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Speed and Style: From Totaled Commuter Car to Loaded Exo

Dove Racing builds a loaded SVE Rocket 2 with a 2.0-L EcoBoost

By Dean Larson and Pete Dove

It seems strange to our gearhead brains, but for the majority of folks, a car is nothing but an appliance. A simple means from point A to point B, accomplishing transportation in the same soulless fashion that their dishwashers wash dishes. But we’re not wired that way are we? We like cars that go fast, spoil the senses and make visual statements of style and speed. The modern exo car can be all of these things. Lightweight, CAD-designed chassis provide rigid platforms for razor-sharp handling and the lack of body panels puts you in tune with the road for a real bugs-in-your-teeth driving experience. And to the average commuter, they look like nothing you’ve ever seen, with their bare-bones exteriors boldly proclaiming that the owner of this vehicle doesn’t settle for mere practicality. Our friends at Dove Racing in Trenton, Texas recently sent us some details on their freshly completed Rocket 2 build, and while its heart may have been sourced from a fairly standard Ford Fiesta donor, I think you’ll agree that there’s nothing standard about this exotic exo car.

The build kicked off at Dove Racing back in August of 2019 when a customer from New Jersey decided to pull the trigger on a new Rocket 2 exo. The basic kit was introduced in 2017 by Exo Sports Cars, based in Nottingham England, as the next evolution of the successful SVE Rocket Classic. The mid-engine Rocket 2 was computer designed with a more modern aerodynamic look, and the chassis and suspension are uprated to handle the higher horsepower and torque of the Ford EcoBoost engines. These turbocharged four-cylinders can be sourced from Fiesta ST and Focus ST hot hatchbacks, along with Getrag six-speed transmissions, making them great donor cars.

Dove’s last Rocket 2 was completed in 2018 with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost from a 2014 Fiesta ST, but the owner of this car was looking to turn the wick up even hotter, and selected just about every option available for the build. That included the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, rated at 252 hp and 270 lb.-ft. in stock trim. A perfect donor was found in the form of a wrecked 2017 Focus ST, which arrived at Dove Racing’s facility in September of 2019. Although the car had been rolled over, it only had about 17,000 miles on the clock and was running when disassembly began.

The next step in the process was to start configuring the Rocket 2 chassis for its new owner, who incidentally stands 6 feet 7 inches in height. For that reason, the new owner paid a special visit in September 2019 so the seats, shifter, E-brake, steering column and pedals could be positioned to his liking. While the Rocket provided enough room for his tall frame, some custom work was still required:

“The only issue we had to deal with was to provide more space for his size 14 right foot so he could access the throttle pedal easily. This was achieved by making an inset in the front portion of the kit-provided alloy tunnel.” — Pete Dove, Dove Racing.

With the best available turbocharged engine installed and custom-tailored interior features, the new owner of the Rocket 2 spec’d out an equally customized exterior to set his Rocket exo apart. The chassis and suspension components were finished in a brilliant two-stage chrome-green powdercoat, with the same shade applied to the INOVIT five-lug alloy wheels as well (sized 17 x 7 inches and shod with Sumitomo HTRZ II tires). The color was applied by Crosslink Powder Coating in Fort Worth, Texas, and when matched with the gloss black GRP hood and rear engine cover, turned out to be absolutely stunning. To spice things up even further, the customer also opted to have carbon fiber stripes added to the GRP hood and engine cover and specified carbon fiber fenders as well.

Other unique additions to this ride include an upgraded 12-gallon fuel tank, and padded, diamond-quilted two-tone upholstery (applied to the kit-supplied GRP seats and center tunnel), completed by Leo’s Seat Covers in McKinney Texas. For added versatility, the seats are mounted on Sparco low-profile sliding seat runners.

The customer also specified the front hinging option for the GRP hood, which provides a wiring challenge because the instruments are mounted to the back face of the hood. To make the system work seamlessly, all the wiring was interfaced to the chassis with a special 37-pin connector. But that wasn’t the only challenge in wiring the car, as the donor car’s PCM cannot be used in the kit application. That’s where U.K.-based SCS Delta jumped in with a custom PCM and engine harness tuned to an estimated 280 hp (roughly a 10 percent increase over the stock Focus ST). Assisting with the extra power production is a water-to-air intercooler by Bell Intercoolers of Austin, Texas. This custom option was developed in conjunction with Dove Racing for EcoBoost engines, and includes the intercooler mounted over the transmission, a custom heat exchanger in the front, the coolant pump and other necessary parts. Front brake calipers were sourced from Wilwood, along with Rallye Design alloy uprights, Focus Mk 1 bearings and hubs and drilled and slotted rotors from Brake Performance. In the rear, the stock Focus ST CV axles interface with custom kit-provided uprights and stock ST calipers and rotors (drilled at slotted from Brake Performance).

Climbing into the interior of the finished Rocket is easy with the addition a 13-inch Sparco P310 racing steering wheel mounted on an NRG adaptor and quick release. Speedhut provided the instrument package, which included the Legend cluster (that seems like it was designed for the Rocket 2 kit), and matching boost and oil temperature gauges, along with all necessary sensors. The wheel turns a Mk I Ford Focus steering column, which includes provisions for indicators, flashers, high-beams, etc., and ultimately directs the kit-supplied steering rack.

The entire build about 6 months to complete, and this truly one-of-a-kind Rocket is now with its new owner on the East Coast. This has to be a special one for Dove Racing’s Pete Dove, who is quite proud of this car’s technical specification:

“We had a bit of trouble getting the engine started because the MAP sensor had been damaged when the donor car was rolled. SCS Delta, although located in the U.K., was able to access the PCM through our laptop using Team Viewer and diagnosed that we were not getting a MAP signal. Once we changed the MAP sensor, they also had the ability to check the function of the injectors and fuel mapping, all the way from the U.K. — a truly remarkable achievement.” — Pete Dove, Dove Racing.

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Dove Racing Exo Cars SVE