John's Hot Rods

FFR '65 Roadster Build

Planning thru Delivery Phase Rolling Chassis Phase

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. 

July, 2000

     By this time I had spent quite a bit of time on 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. 

August, 2000

     Through the 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 (FRPP) 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.

September, 2000

     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, etc, etc. 

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, and 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.

December, 2000

     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. 

January, 2001

     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. 

February, 2001 

     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.


March, 2001 

     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 thing built!  


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