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Detroit Auto Show: Shelby American soups up Ford Focus hatchback

January 15, 2013|By W.J. Hennigan

Shelby American Inc. has long been known to turn out fire-breathing autos with powerful turbo-charged engines, but with its diminutive new “pocket rocket,” the car company has changed things up a bit.

At the 2013 Detroit Auto show, Shelby American unveiled a souped-up version of a Ford Focus. The company took the four-cylinder compact car with front-wheel drive and wrenched in a new turbo-charged Ford EcoBoost engine the cranks out more than 300 horsepower.

Named the Shelby Focus ST, the hot hatchback was designed at Shelby American’s skunkworks division in Las Vegas and tested extensively at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

PHOTOS: 2013 Shelby Focus ST

The term "pocket rocket” was coined by the late auto legend Carroll Shelby in the 1980s, when he helped out his buddy and then-Chrysler Chief Executive Lee Iacocca to soup up an array of Chrysler's front-drive compact cars. From the Shelby Performance Center in Santa Fe Springs, Shelby churned out cars such as the Shelby Charger, the Omni GLH ("Goes Like Hell") and the Shelby GLHS ("Goes Like Hell Some More.")

The new Focus ST's exterior features functional hood vents, hydro-carbon front and rear grille inserts. There’s also identifiable Shelby lettering and a rear hydro-carbon spoiler to give it a meaner look. The company said there are three visual graphics packages offered, including traditional Shelby racing stripes and more edgy Shelby checkered flag or competition graphics. 

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Detroit Auto Show

The Focus ST has been lowered thanks to new Ford Racing suspension and new wheels and tires that improve the car’s grip and traction. Shelby American tacked on bigger brakes with drilled rotors to boost the stopping power. The company also said a new Shelby/Borla exhaust makes the roar you’d expect from a car with Carroll Shelby’s name on it.

Inside the Focus ST, the car has a complete custom interior and Shelby shifter.

The 2013 Shelby Focus ST package begins at $14,995 not including the stock Ford Focus, which can be around $15,000, and will be limited to 500 per model year.

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