***At Moochfest 2008, FFR launched their newest model, the ’33 Coupe***—Get this—it has independent front suspension with clever control arms, ( the prototype has 3-link rear suspension), is stiffer and 100lbs lighter than the Roadster, and features a 22” longer wheelbase. FFR designed their ’33 Coupe so it can take a wide variety of different motors. Basically, this means that this is a hot-rod that drives like an FFR sports car—so expect 100 yard opposite-lock slides, past Porsches and Corvettes:
Factory Five ‘33 Coupe
Moochfest 2008, at FFR HQ in Wareham, MA.
The Cobra Coupe is $21,995 and the GTM is $19,995—screaming deals, frankly—so while the rest of the American car industry is in tatters it is impossible to imagine Dave having to throw in a 50” Plasma to sell his cars or pushing any kind of “all 2007’s must go!” deal—people are beating a path to his door.
Parked alone, the stubby Factory Five Roadster looks quite fantastic, and you can’t help but pour over the details. But when 5 or 6 are roll up alongside one another, they don’t look like beautiful and unique snowflakes. They look like one another—and begin to seem pedestrian. But closer examination reveals a word of variation—different motors, different wheels, exhausts, steering wheels, seats, dashboards, even rear-suspension linkages. Some have stereos and wooden-rimmed steering wheels, while other owners choose racing harnesses and starter buttons.
The Daytona is the opposite—it looks a little long and big when stopped, but even at a crawl the design overflows with elegance and dynamism. You can imagine huge noise erupting from the pipes as the big rubbery tires torture asphalt—it’s the type of beast that distorts and ripples track apexes over time.
The GTM looks so much better in the flesh than on screen-it doesn’t look like a Fort GT-or even an S7. It looks like a very well finished and attractive sports prototype that you’d see at Le Mans, and whose marque you’d not recognize. It has a full roll cage, and houses a mid-mounted Corvette motor—yes, it can take an LS7 if you desire. Car and Driver clocked a so-equipped 505 bhp GTM going 0-60 in 3.0 seconds. That probably isn’t the number FFR is most proud of, but it is hugely impressive nonetheless. The interior is totally livable, has air vents and is fully lined. It even has a stereo, a well-finished dash, and electric windows and locks.Part of the way FFR keeps quality so high and costs so low is through several innovative construction techniques. They build the frames on rotisseries—to make it easy to weld hard-to-reach tube-junctures. All but one of their body panels is molded in-house (The Roadster’s main body is made by a Rhode Island yacht-builder. FFR doesn’t have the space to make them). They also use Fanuc Robots to cut the aluminum sheets that are the interiors—and etch the fold-lines right onto the panels, so the workshop isn’t littered with Instruction Guides—which would, as Dave Puts it—“become wallpaper within a week.”At first glance, Dave is just a down-to-earth guy, wearing a shirt and blue jeans. But when the subject quickly turns to cars, you realize that he really is the heart and soul of the company. When one customer had difficulty wedging himself into a Roadster, Dave jumped in another and said “here’s how I get in and out” (stand on the seat, put your hands on the body, and lower yourself straight-legged into the seat). And he added “when I’m upside down and on fire, I sort of shimmy out sideways.” When he led a tour of a factory for 50 customers, the joy he took in helping the company stay true to its original values as it grows was palpable.
That FFR customers must assemble their cars has its advantages. Most obviously, it allows them to provide the kits at a lower price, but there are manifold other benefits. It makes the car an instant hobby—many FFR owners are retirees, and the assembly process keeps them as busy as a 2-year long novel; some have even sold their first FFR’s just so they can labor on another. Factory Five doesn’t have a dealer network, but with each owner an expert on his own car, dealers are unnecessary. Finally, the build process lets the owners customize their cars, and really gets them excited about the ownership process.
Crucially, and this isn’t evident from the video—FFR’s cars can cash the checks their looks write. While some owners buy the cars just for the great looks and cruise the local boulevards looking for stop-light races, other spec-race theirs and to them the looks are secondary. Next year it gets even better: the recently unveiled ’33 Coupe will be a real sleeper when it goes on sale next year—at least handlingwise. People might be used to hotrods burning it up in a straight line, but the ’33 Coupe is going to run rings around sports cars on the track too. Yup, Dave Smith and Factory Five are about to charm the rodders too. BRAAAAP!