One of 26 original Ford Focus RS pre-production cars up for auction

This pre-production example of the original Ford Focus RS hot hatch was saved from the crusher 20 years ago – and now it could be yours.

Pre-production cars – built in the final stage of a new car’s development, often to test the assembly line before mass production begins – are usually required by law to be sent to the crusher once the first cars hit showrooms and they’re no longer needed.

But for various reasons, some road-registered, pre-production vehicles escape an untimely, otherwise scheduled demise – including this first-generation Ford Focus RS, listed by its current owner in New Zealand on auction platform Collecting Cars.

According to the auction listing, the car is believed to be one of 26 pre-production examples built prior to the Focus RS ‘October 2002 launch – denoted by its’ 0000 ‘numbered disc plaque beside the handbrake – which followed 12 now-crushed’ development prototypes’.

While the car would ordinarily have been destined to be crushed, it’s believed it survived because it was exported to Japan in 2004 and registered that June.

The listing claims the car remained in the country until around the end of 2019, when it was purchased by the current owner and shipped to New Zealand – where it’s being sold from today.

Images show just under 50,000 miles (80,000km) on the clock of the for-sale car, with the marks on all four wheels indicating it has spent plenty of time beyond the confines of a garage.

Launched (but not developed) under the eye of Jost Capito – now the CEO of the Williams Formula One team – in 2002, the original Ford Focus RS revived the brand’s ‘Rallye Sport’ nameplate, dormant since production of the Escort RS Cosworth rally hero ended in 1996.

Under the bonnet was a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder enginesending 158kW and 310Nm to the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission and a Quaife limited-slip differential.

Upgrades over the standard three-door Focus include a sports body kit with wider wheel arches (to hide the 65mm-wider front track), 18-inch OZ Racing wheels, enlarged Brembo performance brakes and a sports exhaust, with all cars finished in Imperial Blue Metallic.

Inside, drivers were treated to Sparco sports bucket seats, trimmed – like the rest of the interior – in blue and black leather and Alcantara.

Excluding the 26 pre-production cars and 12 development prototypes, 4501 full production examples of the ‘Mk1’ Focus RS were built, more than 2000 of which headed to the UK. However, it was never sold in Australia.

As of publishing, bids on the pre-production Ford Focus RS are up to $ AU21,000, with the auction to end on Wednesday at 7:40 pm AEST. Click here to view the full listing.

Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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