Deciding how to begin modifying a car can be a daunting experience, especially if it is your first foray into modifying vehicles in general. Inevitably, potential-tuners will turn to internet forums for advice. While some (most) forum information should be taken with a grain of salt, one of the most tossed-out nuggets of advice is to work on “driver’s mods”, or, in other words, to improve your own skills with your example of whichever car you have. Unlike some of the other potential advice readers of the inter-webs will find, this is one piece of wisdom which holds true. While modifying a car can improve the dynamics, learning your car will allow you to find the areas which you need to focus on.
Taking my own advice, I set out to drive my 2016 Ford Fiesta ST for a few thousand miles before I performed any modifications, using the time and distance to come to grips with my new vehicle. With my first Fiesta ST modification update at 1500 miles on the odometer, I obviously did not hold out for very long. This modification, the Mountune Symposer Delete, did not affect the drivability or the dynamics of the car, and was merely for personal taste, however the second modification I performed at the same time, did. This second modification was the Active Shift Designs accelerator pedal spacer, and with 4000 miles just ticking over on my odometer, I feel I now have a proper impression of the results of the installation.
While I normally reserve modifying a car until I have worked on feeling the car out, I knew during the test drive that something had to be done about the pedal position of the Fiesta. While the clutch and brake pedal seemed to be properly positioned in relation to each other, the accelerator pedal gave the impression that the designers simply chucked it in and installed it where it fell. Being positioned both far to the right and farther back compared to the other two pedals, heel-toe shifting was an impossibility. This smooth-shifting skill is one of the first I seek to teach myself with any new car, and having it denied to me was a major annoyance. Quick research showed that I was by no means the only driver to have such a complaint.
Luckily, modern technology is a wonderful thing. Using 3D printing technology, the company Active Shift Designs has developed an easily-installed pedal spacer for both Fiesta ST and Focus ST drivers (the Focus ST spacer is significantly different, and won’t be pictured in this article. The installation and base design logic remain the same, however), which is under $60.
Using the factory mounting positions, installing the spacer takes at most 30 minutes, using two tools: a 12mm socket and a 13mm socket. Undoing the factory nuts utilizing the 13mm socket, one simply gently sets aside the now-loose pedal, slips the provided mounting hardware and the spacer on the factory bolts, slide the pedal back on, and install the new, supplied, 12mm nuts in the same spots as the original nuts. With installation as simple as that, and the cost low, even a marginal result would ensure the modification was worth it.
While the results were not as dramatic as I would have hoped for, the results are there. As this is simply a spacer, the fundamental position of the pedal could not hope to be changed. The far-back, far-right position of the pedal is altered by this modification to instead only be positioned too far to the right to be considered optimum. Despite this, with this modification, heel-toe shifts depart the realm of improbability, and enter the realm of possibility.
When I installed this part at 1500 miles, I was desperate for anything to solve my pedal woes. With 4000 miles on my Fiesta ST, and 2500 on the spacer, I have grown used to the new position of the accelerator, and heel-toe shifting is becoming more and more practiced. For anyone annoyed with the anti-sporting pedal position of their Ford Hot-Hatch, I have only good words for the quality, ease of installation, and the results of Active Shift Design’s pedal spacer (which can be purchased HERE).
Feel free to use the comments below to ask any questions on the part or the install, and remember to like the article and share with your friends! Also, how do you heel-toe? One of the ways shown below, or another form of contortionism?
I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.