The "Taboo" Ford Transit Connect Performance Build

LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
edited March 15 in Ford
Many of you may or may not recall that at one point I had an on going thread dealings with upgrading our 2020 Transit Connect and most of those things we covered at that times really did not have any relevance to anything "performance" till now. We've reached a point where we've started add upgrade suspension components to the van, Starting with upgrading our factory 16'' 215/55/R16 wheels and tires to 19'' 245/40/R19 wheels and tires.

We've selected these 19x8.5 Axe CS List wheels purchased from Performance Alloy out of England. The wheels came undamaged shipped my DHL and without any customs fee. using Discount Tire North America, they helped us locate the correct tires for the van. This meant for 4 months, we test drove the van with 5 different sets of tires until we located the Nokian brand.

We've been driving on these tires for 3K miles and been loving every minute of it. We driven through snow, on ice on wet and dry pavement and these tire simply will not stop due to their tread design for all times of road conditions. The Nokian G4's are some of the best tires we've even had the chance to own on any of our vehicles. Then we added a front set of the Bilstein B6 struts as our factory struts failed within two years of ownership.

In the above image, the van was still on the lift and being lowered to the ground, so the distance between the tire and fender edge is not correct. Adding the Bilstein B6 struts with the factory coil springs lowered the front end of the van by 3/4 of an inch. With the van resting on all fours, we've concluded that the front end doesn't need to be lowered any more as we're getting a slight amount of scrubbing while driving over speed humps or railroad tracks.

One can place these two fingered between the front tire and fender edge. As for the rear of the van, ones balled up fist can be placed between the tire and fender well and we're aiming to purchase a set of 40mm Cobra coils from Netherlands to lower the rear of the van. The van handles fine with this setup but we're still not done.


  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    Since driving the van, we've notice some slight body roll going into curves. In order to correct this, we've heard that the van could share many of the same parts from the Ford Focus RS/St as well as other Ford vehicles. In order to test this lead, we were given a chance to visit an aftermarket performance shop located in the heart of NASCAR county. Driving more than 10 hours from Maryland to North Carolina, we arrived to take a tour of their shop. Typically this shop designed sway bars for the Corvette, Camaro and Mustang. But just by chance they had a 32mm sway bar designed for the Ford Focus RS/ST.

    Placing the van on the lift and supporting all components, we dropped the Van's engine cradle. Then test fitted the 32mm sway bar. Although the sway bar mounted up in the correct location, the sway bar bends towards the two main cradle uprights would not allow for full articulation or up and down movement. We also tested the Megan Racing 28.9mm sway bar and again the same issue with the bends towards the end link connection. But a few blocks from this location was another performance shop that also invited us to their shop. They specialize in upgrading the Focus and while there, we learn that the Focus engine cradle is not designed the same as the Connect cradle.

    This is the belly of a 2018 Focus. I've added red arrows to show that the Focus cradle uprights have bends or is spooned out as to allow for the sway bar. The Transit Connect doesn't have this type of spooned uprights. Instead, sharp edges on the two main upright makes it difficult to add a performance sway bar to the van.

    So for the record, when someone tell you that the Focus shares parts with the Connect.. This is partly true. Parts like the control arms, ball joints etc are universal and can be swapped between several Ford Vehicles. Unfortunately, a performance Focus sway bar doesn't fit on the connect. However not all is lost.. we've bene given another lead on a possible donor Ford vehicle which uses the same designed engine cradle as the Transit Connect.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    After learning of the disappointing news that the Focus sway bar will not work on the Connect, we get new information about another Ford vehicle which used the same engine cradle.

    Image Above: 2019 Ford Transit Connect Engine Cradle

    Image Above: 2019 Ford Kuga/Escape Engine Cradle

    Both of these engine cradle are identical and have the same two main sharp edge uprights. We've been following a lead on a company from Taiwan who claims they've designed a 28mm sway bar that will fit the KUGA/Escape & Focus. Hardrace out of Taiwan have a 28mm sway bar which we'll be purchasing in a few months.

    The main thing in the above image is the first bend closest to the center. these bends are bent outward unlike the Focus bars which are bent inward. causing the obstruction with the two main uprights and although the Focus and KUGA sway bar are designed the same the two main bends are where the difference lay.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    Before we order the sway bar, we've decided to go ahead and order the rear coil springs from Cobra Suspension out of Netherlands. After contacting them they sent us images of a stock Transit Connect with their lowering springs.

    Image Above: stock 17'' wheels with 20mm/40mm lowering springs

    Image Above: 18'' OZ wheels with 20mm/40mm lowering springs

    Once we get the rear set as we're not needing the front set of 20mm springs, we'll drive a few hours to a performance dealership who has a set of the factory front coil springs. Once we have the Cobra springs and factory springs, we'll ne heading back to the powder coaters where we want them to powder coat the factory front set of coils the same color as the Cobra coils.

    This way the factory fronts powder coated the same as the rear Cobra coils will have the appearance that we have a full set of the Cobra coils installed on the van. Powder coating the front set will cost us 80.00 USD ea. Allowed to cure then have our performance shop swap out the black factory coils for the newly power coated orange factory coils.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    While we wait to add the hardware, we've done a few other small things to the van. We've always hated how the rear full size spare is mounted under the van. So we had Discount Tire drop the spare and cut away the cable system holding the spare in place. This left a big gap under the van which we may make a few changes to the exhaust system later.

    After removing the full size spare, we need to locate another replacement. using a site called RoadKillCustoms (no relation to the show) we located a chart which goes into detail about other wheels with the same bolt pattern and center bore as the Connect. We concluded that the 17'' 2005 Ford Thunderbird balloon spare was the perfect spare tire for us. But we had to create a new way to carry and store this spare inside the van.

    Instead we purchased a spare tire mount from an off road retailer and designed an area on the passenger side of the van to mount this bracket. This meant having to remove the plastic panel from the cargo area and cutting out a hole as to allow the bracket to poke through. we had the shop cut the hole while the wife and I mounted the bracket.

    The red block shows where we mounted the spare tire bracket. The end result..

    Our only regret.. Our first powder coater did not powder coat the wheel the correct color, so we're out to have the spare tire removed then have our new powder coater coat the wheel the correct color. Plus later, we'll be adding a diamond tucked carbon fiber spare tire cover.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    Speaking of Diamond Tucked Carbon Fiber, we just complete adding this material to the panel blanks located in the rear of the van. 2 large sliding door panels, 2 medium rear door and 2 small rear door panels.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    A vendor on amazon claiming to be with Zeder Corp owners of Whiteline & Super-Pro out of Australia, wanted to take part in our build. So they sent us the whiteline 28mm-30mm lateral locks & 300mm-345mm super-pro end links.

    Although these end links were designed for a Volvo, the Connect end links are within the same measurement range as these end links. So they should work perfectly without any major adjustments. Projected appearance after the super-pro end links and 28mm sway bar has been installed.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    Throughout this build the van hasn't been without it's flaws.

    ➤ After only 2 years of driving the front struts gave out. According to our shop, the tech tells and shows me that the struts where simply resting and relying on the coil springs as the struts had zero articulation. We ended up having to get a set of the Bilstein B6 struts sooner than expected.

    ➤ Then while working on the struts, we opted to try a set of the Duralast end links. These end links are heavy duty with grease ball joints. But that was a mistake also. The Duralast, Moog & Mevotech end links cause damage to our van inner fire wall.

    In this image, the end links were too large and caused deep gashes on the inner firewall and chases frame. At one point, the drivers side end link because lodge between the coil spring and firewall. So avoid Duralast, Moog & Mevotech heavy duty end links on the Connect or risk the same issues we had.

    ➤ The van's windshield seems to be prone to cracking.. Twice within 4 months we've had to replace our windshield due to cracking. The first time, Safelite replaced the factory clear with an aftermarket tinted glass. we because use to and enjoyed the tinted glass only to have it crack also. The second time, another installer reverted back to the factory glass and we hate it. But there's nothing we can do about it. We should have been more aware as to what glass was being installed and requested that they replace it with the same tinted glass Safelite installed.

    ➤ Then we learn that there was a missing drain plug located at the rear of the van. Without this drain plug exhaust fumes was entering the van and at the time we thought it might have been oil burning off the engines as we noticed this smell soon after having an oil change. We've since replaced the plug.

    ➤ Above I spoke about the 5 sets of tires we went through. The issue with those tires, is that they all had one thing in common. Weak sidewalls. What ended up happening is that while entering into curves the tires would flex or over flex under or over the wheel's edge. This made for very dangerous driving. In the image below, I've placed an arrow where these tires would become unstable and over flex. I contacted the tire's manufacture and they claim they've add more flex to tires in order to give consumers better gas mileage..

    Although we liked the first set of Nokian "one" tires they too flexed too much. But we were willing to give Nokian another chance. This time selecting the Nokian G4 tires with Kevlar. If these Kevlar reinforce tires didn't work our last option was to purchase a set of runflats. So far, we've been pleased with these Nokian G4's.

    ➤ Then there's the issue with trying to get information from vendors about particular products for the van. They've all considered the van to be Taboo. It's unheard of here in the states for a stock utility van to become a performance vehicle and although we haven't done anything to the engine other than add a K&N air filter and the NGK sprak plugs, most of what we're focusing on is the suspension.

    ➤ With the on again off again tires on the Axe wheels.. we've damaged the Axe center caps and we've not been able to locate them. Axe themselves isn't able to locate them either. So we've been driving the wheels without center caps.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    Two other thigs that needed to be corrected of fixed with the van over these last few years. We wanted to upgrade the stock low beam bulbs to the Sylvania H11 bulbs. But each time we did this (taking the precautions) the bulbs would burn out within a few weeks. Checking the connections at the wiring harness shows that the bulbs would burn out at the connectors and not the bulbs filament. it's costed us 100.00+ to replace 2 sets of these bulbs. This time we've better prepared because Summit Racing has a sale on the Hella H11 bulbs. so we made sure we purchased a few of these as we're going to keep these in the van at all times just in case.

    Another thing that we hated about the van but have learn to deal with it over the years is the seats.. or better yet the seats angle. Because of how the seat tilted back, this cause pinch point along our spine and hips. We correct this with the use of 50mm skateboard wheels.

    We ended up cutting 4 wheels in half just in case 50mm wasn't enough. One would place these wheels under the rear of the seat located at the frame rail. This means having to also replace the factory bolt with a longer bolt as to allow for the skateboard wheels. This has to be one of the best things we've done to the van. changing the angle of the seat helped reduce any lower back and hip pain and we can drive father and longer because we're more comfortable.

    Searching online we discovered others creating nearly the same set up but used longer bolts. We took their suggestions, but found these bolt we purchased are too long for what we needed them for. Using (1) 50mm skateboard wheel under the frame rail and (1) half wheel as a spacer or washer until we can purchase the correct bolt for this application.

    So if your seat's angle is too steep in the wrong direction. remove the rear bolts and loosen the front bolts that tie down your seat, lift or push the seat forward just enough to slide 2 50mm skateboard wheels (1 per side) under the frame rails then use the correct length bolt to tie all down to the floor once again. This little modification has made a world of difference in our comfort.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    It's official, we'll be ordering the Cobra Suspension 40mm lowering springs either today or beginning of next week. One thing we had to clarify is how the coil springs are to be shipped. According to Cobra Suspension, he says they will ship FEDEX. I was concerned with how any products are shipped to us as UPS & FEDEX will not deliver to our address. So we'll have to use the shops address to have the coils shipped to us. The coils should arrive in a few weeks.

    Once we have the rear set, we'll head over to the Ford dealership and pick up a new set of the factory front springs. With both sets in head we'll then head over to our powder coaters and have them powder coat the factory "black" springs the same color as the orange Cobra springs.

    So far the total for just the rear springs is $239.00 USD (shipped) While the factory front springs direct from Ford will cost us $73.00 USD ea. But we'll drive to the dealership for those.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    This Just In:

    According to Seabourne Logistics (UK Shipping Firm), Said that they picked up the package and it's now headed to a distribution facility then be logged and then head for the states. Still no word as to what North American shipper will handle this. Can not wait for these to arrive. Once they're here, We'll take a day trip to Waldorf Maryland Approx. 3 hours away to a Ford Performance dealership who happens to have a set of the factory front coils in stock. These are new coils and not some junk from the salvage yard. Once we have all the coils, it's another drive to our powder coaters. Then see if they can match the color of the Cobra Coils. Once the powder coater has the color lined up, we may opt to have just the rear coil springs installed instead of doing all four coils at once. This way the van isn't in the shop the entire weekend..

    Here's whats going to happen. Once the new front set of coils have been powder coated to color match the new Cobra coils.. the shop will drop the front struts again, remove the factory black coil and install the newly powder coated color matching front coil springs. I suspect that while the front struts are out, I'll have the tech mount the new Super-pro 300mm-345mm Volvo end links onto the van. Just to be ready when we purchase the new performance 28mm sway bar in a few more weeks.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19

    Last year, emailed Velossa Tech in the hopes of getting them motivated to create a snorkel for the 2020 Connect. Although they said they will work on it, Checking the site shows that nothing has been done yet.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    In case any TC owners are wanting to upgrade to a larger set of wheels and tires.. Here's the goto list:

    Wheels: 16'' - 20''
    Offset: 38 - 50 (depending on the wheel size)

    Tires: 215/55/R16 - 245/40/R19

    Avoid These Tires On the Transit Connect:

    Nokian One

    We listed these tires because we've tried all of these on the van, Nitto performed the worse then Kumho was next. The issue with all of these tires is that they all have weak side walls. When the van enters a curve, the tires are over flexing causing the front end to slide. Several times we've slid into curves stopping short of hitting the curb or other cars. An over flexing tire isn't safe and should be avoided.

    Best Tire:
    Nokian G4 as these are made with Kevlar with reinforced sidewalls but are not runflats. If Nokian is not on our van, they should be.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    Look what arrive yesterday afternoon:

    and although I thought these coil springs were orange in color, they're actually red. Now to find time to have these installed on the van. originally we though to purchase a second set of the factory fronts to have them powder coated the same color. But it's best to check the fit of these first before we do anything else.
  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    edited May 13
    Welp, Here's what you've been waiting for.. 3 weeks ago we had a chance to install those 40mm rear lowering springs on the Connect. Before the connect was lowered, we took a measurement of the gap between the tire and fender edge which came to roughly 102mm. After installing the coil springs.. the van dropped down to 40mm+/-.

    Before: 101mm

    After: 40mm +/-

    However after installing the coil springs.. the rear of the van has settled and is now lower than the front. We contacted Cobra Suspension and asked if they had a 10mm front lowering springs. The best they could offer is a set of 20mm lowering springs and that would be too much. So we're going to buy a new set of the factory springs and cut somewhere around 5mm-8mm off of them, powder coat the same color as the rear springs and reinstall on the Bilstein struts.

    If all goes well, we'll be ordering the 28mm hardrace sway bar and install that on the van afterward. along with the sway bar, we'll install the 300mm-345mm Volvo end links which have been sitting in the basement for 6 months awaiting the sway bar.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    1 year ago I wanted to find out what this things was we've seen on several of the Focus guys cars.. it's this rectangle thing just behind the front grille..

    Turns out it's called a snorkel and it's bene made just for the Focus guys. We contacted the makers of this air ram setup and asked if they would create one for the van. they decline to do so. However, searching the web we located a Creative Commons 3D printing site which had the snorkel file, We sent the file to our shop and they took over from there.

    3 weeks ago, we get an email with this picture:

    Our shop 3D printed a snorkel for us, but this was only 2 of 4 pieces. The other 2 parts should come along very soon. Then we can mount this setup on the van. So if anyone is looking for products like this, their going to have do the same thing we did, print it yourself as out shop is not willing to sell their design to the public. That's what's called one off.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    edited May 13
    Clean the wheels last weekend with turtle wax wheel and tire cleaner

    Also, we tested the same cleaner on the brake calipers and the Bilstein struts.. it work so well.. I'll have to send our finding back to turtle wax.

    Ironicly, the struts were installed 1 year ago and still look new. But the freshly painted calipers were painted 6 months ago and after the wife seen the little red shield on the wheel center cap.. she now wants red calipers instead.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    edited May 17
    In the next week weeks we'll finally have a chance to order that 28mm Hardrace sway bar for the van.. if this works we'll also be adding the Super-Pro sway bar end links as these were gifted to us from Zeder Corp out of Australia.

    According to Hardrace site, these sway bars were designed for the 2013-2019 Ford Kuga aka Escape which uses the same engine cradle as the Connect. This is going to be interesting for sure as this would be the first time we know of where someone with a North American transit Connect uses a European sway bar on their van.

    Although the sway bar looks very close to the two main uprights, we may end up hammering these uprights at the point where the swat bars make contact. But this is the closet thing we've been able to locate and use on the van.

  • LostNTransitLostNTransit Member Posts: 19
    yet another Focus part has been discovered fitting on the transit Connect. According to several Instagram users, the Brembo brake calipers will fit on the connect. This because true when we seen their vans posted online with the day glow Brembo calipers.

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