Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
June 15, 2006
The Smiths pride themselves on using as many American-made products as possible in the kits. While offshore welding, steel, and mold costs are summarily cheaper, they feel it's worth the expense to use American steel and other U.S.-made products in the company's kits. The steel comes to them in precut lengths, ready for the chassis welders.

Why a 5.0 Mustang? As David puts it, "Why reengineer what the factory spent millions perfecting?" If the 5.0 Mustang, with its 225 hp, 300 lb-ft of torque roller cam 5.0 ('87-'91 numbers) was the fastest and best-handling domestic car of the era save for the Corvette, imagine what that drivetrain would do in a car weighing 1,000 pounds less, with a lower center of gravity. Besides, in 1995, a 3- or 4-year-old 5.0 Mustang was just another used car. You could buy them at a cheap price, and even cheaper wrecked. For around $15,000, you could build a nice, small-block-powered replica of the 427.

Today, Factory Five Racing (whose name comes from using the factory five-liter Mustang parts) has delivered over 5,000 kits to customers across the United States and abroad-more than all other Cobra replica manufacturers combined. Customers build everything from exact 427 replicas to wild supercharged and fuel-injected stroker small-blocks with custom interiors and body modifications.

FFR uses frame jigs to ensure each frame is welded precisely like the last one. The Roadster chassis is similar in design to the original, with 4-inch round tube-frame members that are thicker than the originals, but extra steel is used for triangulation and safety-in the cockpit area, especially. There are more than 900 welds in each frame, taking the welder approximately two hours to complete each frame.

You may wonder how FFR can manufacture and sell a replica of a real car that existed nearly 40 years ago. Many people don't realize the overall design and shape of the Roadster has been in the public domain for decades. What's protected is the name "Cobra," which is still owned by Ford. FFR has spent many years and thousands of dollars in the court systems proving these facts, which allows them to continue to manufacture and sell its Roadster today, albeit without the use of the Cobra name and without any Cobra-specific badging on the car. This certainly hasn't had much of an effect on FFR's sales, as the company ships a mind-boggling 15-20 kits out of its warehouse each week.

We're excited to bring you this new project car, and we have some great ideas for our readers. We're planning monthly editorial on the build itself, along with weekly updates on our Web site and even online video of key build points. While we're still working out the details, we're also looking into using Web cams to bring you instant access to our build process throughout the whole project.

It will be built right in Yours Truly's own garage, just as you would do. No high-end hot rod shops, no 10,000-square-foot workspace-just a typical two-car garage and a decent toolbox full of typical socket sets and handtools. You'll be amazed by how little room and what few tools you'll need to put one of FFR's '65 Roadsters together.

We recently visited FFR to tour the plant and see how the crew produces their '65 Roadster as well as their other vehicles. So follow along to see how they do it.