My project began with the purchase of a brand new Ford Escort ZX2 from Westlie Motors in Minot, ND on May 26,1999. The car is powered by a 2.0L 16V DOHC Zetec engine with VCT (variable cam timing) on the exhaust cam. This motor puts out 130hp at 5750 rpm and 127 ft/ lbs. of torque at 4250 rpm. The car sits on an isolated front suspension and quadri-link rear suspension. Sporty looks and an MSRP of around $12,000 make this the perfect choice for tuning. Also, the fact that there weren't many hooked up ZX2's on the road gave me the chance to be different. The only downside to this is the lack of aftermarket support due to the ZX2's unpopularity. Some of the parts I will be using for this project will be the first of their kind, with little to no feedback on them.
It wasn't until 10 months after I purchased the car that I began my first modifications. To make the car more appealing visually, I slapped on a set of 17X7 TSW VX-1 wheels wrapped in Nitto 555 Extreme tires. To get rid of the gap in the wheel wells, I installed a set of Progress springs which lowered the car 1.75". To give the car a more aggressive tone I had Minot Muffler install a Borla exhaust. To finish off my first round of mods, I installed a set of NR white- face gauges, a carbon fiber dash kit, and had the windows tinted by Too Dark Auto Tinting.
Up to this point, the only thing I really cared about was looks. I had never raced up to this point. That all changed when halfway through the summer of �00, I raced for the first time at the Dakota Flat Track. My best run was an 11.6 in the 1/8th on 17's. With the stock wheels put on, my best run was an 11.2. It was the best experience of my life and I had been bitten by the racing bug. I purchased an FZ Racing header, Weapon R intake, Ford Racing PCM, and a B&M short shifter. With the help of Dave Reed, we installed all of the parts and I returned to the track to bust out a best run of 10.9. I didn't neglect the appearance side and installed a Ford Racing leather shift boot, B&M carbon fiber shift knob, and a mesh grille on the outside (don't ask, I was poor! And by the way, it is still installed!-DT). The exhaust, PCM, shift knob, short shifter, and shift boot can all be found on the ZX2 S/R, the ultimate ZX2 which has eight different aftermarket companies with parts specifically designed to work as a cohesive unit for Ford. This car was designed to compete with the Civic SI and was to tide the public over until the release of the Focus. Other parts include an Iceman intake, Centerforce dual friction clutch, Eibach/ Tokico suspension setup and Energy Suspension Polyurethane bushings. Everything with the exception of the intake and Eibach lowering springs will eventually find their way onto my car. Around this time, I also had Pacific Sound install an Alpine six- disc CD changer. This single audio mod was enough to satisfy me, as I was all about racing and saw the added weight of a set of subwoofers as an anchor.