When people talk about high-performance Ford vehicles, the Focus isn’t going to be the first vehicle that comes to mind. The 2001 Ford Focus owned by Rick Hernandez is the car that’s the exception to that idea. Hernandez’s Focus is known as the “Son Of Cobra Jet”, and it’s powered by a stout 302 cubic-inch V8 engine.
Fast Fords are something that Hernandez knows plenty about. At one point in his career, Hernandez drove the Ford Performance traveling display trailer to numerous events nationwide. Hernandez also owns the world’s fastest Cobra Jet Mustang. The 2008 Mustang has gone 208.8 mph in the standing mile, held several NHRA records, and earned a bunch of NHRA national event wins.
The V8-powered Ford Focus came about when Kugle Komponents created a swap kit to stuff a bigger engine into the chassis while converting them to rear-wheel drive. Ford Performance actually carried the kits in its catalog. During the height of the NOPI days, Hernandez had several of these V8-swapped cars in the Ford display trailer that he took to events.
The story behind the V8-swapped Focus Hernandez owns is interesting, to say the least.
“The car came out of a Ford dealership in South Florida. It was built in the prime of the NOPI days and the owner put it together for his son. There was some shady stuff that happened, and that led to an FBI raid. This was one of the cars that was impounded and eventually sold at auction. I picked it up and have been going through the car and updating it since it was an older build. This is actually my wife’s car and she enjoys driving it,” Hernandez explains.
The Son Of Cobra Jet is powered by a 302 cubic-inch small block Ford mill. The engine features forged internals, a set of SVO cylinder heads, a Holley carburetor, and a Ford Performance intake manifold. The engine needs plenty of spark to make horsepower, so Hernandez upgraded the ignition to a CD-1 Super Speedway system from JMS Chip and Performance. The engine is backed by a 3550 five-speed transmission, and an 8.8 rearend that’s filled with parts from Eaton and Strange Engineering. According to Hernandez, the engine makes around 570 horsepower, and when you mix that with a 2,800-pound car, you get a fun little ride.
The concept of a rear-wheel drive Focus that packs a wild V8 engine is an interesting concept. It really makes you wonder what could have been if Ford put a little more effort behind this type of swap.