ST7 Part 2- Thank you

Hello everyone!

This second post to the swap was supposed to be about fixing the car, although I may have to live with it being at 90% for a while because some of the issues still haven’t been fixed. I wish I had the time to fix them all, but my job has me away from home all week.

The weekend after the swap was spent with Brice, Luis (with the super slammed Miata), Thomas ( with a widebody Infinity), and Jose ( with a BMW 328i). We cut the massive stock resonator off the exhaust and welded in a new Vibrant resonator. It is stupid loud now, and it ends at the axle. I plan on finishing it up at a shop sometime soon so that I have dual tips coming through the center exit at the rear.

I also paid a visit to my great friend Tim (who worked with me at Oreilly’s), at The Dub Doctor in Orland to refill my air conditioning system. I got to show him the swap, and give him a ride! We chatted for a few hours, he showed me his awesome vehicles which include a Jetta and Jeep, and we caught each other up on our lives. It was a much needed car guy therapy session.

The following week, I contacted Fifteen52 as they had posted about the Hoonigan Club Days meet at the Donut Garage in Anaheim. I asked Geoff, who is one of the reps at Fifteen52, if I could somehow show-off my car there. After a few emails back and forth, we finally came to an agreement. I would get to show the car off! How epic, right? He couldn’t promise me to get me on the dock, but he said would try. He said I’d be able to show the car somewhere in the meet space for sure. That was enough for me.

I was on the road working, so I had hoped that dispatch would get me home on time, and thankfully they did. I knew funds would be tight, as I had made some big payments to some bills. Although, I had the budget set up so that I would be okay.

So, one thing I really wanted to do before I made another 8 hour trip was get the ABS issue fixed. Kyle had sent me a brand new body control module, because we were sure that it was the fix to the issue. It got there on Thursday, and Friday was the day for me to leave to LA. So, Friday morning when I got home from work, I went to pay a visit to my other old O’reilly co-workers, and friends Alejandro and Miguel a visit.

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We got the car on the lift and immediately began to pull the necessary modules to begin programming.

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We tried programming the new body control module, and were able to do it successfully. Although, the ABS issue persisted and we could not figure out why. Well, we were just about to just reprogram every module, including the PCM. Alejandro asked me about three times if I was sure I wanted to do this because there was a chance that it could brick everything. I said yes out of frustration, but I am glad Alejandro said no. He would have much rather had me make an appearance at the Hoonigan meet, since the car drove just fine. Miguel brought up the point that people want to see the completed swap, and that they won’t be asking questions like, “Does your speedometer work?” He was right.

Then it hit me… I’m sure my longtime followers remember that I had this same issue when the old transmission went in for repairs. Well, I had remembered that the dealership had told me that there was a short to ground somewhere in the wiring under the passenger seat.

Well, I told Alejandro this, and we immediately halted the project. We put everything back together, and we went out and cleaned our cars together. We chatted for a bit and then I was off. Well, sort of. It was homecoming week in Willows, and I had to watch the band perform, since my sisters are in band. Also, shout-out to Keenan for winning homecoming king!

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After halftime, I was off! Wait, no not yet. I had a co-pilot! Sir Isaac was to accompany on my journey to the meet. He had asked to go, and didn’t mind the company. So, I swooped by his house and we left. This time for sure!

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Funny thing… He was “supposed” to be my co-pilot. He says he sleeps so much because he’s a high school student and has no stress. Must be nice, but I had just chugged about 3 Red Bulls and ate candy as well, so I wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon. An hour before we got to the Grapevine, I decided to nap, so I could get a few hours of sleep in. So, I let Isaac drive. He was very fortunate to be able to drive, as I don’t let just anyone drive the car now. He drives a manual Jeep, so him driving the Focus wasn’t a big deal. I trusted him enough that I actually fell asleep.

Well, I closed my eyes and then woke up in what seemed like an instant. It was actually an hour down the road. He ran out of gas going down the Grapevine! “Didn’t you look down at the gauge?”

“No.”

We laughed, and then we decided to try and coast down as far as we could. We made it about a mile, and ended up at exit 199. I called AAA who got a tow truck out to me as fast as they could. Thankfully, my amazing mother had renewed the AAA membership two weeks prior so I could tow the Focus to the dealership. Love you, Ma!

After that, we continued our drive to meet the Fifteen52 crew at Mountune USA. I was very excited, and had no idea what was in store for the day.

IMG_2024 IMG_2026After a night of driving, I was expecting not to make it early, but Isaac and I were seriously the first ones there! Kyle showed up a bit after, and only for a short time because he needed to wash his car. He was back before any of the other Fifteen52 guys had shown up.

One of the Mountune workers had shown up next, and opened up the gate and main shop door. He allowed me to go inside and check everything out. Pictures were taken later on of course because more people had shown up and that is when I got the shot above. The following pictures were just shots of everything going on pre-meet.

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This little Escort had us all in awe. It was so loud too! I was excited to see it and little did I know it would be joining us on the cruise over to the Hoonigan Donut Garage.

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Geoff had rolled up and I was eager to meet him. He was a really chill dude, and I was glad to meet a Fifteen52 rep. Of course, his Fiesta wouldn’t be complete without the full Fifteen52 makeover. Wheels, lip kit, and wing extension.

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When they rolled this beauty out, everyone flocked over to it. There is something about th new RS that just has you admiring. It has to be the Nitrous Blue paint. It’s so hard to capture it on camera. You really do have to see it in person.

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After I saw all of the cars, we had some time before we all cruised over to the meet spot. I walked back into the Mountune USA headquarters and started taking pictures of everything. The place looked as if a car guy decided to be an interior designer. It was fantastic!

We all cruised to the meeting spot. It was all very fast paced because well, we are all boosted save for the Escort. The Escort of course, led the way and was FAST. It sounded PHENOMENAL.

As soon as we got there, I now knew why people weren’t always going there. The place was in a rather interesting and dare I say sketchy area of LA. I wasn’t worried rather just more aware than I normally am of my surroundings. The gates were shut, and they were having us wait until they got things ready. Once they opened the gates, we filed in and parked our cars the way they suggested. Thankfully, Kyle and I were displayed up on the dock!

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I was of course, put on Snapchat. Isaac snuck this one in at some point after we parked.

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We got settled in and I began to get some pictures. Of course, the two STedans were side by side. Kyle’s definitely had a lot more flare in the engine bay than mine.

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One thing I’d love to mention is the engine cover. The engine cover has signatures from some of the people who have both inspired and/or helped me build this car in some way. A few are missing including my parents, Mike, the ThreeTwenty crew, and one signature that probably won’t ever be put on there because things would probably get awkward real fast… haha.

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George’s Mk1.5 was a car that I immediately admired from the get-go. It was boosted by an aftermarket FS Werks turbo kit and was slammed and sitting pretty on Fifteen52’s.

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Meanwhile, Richard’s car was a beautifully clean ST sitting on AirLift air suspension and Fifteen52 TurboMacs. This particular shot up above is probably one of my most favorite shots of a car I have taken. It’s one that required little editing and one that I was genuinely surprised that I got.

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Derek, whom I had only known online, showed up later in the day. It was a pleasure meeting him and while his car may have been under the knife, it was cool to finally see his it person.

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This is apparently one of the guys in Mike’s crew. It is a really good looking MK1 and if I recall correctly, it is also boosted.

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After a while, we all grew hungry or at least us that were displaying our cars. With no food there at the meet, we all decided to go get some food. I don’t remember what I was doing but I somehow missed the memo when everyone actually left, so I hustled to catch up to everyone.

We all made our way into a little Mexican restaurant. Now, as a Mexican who has visited family in Mexico many times, and seen a lot of very weird places that were “restaurants”, I can tell you that this was definitely one of the weirdest. It seriously looked like a trap house that doubled as a restaurant. There was also some hair care products on the walls, and other items.

The tacos I had were actually pretty good though. They were very spicy too. We all finished up, chatted a bit, and made our way back to the meet. Some of the guys were mentioning about how some of the local people were mean muggin’ us. It was as I said, sketchy and we made sure to all walk back as a group, even when we went into a gas station store along the way.

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Once we got back, I decided to get the last few pictures of the meet. The Escort was the first choice, as I wanted to make sure I got those pictures in the line-up. It is powered by the same Duratec block that was in my NA, and in the MK2 Foci. It had ITB’s and also had forged internals. The interior was beautifully crafted as well. The pictures I took of this little Escort were grainy to really give you the feel of the car.

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The RS is just a beast. That’s always the impression I get when I roll up on one. I have seen every single color in person, thanks to Thunderhill raceway in Willows. This specific example was sporting a few Mountune parts. It was also sitting on Fifteen52 Turbomacs. Maybe one day I’ll own one.

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The Hoonigan team put out a few things to keep people entertained. The virtual video was playing a 360 degree video of Ken Block getting sideways. The Forza game was accompanied with a steering wheel setup that made for some fun yet frustrating gaming experiences.

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I snapped this shot as the day there was coming to a close, and I am so thankful to have been able to publicly debut the car at a such a cool and popular venue with awesome people. It was nice to see Kyle again as well.  The guys I met were all very chill and I hope to see them all again sometime soon. Maybe the Focus will be on Fifteen52 wheels by then, who knows.

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After everyone made their way scraping down the ramp of the dock, the Mountune guys lined up their cars for a shoot. So, since I had my camera in hand, I thought I’d shoot the cars as well. I posted one of these pictures up on Instagram as a teaser for this post, and you won’t believe the amount of people that suggested I paint the STedan this color. Maybe I will, but who knows, haha. After that, Isaac and I made our way home.

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Not without a quick trip through Hollywood and Santa Monica though. It was odd, because there were supercars driving next to us, and yet people were taking video and pictures of my car. At first, I was confused but quickly realized that people in this area don’t see cars like this that often here. To them, supercars are the normal, day-to-day thing. How often do you see a full ST body and drive-train converted STedan? 2 in every several million Foci in the world.

I don’t like to boast, but it really is cool that Bill and I have 2 of the only Focus sedans in the world that not only have a full ST exterior, but also the heart of the beaST, which is the drivetrain. That’s an opportunity of a lifetime, to be among only 7 who have done the drivetrain swap so far.

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Once I was home, I went to the normal spot at Black Butte lake where I go to gather my thoughts, and plan my next move.

Which brings me to now.

Thank you, to everyone. First off, to God which is where my faith lies. He has opened doors for me, and I have gladly entered them and some I was even undeserving of. Next, to my parents, whom have always supported me in all I do. I owe so much to them, because they always think of and put their kids first. Lali, Chantal, Lucas, and Lola, thank you for always making me smile, even in the hardest times. You guys pushed me and reminded me of who I was and what I loved, and this build would not have progressed without you, my siblings.

Of course, I need to say thanks to the original inspiration behind this build, Dakota. You may never see this, but thank you, for allowing me to find this passion of mine, as it was because of you that I found a way to really express who I am and be happy.

Tim, Miguel, and Ali, you three are what started this insane passion of mine. You guys taught me, and showed me the petrol head lifestyle, and I embraced it. I hope I am making you guys proud as I continue this build.

Mike and Kyle at Rebel Devil Customs, without you guys, it would have been dang near impossible for me to do this, but we found a way. I am glad to call RDC my main parts supplier, and not only that, Mike and Kyle are great friends of mine. I look forward to more years of building up cars with your guys’ help.

Also a huge thanks to Bill, at Oroville Ford. Not only are you a great help with parts, but I am so glad I can you a friend. This engine build would not have been finished without your awesome help, and I will always cherish that.

Dallas, Chava, Tucker, Greg, Marko, Gabe, Serjio, Ruben, and Panch. Bill, Mario, Alex, Derrick, Brian, and Brandon, the ThreeTwenty crew. You all may not have had a direct help with this swap, but you all helped me pull through one of the most difficult seasons of my life, and pushed me to continue on and fight. I did just that. I have all of you guys to thank for it. You are all people I can call best friends, and people I can call whenever I need help.

I also want to take time to thank Brice and Isaac for accompanying for these two huge trips. You two are awesome for taking time out of your lives to come along for the ride for some very big days in my life.

To everyone else that has supported me in any way, thank you. I truly cherish you all. I also want to thank you, the reader. Thank you for taking the time to read up on this crazy roller coaster that is my life. I will continue to move forward and provide updates for you all and cherish every second of it.

As I bring this post to a close, the next post will be delayed for a while as it will be a post that will bring this around full circle. It is something that every car guy dreams of achieving.  I can’t wait to share that accomplishment here, to show you that this rare car that I have built with my own two hands, and a few others that helped, will be recognized in a huge way. That’s all because of you guys. Thank you, and GodSpeed.

-Jose

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