Originally Posted by bay_wolf
Another question, do you think a tune would be a good first step instead of an intake or header swap?
EDIT: What I'm really wanting to know is I have $1000 to spend on upgrades and to make it more responsive, powerful, and handle better; what should I get done?
... with a $1000 budget what do you think would be the best performance mods. (I will buy used as I don't care about that)
The SCT/Predator tuner the guys at the dyno will give you can be reprogrammed again later (they're about $400 + another couple hundred for dyno time) so a tune will only really give you a baseline reading, and a talking point later when referring to how far you've come... You may want to save that one for later after you have more stuff as it's gonna eat up that budget and only do so much for performance feel without better parts.
For better response and power delivery you may want to look into polyurethane engine mounts... My manual went from dropping 1000k+ rpms between shifts to around 500rpms. Acceleration was crispier because of 'em too. Just a warning on that though; your car may not play cds anymore! The engine vibrations reverberate through the whole frame and the cd player skipped so much I couldn't use it anymore.
And handling could be improved with springs (I have Eibach pro kit springs 1.5in drop), and you might also look into SVT shocks while the car's apart and getting the springs ( they're about 1.5in lower than what you have already) they'll round out the suspension without having to go to a more hardcore suspension setup... And a lowered Focus is already a VERY competent corner-carver!