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ZETEC Performance (2000-2004) The place to chat about any 2.0L Zetec engine performance, tuning and exhaust related upgrades.

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Old 04-17-2017, 09:41 PM   #1
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"Discreet" Build

Hello all,

Long time lurker first time poster. I'm going to try to ask this without it being a "build it for me" thread.

I've done a lot of reading on these boards and still find myself conflicted about how I want to start, so I thought I'd pick your brains. Maybe this will turn out to be fun.

I have a 2003 ZTW, 2.0 Zetec, auto transmission. I bought it as a backup to use for surveillance (which I still occasionally do for my job), and really fell in love with driving it. It's peppy and fun to drive.

When I get in a bind, I need to get away quick. While the car is quicker than most would assume, there's still some room for improvement.

While I'm not opposed to building a monster, I'm looking to hit the "surprisingly quick" mark for when I need to bug out of an area.

I'm not sure if I should start with suspension mods first - under the banner of a car that hug curves is faster than the car that can't, or engine mods.

Suspension Thoughts:
I can get away with lowering the car a little. Just so it's not too distinctive and can handle a rough/dirt road here and there.

Front and rear stress bars (say from FSWERKS) to improve handling? (Wondering if the rear stress bar would help the "kick" the rear end does when hitting a bump at speed sometimes)

Drivetrain thoughts:
Throttle body

Header/exhaust (recommendations on a quiet system would be appreciated - it cannot be loud)

Air intake.

If I get real crazy I see a turbo on FSWERKS site, but I know little about their products at this point.

In your opinion(s) would this be a good starting point? What mods would you recommend for the most bang for the buck out of the box?

The wagon has no issues at the moment that I'm aware of. Had the transmission rebuilt around 105k miles and it's going strong at 120ish now.

Any help would be appreciated. There's so much information here it's hard to know where to start. I'd love to do some discreet mods to the outside (brighter headlights and such) but I can't make them too distinctive. That's for later, though.


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Old 04-17-2017, 10:30 PM   #2
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This section is best for the engine performance info., Brakes, Suspension & Chassis for that end.

Wagon is very limited in suspension options as the rear springs & shocks are different, only a 1.5" drop type kit is avail. afaik when you can find them.
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Old 04-17-2017, 11:02 PM   #3
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Better shocks and Poly bushings for antiroll bars

slightly better: bigger antiroll bars.

better brakes and better wheels/tires.


then start think about engine.....
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Old 04-18-2017, 12:40 AM   #4
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Go turbo. Then the husbands cant catch you.
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:43 AM   #5
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I like your line of thinking. I'm just learning about these cars myself but I have extensive experience with other makes\models and long nights starting out a windshield waiting for something to happen, so I hope some general info will be welcome.

Keep the under the hood mods to bolt-ons and mild. A little more umph is nice, but quiet, stealth, and reliability should play a large factor. Getting out of Dodge is all fine and good, but slinking away is safer. All else fails, you can't outrun a Motorola so invest in a good hands-free setup to call for help.

A car that sticks well and has consistent response to input can outrun 500hp, especially in an urban environment. Don't forget the binders, while you are trying to get away, good brakes can help set up for a corner, avoid hitting something you don't want to hit, and are just smart anyway.

Rear light toggles - be careful on this one when it comes to SI - cuz if they can't see you, they can't find you. Don't forget the license plate light... ask me how I know.
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:15 AM   #6
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A header will not really help you with your stealthiness. I have fswerks header and their quieter stealth exhaust but it still makes considerable more noise on start up and acceleration than most.
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
This section is best for the engine performance info., Brakes, Suspension & Chassis for that end.

Wagon is very limited in suspension options as the rear springs & shocks are different, only a 1.5" drop type kit is avail. afaik when you can find them.
Good to know, thank you. Is that the Eibach kit I've seen mentioned around here from time to time? I think they pop up on eBay here and there.
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pasta View Post
Go turbo. Then the husbands cant catch you.
It was my first thought, not gonna lie, lol.

Not too many husbands these days. I like things clean and corporate. ;)
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoopdance View Post
I like your line of thinking. I'm just learning about these cars myself but I have extensive experience with other makes\models and long nights starting out a windshield waiting for something to happen, so I hope some general info will be welcome.

Keep the under the hood mods to bolt-ons and mild. A little more umph is nice, but quiet, stealth, and reliability should play a large factor. Getting out of Dodge is all fine and good, but slinking away is safer. All else fails, you can't outrun a Motorola so invest in a good hands-free setup to call for help.

A car that sticks well and has consistent response to input can outrun 500hp, especially in an urban environment. Don't forget the binders, while you are trying to get away, good brakes can help set up for a corner, avoid hitting something you don't want to hit, and are just smart anyway.

Rear light toggles - be careful on this one when it comes to SI - cuz if they can't see you, they can't find you. Don't forget the license plate light... ask me how I know.


I'm thinking pure handling is looking like the better route. The car is pretty quiet as is. It's generic enough looking to the average person that it really seems to not attract much attention. And damn mileage, lol.

Back in the good ol' days I had a Tahoe that I installed an actuator behind the license plate on. A flip of a switch and it folded the license plate flat down. Sticking out, but couldn't be read. Handy for red-light cameras and other endeavors.

I do like the idea of some performance though. The car is really fun to drive for me - and of course who doesn't like the idea of a fast wagon?
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Old 04-18-2017, 08:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rambleon84 View Post
A header will not really help you with your stealthiness. I have fswerks header and their quieter stealth exhaust but it still makes considerable more noise on start up and acceleration than most.
The term I've seen around here that makes me laugh the most of fartbox or fart cannon. Is it that bad?

Noise is a major concern for me. I haven't built a 4 cylinder anything before for performance, but it seems like every (other) modded 4 cylinder I see out there is loud as hell.
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