I have 1 car with power and very little suspension work.
My other car is all suspension work.
I love driving the one with suspension. The one with the power isn't nearly as fun. No traction, rolls through corners, feels like a minivan. Really shows me that I should have listened to those who told me to do suspension first then build power years and years ago. If I had to do it all over again, I'd listen to their wisdom.
On the cheap/budget, buy the stock SVT springs, struts and shocks. It'll lower the car a little and firm it up nicely. Best part is the whole package can be had for around $300 new/shipped (IIRC it's still available from Ford).
If you want a little stiffer spring, find RS springs.
If you want a little better strut/shock, look for the 'Dynamic' suspension.
Or you can go with something like an Eibach kit or H&R, both of which will cost more and will be a little stiffer.
Also keep in mind that you should keep money back for proper alignment after any suspension work.
After that, good tires. They can make a world of difference. I run a Summer tire and a separate Winter tire. The compounds of all season tires are too much of a compromise IMHO and I have better results running tires specific to the season.
Simple bolt-on's like intake, exhaust and such should really be accompanied by a good tune. Without a tune you really won't see as much benefit and you are risking the safety of the engine. I always thought some shop would sell it all as a package deal (like I've seen for other cars) but no one has yet. I don't like 'stage 1', 2, etc. but for simplicity tune, intake and exhaust should be sold as a stage 1 kit.
Far as intakes go, you really only need the lower half of the SVT airbox and the snorkel. The top half is identical. You need the bottom because of the shape difference between snorkels, round vs triangle.
Exhaust, SVT header hands down. Simply put, it's reliable. I've cracked 2 Focus Central headers in the same spot. I gave up and bought SVT, I won't go back. Second best would be the Focus Werks header.
Simplicity, Go with the FSW header. With the SVT you have to buy an offroad pipe and SVT specific flexpipe, which adds to the cost. With the FSW you just need a flexpipe.
For the flex back, go on youtube and listen to them. Fair amount of options but most will sound quite similar. The FSW Stealth option is very nice and quality. I'm getting older and I don't much care for noisy exhaust.
The lower cost option is Trubendz. You have options of mufflers and resonators you can add and they have some of the lowest pricing. But there are some who've had minor fitment issues.
Exhaust diameter, depending on you power goals, I wouldn't go smaller than 2.5". Yes it sounds big and many will say you should go smaller. I've gone blue in the face arguing this and few have listened. Just trust me on this one. FWIW, I'm running 3" on my car, no downside.
Also, you don't want to neglect the brakes or start to modify a car that is in need of repair to be safe. Always start with a proper running car. Things like adding suspension to worn bushings will only exacerbate problems and cause faster ware.
Last edited by iminhell; 02-05-2013 at 05:51 AM.