Building on a Budget- First $1,000 spent on your Focus ST — Panda Motorworks
Panda Motorworks 124 Trade Center Drive
ST. Peters, MO 63376
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Building on a Budget- First $1,000 spent on your Focus ST

Building on a Budget- First $1,000 spent on your Focus ST

We are beginning a new blog series that we are calling Building on a Budget. The goal of this series is to provide some guidance and insight on what we would do to modify a Focus ST within certain parameters. In most instances, costs will be in the same ballpark for Fiesta ST and Focus RS. We will be looking into 3 separate categories: Engine performance, handling, and overall package! Everything included in these lists are available at!

You can get a lot of engine performance gains on the Focus ST with $1,000, so we will start our list here. First on our list is a new drop-in filter. These can be had relatively cheap. Our 2 favorite options are the AEM DryFlow ($39.99) or the Cobb High Flow air filter ($59). The Cobb filter is oiled, where the AEM is not. We prefer the non-oiled AEM option because of the ease of use and lack of maintenance. The next item on the list is the Radium Engineering PCV catch can ($239.95). The catch can is a very crucial element when modifying any EcoBoost car.  Catch cans prevent oil buildup in the intake and intercooler system walls, throttle body, intake manifold, and other various bits keeping major components clean and working properly. Following the catch can, we would recommend Pre-gapped NGK 1 step colder plugs, gapped to .028 ($45). The upgraded plugs will provide you with a smoother idle while also cutting down on misfires. Lastly, to tie everything together we recommend picking up a Cobb Accessport paired with a Custom Panda Tune ($599). A tune will really wake your car up and help it live up to it's fullest. 

We tune with our 3 pillars in mind and in this order: Reliability, drivability, and power. First and foremost is Reliability. We want you to be able to enjoy your car day in and day out, so we tune accordingly. Finding the level that your car is happiest at leads us to our next pillar: Drivability. Throughout our 6 years tuning EcoBoost motors, we've found that cars with higher peak HP/TQ figures aren't always the fastest. It's how the car makes the power that makes all the difference. Also, when you chase numbers you can be left with a car that is terrible drive. The last thing we tune for is power. We tune for the maximum amount of power we can make, while still abiding by the first two pillars.

If you would rather address handling before power, don't worry we still got you covered! There are many options that we could go with staying under the $1000 price range, but we will focus on what will be the biggest bang for your buck. To achieve this under $1,000 we recommend going with the Whiteline Stage 1 Grip Series Kit ($810.39) paired with a Cobb Rear motor Mount ($159). Included in the Stage 1 kit from Whiteline is lowering springs, front & rear adjustable sway bars, adjustable sway bar endlinks, and all of the hardware needed for install. The springs provide a drop of 35mm to help close the wheel gap and lower the center of gravity of the car, which in turn helps reduce body roll. The car will corner very flat with the addition of the sway bars. By inserting a Cobb Rear Motor mount, you are upgrading one of the weak links in the Focus ST. The upgraded motor mount will help reduce the notorious torque steer while not stiffening the car up beyond daily driving NVH. If you're willing to exceed the budget by just a little bit, we highly recommend upgrading to a set of Silver's NeoMax Coilovers ($1,095).

If you're not looking to focus on one specific area, and instead looking to upgrade the overall experience of your car this final list is for you! Everything in this list has been previously mentioned with the exception of one item. That item is Whiteline Performance Lowering Springs ($251.32) They are included in the Stage 1 Grip Series Kit, but for the overall package the springs will provide a nice cosmetic drop and small bump in handling performance. Also on the overall package list, we recommend the Cobb rear motor mount to decrease torque steer and help put the power down. Last but not least, we recommend the Accessport with a custom Panda Tune. Even on a stock car, a custom tune will provide a night and day difference in performance! We see average gains in the ballpark of 30hp and 60 ft-lbs/tq. 

There are many things you can do to your Focus ST with $1,000, but if it were up to us, this is how we would do it! As always, feel free to reach out to a Panda Motorworks representative for parts bundle discounts and price matching! We offer Affirm and PayPal Credit as some of our financing options. Links for all products will be listed below.


Accessport with Custom Tune

Cobb High Flow Air Filter

AEM DryFlow Filter

Radium Engineering PCV Catch Can

Pre-Gapped 1 Step Colder spark plugs

Whiteline Stage 1 Grip Series Package

Whiteline Performance Lowering Springs

Cobb Rear Motor Mount


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