount of spirited cornering this car most likely did around the mountains of Snowdonia.

The carpets are clean and tidy and are protected by the costly-to-replace original RS grey floor mats. Looking up, the headlining is also in a clean and tight condition. The original CD radio doesn’t seem to be working, nor does the fan but the vendor reports that everything else is functioning as it should.


Under the bonnet - accessed by the idiosyncratic behind-the-badge two-step keylock - the engine and ancillaries present in a very original condition with fews signs that any aftermarket “dressing up” has been done as is often the way with fast Fords - maybe just the silicone hoses. If a new owner is inclined to show the car and is less concerned with originality, this is one area they can enjoy spending their time and money on with very little work to do on the existing mechanicals. The engine bay, bonnet and surrounds appear straight and free of any significant rust.

Everything underneath the car appears clean and intact. There’s a fair bit of established rust that can be seen on the front subframe, plus suspension and steering components but nothing that worried the inspector at its recent MOT. The rear looks to have fared better and the underbody panels all seem to have a good coating of protective underseal.

The rear hatch operates and holds up perfectly and the boot space presents very well; the carpets being tidy and undamaged and the floor underneath clean and rust free. The Focus RS came with a jack but no spare tyre, despite the wheel well - instead sealant and an air compressor were supplied, housed in a foam insert. Such repair kits aren’t always popular but reading through the many forums for the Focus RS you’ll get plenty of advice on sourcing and carrying a real spare.

As well as numerous glory-shots against a graffitied and rusting oil tank, the extensive photo gallery with this listing gives a detailed account of the great condition of the car but you can always use the ‘Contact Seller’ button above to arrange a visit to The Market HQ to view the car up close and personal.

History Highlights

The car comes with a handful of invoices for maintenance and parts, several past MOT reports and an original RS-embossed folder containing the owners book pack including the service history log showing the following stamped services:

Mar 2004 - 15,390 - Perry’s Ford, High Wycombe

Jun 2005 - 30,420 - a/a

Aug 2006 - 43,014 - Chalfonts Motor Co, Bucks

Mar 2008 - 61,120 - Ceir Cymru, North Wales

Mar 2009 - 65,228 - a/a

Mar 2010 - 68,945 - a/a

Mar 2012 - 78,616 - a/a

Apr 2013 - 81,243 - a/a

Apr 2014 - 83,993 - a/a

Apr 2015 - 86,531 - a/a

Jul 2016 - 88,590 - a/a (inc timing belt)

Jun 2018 - 89,625 - a/a

The Focus RS has a current MOT valid until May 2023. The online MOT history shows that since the last stamped service above the car has been driven fewer than 300 miles.

The vendor reports that the brake discs and pads look fairly recent - at least mileage-wise - with no lipping on the discs at all.

As well as the hard-to-find RS floor mats and RS book folder, the car also comes with its original RS security key.

What We Think

We’re looking after this Focus RS during the auction and it would have been rude of us not to have taken it for a short but enjoyable test drive. We are pleased to report that it is everything you would imagine it to be, a great driver’s car with a responsive engine, rorty exhaust note with a bubbly overrun, precise gear-change and taut handling.

You won’t need us to tell you what Ford’s back catalogue of XR/RS/ST/Cosworth models such as Escorts and Sierras have done price-wise in recent years - some of the values achieved have been incredible.

But the Focus RS Mk1 asking price curve has yet to go ballistic. Examples in good condition like the one we have here are holding strongly in the top-teens and so we expect this RS to sell between £15,000 and £20,000.

There are around 450 Focus RS Mk1s currently registered for the road in the UK, with about 1200 SORN. This car represents a great opportunity to get your hands on what promises to be a future fast-Ford superstar.

And just to add a bit more spice to an already hot car, this one is selling with NO RESERVE, so there’s absolutely no excuse not to put in your best bid and maybe come away with a bargain.

Viewing is always encouraged. The car is located at our Abingdon headquarters; we are open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm and to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing to make an appointment. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 90025
  • Chassis Number: WF0BXXGCDB3C83934
  • Engine: 1988
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Imperial Blue
  • Interior: Blue/Black Leather/Alcantara
  • Estimated Price: £15,000 - £20,000

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