May & June, 2000
As this was now
Summer time, the lure of cruising down the road in a hot rod with the
exhaust roaring was really starting to get to me.
I started considering getting a Mustang, Camaro, Firebird or just
something to satisfy this desire. Not
being a Ford fan the Mustang was kind of low on the list.
I had an opportunity to drive over to the Hot Rod Magazine Power
Tour stop in Talledega, AL with some friends so I went to check it out.
As expected there were plenty of cars to fuel the already burning
desire for a streetable hot rod. I
had the Nova but it is far from streetable.
While at the Power Tour I saw plenty of the late model Camaros,
Mustangs, and Firebirds. They
were nice but just too common. The
Viper would be my first choice if I had to pick from the crowd but it is
very cost prohibitive. Then I
happen to run across a ’65 Shelby Cobra replica.
Now that is a sweet ride no matter what the style of the day is.
A Cobra has ageless styling, nice curves, and topless, loud pipes,
uniqueness, lightweight and dangerously quick to boot.
I talked to the owner and discovered that it was made by a company
called Factory Five Racing (FFR) and was built using some Mustang parts.
I knew that Mustangs were very common so parts couldn’t be too
expensive so I began thinking. After
the show, I jumped on the Internet and started my research into these
replica manufacturers and specifically FFR.
I soon realized that it was going to take quite some time and
effort to pick a manufacturer that fit what I was looking for.
The good news was that they seemed somewhat affordable.
I did lots of research online and talked to a few companies about
their offerings. It seemed
all the kits had different key features and benefits so I thought I better
decide what I was after. I
decided that first and foremost it had to be a kit that was affordable. I also wanted a kit that I could drive and enjoy, would be
very fast, as close to original styling as possible but still built using
today’s technology with a performance focused design.
By this time I had
spent quite a bit of time on www.cobraforum.com
searching through old posts from people asking some of the same questions
I had. The forum was
priceless for this type of research.
I had now narrowed my focus to FFR and a couple others.
FFR seemed to be the most complete kit for the cost and I like the
Mustang donor concept due to availability of parts both new and used. I had pretty much decided on FFR but I just wanted to see
some in person.
CobraForum I met a few guys that were located close to me and in different
stages of completion and all owned FFR cars.
I met one guy who had just completed his a few weeks earlier and I
had been keeping up with his progress on the CobraForum.
He was nice enough to let me come over and check it out.
Very nice! It was
Viper blue with white stripes and had a Ford Racing Performance Parts
351W crate engine rated at 385hp backed by a T-5 transmission from a
Mustang. He asked if I wanted a ride.
He should’ve saved his breath because I was ready to buy a
ticket. Just the music from
the sidepipes is enough to make you consider eating Ramen noodles for 20
years to buy one of these. So
down the street we went and lucky us, within a mile we passed a new C-5
Corvette. Trust me he knew he didn’t want any. After a few miles I was in love and just had to have one of
these. Then he gave me a
little taste of what this machine could do.
WOW! Hold on, this train is moving.
Doesn’t take long and you realize you are basically just strapped
to an engine and transmission with 4 tires and a coat of paint.
At 2000lbs it doesn’t take much to get this machine moving.
I now knew that “Cobra smile” they talk about on the forums.
I was pretty much hooked now and had already started eating those
Ramen noodles. I then went
and checked out another local guy’s car, which had just been delivered a
couple weeks earlier. This
gave me an opportunity to check out the frame, body and other parts as
delivered. I was still
impressed and this was about all I needed in order to place the order.
This was the big
month. I placed my order with
FFR around the end of the month. I
chose to get a carbureted kit instead of EFI because of simplicity and the
vintage look of the carb. I
also ordered the rear upper and lower control arm set, hood hinge set,
body cut-outs (highly recommended by most), blank dash (not using standard
gauges) and unpainted frame as options.
I still hadn’t decided on an engine combination yet but since my
shipment date from FFR was given to me as March 10, 2001 I had plenty of
time. Now came the hard part.
Finding all the parts I needed to build this car when it arrives
and making all the decisions on what engine, tranny, wheels, paint color,
October & November, 2000
During these next
couple months I spent most of my time continuing to research engine
combinations mostly. I talked with what seemed like every engine builder in most
all Ford magazines. OK, OK I
must admit I am putting a Ford engine in this car.
It hurts me as much as it might you.
I have had to eat many a word over this decision but it hurts the
value of the car somewhat to have a non-Ford engine.
I also hate to admit this but this has opened my bowtie shaped eyes
to a bunch of Mustangs that are running the hell out of 100K mile plus
302ci Fords with nitrous, superchargers, etc and they are still keeping
the rods in the block. I must
admit that Ford did something right with that little 302.
I also located a
few places that have the parts I need to build this car.
I am not going the donor route and instead I am going to get only
the parts I need. I think
this will be more economical in the long run since I am not using the
stock EFI 302, gauges, wheels, etc. I
also located a few people through some posts I made asking for stock
Mustang parts for sale on the nmraracing.com,
stangnet.com and corral.net
classified boards. I was
fortunate enough to get a reply from one guy locally that was planning on
building an FFR but has since changed his mind.
I am hoping that I can get all the parts he collected.
I also met someone who has a stock ’94-’95 351W shortblock out
of a Lightning truck with only 11K miles.
I am still tossing around different engine combinations.
I have considered a 302ci, 351ci, and also a 331ci stroker
combination. The stroker
combination is built from a 302ci block with a longer stroke.
It gives you the benefit of the larger cubic inch engine with the
parts interchange and weight of the 302ci.
We’ll see what happens.
More of the same
this month. Decisions, decision, decisions.
I think I am getting a headache.
I received my Autometer
gauges and FRPP front lower control arm set from Summit
Racing Equipment this month. I
also placed an order from Tri-State
Motorsports for the Flaming
River manual steering rack kit and one-piece steering shaft as part of
a group buy on the CobraForum that Tri-State was offering.
Man, time really
flies. It will only be a few
more months and it will be here. I
have been trying to round up a few other guys between FFR and Alabama that
would like to share shipping. Many
people are using Wallace Trucking to ship their kits so I am also trying
to go that route. It saves a little money if you can locate a few people to get
on the trailer with you. Another
benefit is that you don’t have to pay the 350$ crating charge.
I put out a few and responded to others’ posts on the CobraForum
and have found a few guys willing to share shipping.
There are now 4 kits that will be shipped by Wallace Trucking
together which is going to save us all some money.
Towards the end of the month I called and made a few changes to my
order at FFR. I went ahead and changed to the 4 into 4 headers and the
Raydot side mirror. I have
now decided on sticking to the 351W engine.
I ended up not getting the Lightning shortblock.
It wasn’t going to save me much money over going with the FRPP
351W 385hp crate engine. You
give or take a little with either combination but the crate is complete
and assembled by Ford, and actually dyno’s at 412hp at the crank.
I also know of a few guys that have had great luck with theirs and
turned them to 7000rpm without problems.
I have a dyno sheet another FFR owner sent me where in an FFR this
engine made 333 rear-wheel horsepower.
Should make for a pretty good smile per mile ratio.
The most noticeable difference between the 302ci and the 351ci
engine is the torque output and the lower RPM power output.
Also during January I began the development of this website.
Hope you like it.
This month I have
been trying to tie up a few more loose ends as far as getting ready for
delivery. It’s only a few
more weeks and the kit will be here.
I have been cleaning up the garage, ordering parts, and I plan on
building a body buck to store the body on when it arrives.
I have now received my wheels from Tri-State Motorsports who had
them on special this month. They
are Image Wheels
brand wheels and are Halibrand replicas.
I think they are really nice looking, and as always Tri-State was
great to deal with. I
actually have 15” X 10” for the rear and 15” X 8” for the front.
I chose 15” over 17” wheels due to cost and also the vintage
look of the 15”. I have now
placed my order from Bleakley Ford outside of Atlanta for the FRPP 351w
crate engine and a 7003-Z World Class T-5 manual transmission.
Should be picking that up any day now.
It is now almost
the end of February and I have been pretty busy. I continued
cleaning up the garage and completed the build-up of the body buck.
The body buck really wasn't that difficult using the drawings that the
guys from the forum had put together. I picked up the FRPP 351W
crate engine and World Class T-5 transmission, and so far I am
impressed. I also picked up a FRPP heavy duty clutch, clutch fork
and clutch cable while at Bleakley. Received my firewall clutch
adjuster and quadrant from Fortes
this month also. I helped a buddy install his adjuster and quadrant
when they arrived and it seems to work great so far. Most
importantly, I received a call from FFR stating that my car was going into
production and it will be # 2592.
I will be trying
to wrap a few more things up this month and the first week or so in
March. I have to order the POR
15 paint that I will be using on the chassis. I am also planning
on ordering an air riveter, and tube bender from Harbour
Freight, making a list of little things like bolts and tools that I
need to get before the kit arrives, getting tires mounted on the wheels,
and ordering the rest of the parts that I will need during the first
phases of the build.
This is the big
month. I should receive my kit this month. I have ordered the
air riviter, tube bender, and even an air drill (I couldn't help it ;-),
the riviter was 50% off) in preparation for all the rivits that the kit
uses. I picked up the donor parts from the guy locally. He had
almost everything that I needed to complete the build. I have
started to clean and paint the parts with POR 15. I took a trip to a
local auto salvage yard and stripped a Mustang of the remaining parts like
various bolts, quad shock brackets, fuel sending unit, etc that I
needed. I still haven't decided on tires. I am thinking
295/50-15 in the rear which some have had success with but they rub.
I will probably end up with 275/50-15. I placed an order for FRPP
9mm plug wires and v-belt pulley kit from Bleakley Ford.
Well, the kit
should have shipped this weekend (3-10-01) but the blizzard that never was
slowed things down and delivery is postponed for a few days. I did
manage to get the rotors turned and painted, and picked up new brake pads,
rear shocks, and a standard rotation water pump. I also continued
cleaning and painting the used parts. Thankfully, I am almost done
with that. Now if I only had that kit...
This was the big
week! After delays with shipping due to the weather and illnesses
within Wallace Trucking my kit has arrived! It was delivered by
Wallace Trucking on 3-22-01. With a little help, we managed to get
it off the racks and onto my trailer without too much trouble.
Everything was as expected and only 8-10 items were on backorder from FFR.
Hopefully, they will get those backorders out before it puts me
behind. I managed to get everything inventoried and everything was
there except one special request item that I asked for. I called
them and they said they would send it right out. Now lets get this