Focus Fanatics - View Single Post - Weighed my car yesterday......
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:05 AM   #29
pelotonracer2
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Join Date: Sep 2007
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Location: DFW area, TX
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I don't know about that... there's alot of useless junk in the car that is not needed for a project like mine. Don't get me wrong, I think the Focus has lots of potential, especially *if* I could remove 500+ pounds of weight AND tweak the weight distribution (and the rest of the car so it can handle it). It's one of the main reasons I bought the car in the first place. And yes, before you ask, I've read just about every inch of this forum before I bought the car. There's lots and lots of different ways to achieve what I'm wanting to accomplish well beyond the scope of a SCCA rulebook. However, I do want to keep the car streetable. In my experience, power to weight ratio is everything when it comes to *overall* performance. The rest of the mechanicals can be manipulated or re-engineered to get the desired effects (ie: suspension tuning, weight distribution et al). I won't be tracking or Auto-Xing the car in any sanctioned events. However, I might do some drag racing or road racing from time to time and would set the car up accordingly to make best use of whatever race discipline involved.

I just thought I'd throw out the idea and see if anyone has actually completely stripped out a Focus SVT, weighed all the parts and fluff they removed individually and as a whole and what difference it made in the end. I plan on doing this and documenting everything along the way.

As far as weight reduction is concerned I know for a fact I can remove more than 300 pounds from ANY car! I know I can save 30+ pounds just by swapping the battery. I can also relocate it (or the heavier stock one) over the rear axle if needed (or fore or aft of it). This can offset weight distribution challenges effectively. Hey, did I mention that it's free and makes a HUGE difference taking 30+ pounds off the front end of a FWD car? Fords A/C compressors are on the heavy side too. I have no doubt I can remove close to 100 pounds off the front end of my SVT pretty easily (lighter battery, removing the A/C compressor and related parts, installing a TRUE carbon fiber hood, carbon fiber front fenders, modifying the front bumper, ORP etc. Removing the sunroof and electric motor will remove weight from an ideal area of the car (top heavy weight which will lower the center of gravity. I could also get really crazy and replace every single non stressed bolt, nut and screw with titanium, scandium or aluminum. Most other "metal parts" I could fabricate with lighter 3D net forged 2014 alloy which is VERY light and extremely strong.

Heck the spare, jack and lug nut tool weighs 32 pounds. The electric motors that drive the power sunroof, windows and mirrors are pretty hefty and heavy duty as well. So are the audio speakers (mine weighed 16 pounds altogether). The stock non Audiophile head unit is quite chunky too (if I had to estimate I'd say it weighes in the neighborhood of 7-8 pounds including the trim and metal insert box. I can save another 35-40 pounds by going with lightweight seats. But really, that's just scratching the surface! The back seats save what, another 80 pounds? I'm fully aware of the handling quirkiness of an automobile when you redistribute weight and or load or unload the suspension differently. I'm sure most big changes in over/understeer or other problems can be changed by manipulating different areas of the chassis and suspension. I won't be working much with the stock stuff so that's not a limiting factor. If needed, as I said before, I have the ability to custom fabricate my own one off parts.... if necessary. I'm not really restricted by a "budget" either.

Also just FYI, this is not the first time I have done a similiar project like this. I'll give you a hint. I'm a mechanical engineer. I work in the small boating and personal watercraft industry. I've managed and run professional race teams within the industry over the last 15 years. You would simply faint or fall out of your chair if you knew what the OEM race teams spent on their factory race team equipment. A bunch of inside people said we could never win doing things the way we did (but there is definately more than one way to get from point A to point B). The end result was in less than 5 years, we beat the big money race teams at their own game doing it completely different than the "masses". One National and one World Championship later I'm living proof that if someone says it can't be done, it can. Never tell me something can't be done just because no one has tried it because more than likely I'll find a way to prove ya wrong!

I have alot of experience working with OE manufacurers in several different industries not just PWC (marine, motorcycle, atv, some automotive and road cycling). I basically get paid to evaluate "parts" and the manufacturing process, how to make them perform better, how to make them lighter, stronger and more efficient (and keep the bean counters and designers happy). I also find ways of working around, through or with existing technology patents.

So In my experience, removing uneeded "ballast" is like free horsepower. Not to "toot my own horn" either but I get paid because of my ability to "look outside the box" so to speak. Most of the big companies I work for have their own engineers. When they want to depart from the norm... or have a manufacturing "challenge" they call me. I don't subscribe to the "mass" manufacturing design school or so called "modern" engineering.. heh.

I guess what I am getting at is... If I can take 100+ pounds out of an 850 pound personal watercraft, I don't see why I can't remove a whole bunch more from a car, considering it is much more complex and there's a ton more "fluff". All I really need is the car to remain mechanically sound. Everything else can go or be manipulated. If I need to I can make parts that are lighter and better than the originals. My only real constraint is that I want the car to still resemble the shape of a Ford Focus and I won't be modifying the frame. From there, anything is game.

I do realise the Focus SVT is in a totally different class than some of the other cars I've mentioned. There are a ton of cars out there that have around the same power, but are heavier... and they are also considerably quicker. I know the Focus SVT wasn't designed to be a straight line car... However, I can also tell that this car has a huge modification potential (and I'm not talking from a pure hp/torque potential either). I'm not saying the aftermarket for this platform completely sucks but from what I've seen so far, there's alot left to be desired as far as what's being manufactured. I don't know about you but... I wouldn't release a product to the public making claims of increased power or performance only to find out in the hands of the end user it was a total waste of money (sounds like 90% of the parts available for the SVT falls into that trap). Aftermarket companies in ANY industry are notorious for releasing product before completely testing and evaluating so they can make a profit. I find it very hard to believe that an $18,000-$19,000 car has almost every ounce of power extracted straight from the factory like a $55,000 BMW M3 for instance .

I'm not wanting to make this a drag car only platform (that would be stupid), but I'd also like it to be able to hold it's own against 90% of the cars on the road. The "competition" doesn't need to know how I did it, just that they didn't know what hit them when it happened (laughs). It won't be that obvious from looking at the car from the outside or from a loud or modified exhaust note. My goals are to build a true "all-rounder". Somewhat of a sleeper. A car that not only can accelerate well but also one that handles well too. How much of a difference in performance do you think a car that weighes 2660 pounds v.s. 1800 pounds given that the mechanicals and "power" levels were roughly the same? I certainly know from personal experience that a lighter car handles better, given you set up the suspension correctly. I also know that it will accelerate noticeably quicker too (but changes would have to be made there too. Removing 100 pounds of weight can equal 1/10 in the quarter mile on some vehicles. Yes you can assume removing 600 pounds could potentially reduce 6/10ths in the quater mile, given that you address other/new variables. I expect after I'm done there will be more difference than 6/10ths of a second reduction. I'll be reducing weight and increasing power at the same time, but also fine tuning the refinement and "power delivery" at the same time.

Anyways, SCCA race cars are subject to rules of the sanctioning body. I am not restricted as such. I just need to pass a visual inspection

I just used the Lotus Elise as an example. There's nothing too complex or fancy about how Lotus extracted the performance from the Elise. Heck, they didn't even use their own engine or suspension designs (both were sourced outside the company as far as engineering is concerned). Oh yes, I know it's hard to compare a rear wheel drive Lotus to a front wheel drive Toyota Celica, but they both use the same engine and many of the same mechanicals. Even under strict testing controls (taking out alot of factors that seperate the two vehicles, such as RWD v.s. FWD, weight distribution, suspension, wheels, tires, ride heigth, and even traction limitations) it's not too dififcult to see how the Lotus is MUCH quicker and more nimble than a Toyota Celica GT-S despite only having 10hp more (180hp for the Celica v.s. 190hp for the Lotus). As far as straight line acceleration is concerned, the 10 "engine" horsepower difference will not equate to more than 2 seconds difference in both 0-60 and 1/4 mile times, especially if we are talking about nearly identical gearing. I fully realize I'm leaving ALOT of other variables out but by now you should get the point.

A BMW Mini S is a 2600-2700 pound car (optioned out like what you see on the street mind you) and it has 172hp @ the engine. It's MUCH quicker than the Focus SVT from *any* acceleration test. So is the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V. 200hp but 3100 pounds. Price point isn't too far off either so is the "engineering" on the Focus SVT so much inferior to all these other vehicles that could be considered the competition "on paper"? The SVT might have 30 less horsepower but it is also 400+ pounds lighter. Perhaps Ford has overrated the engine output. I dunno. Something doesn't add up when you look at things from alot of different angles.

I certainly hope my NOVEL clears up what direction I'm going here and where my thinking process comes from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WeeAsp View Post
In reality, you are only looking at saving about 300 LBS and that is on the high end.

Most SCCA race cars are within 10% of their original curb weight.

That said, the delta between you and theV-dub is not that great. The difference in the performance is the engineering, not the weight.

That said, I am not sure that your comment of SVT cars "being so much slower" than other cars is accurate. I think you need to clarify the context of that statement.

On an AX or road course environment, I'm faster than a lot of V8 cars and VW's (depending on the course). There's video on this site to prove that as well.

I say that not to blow my own horn, but rather to speak to the ability of the focus. At the last REDLINE event, there were foci that were turning lap times 2-3 seconds faster than modified STI's. By the way, these cars had full interiors as well and I was the slowest of the bunch.

So, before you start tearing out the interior, you need to ask yourself what kind of racing do I want to do?

Set up the car according to that criteria. Simply lightening the car won't get you there combined with the bolt ons that you mention.

As for handling. Removing the rear seat will DRAMATICALLY affect the handling.

It will handle much more like a Porsche, and not in a good way, if you do that. There are a number of stories about people on this site removing the rear seat and having their hands full as the car tended to oversteer significantly.

With respect to the Lotus. It's not a straightline car. So, it's real merit lies in its ability to carry momentum. While a 0-60 time of 5 seconds is respectable, it really doesn't matter much on an AX or a road course where carrying and maintaining speed are the benchmarks.

Hopefully, I don't sound preachy, just trying to offer perspective.

There are a lot of folks other than myself who can "weigh in" (pardon the pun) who bring a LOT of expertise.

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