Kit cars used to have a reputation for being low on quality and reliability. Fortunately, some avid enthusiasts like renowned racer Karen Salvaggio have worked to change this. Factory Five Racing, for example, is the world’s largest manufacturer of component car kits. That means that the Wareham, Massachusetts-based company can supply the basis to build a 1933 Ford, Shelby Cobra, or Shelby Daytona Coupe replica for a fraction of the price of an original. Interested in more modern machines? They also offer their own contemporary designs that are powered by either Subaru WRX or C5-generation Corvette powertrains.
Factory Five Racing Mk4
Factory Five first gained national media and enthusiast recognition thanks to its Cobra replicas, known as the Factory Five Racing Mk4, which are offered in three different trim levels: the Mk4, the Mk4 USRRC Roadster, and the Mk4 Challenge Model. All Mk4s have a 4.0-inch round tube frame and composite and aluminum bodywork. The USRRC Mk4 variant is essentially a Mk4 with a different exhaust, roll bar, and fuel cap. The Challenge model gets a more elaborate roll cage, track-oriented shocks and is intended to be a racing machine. It’s become known as the best-selling replica car of all time. Today, it’s common to see these classics at cars shows and track days nationwide.
For the mechanical bits, Factory Five recommends customers source a 1987-2004 Mustang for use as a parts car. That explains why the engine, transmission, front and rear suspension, fuel tank and steering system that underpin the Mk4 are all Ford pony car parts. Even so, newer Mustang engines and transmissions aren’t the only choices. The Mk4 can also accommodate classic small- and big-block Ford engines. Factory Five estimates it takes about 300 hours to complete a Mk4 kit build. Base Mk4 kits start at $12,990, and complete kits cost $19,990.
Factory Five Type 65
Building on the success of its Cobra replica, Factory Five also offers Shelby Daytona Coupe clones. Know as the Factory Five Type 65, the sleek two-door sports car has a spot-on resemblance to the machine that won its class at Sebring, Le Mans, and, of course, Daytona in the 1960s.
Today’s version of the Type 65 is Factory Five’s third iteration of it, which is why it’s also referred to as the Gen 3 Type 65. The car evolved to deliver increased performance, more interior space, and fresher styling. To achieve these goals, an all-new chassis was required. Like the Mk4, the Type 65 uses a tube frame, fiberglass and aluminum bodywork, and plenty of mechanical components from the Mustang. Perhaps the biggest functional difference between the two is the Cobra replica is a convertible, and the Daytona Couple has an arguably sexier fixed roof in place. Base Type 65 kits start at $16,990 and complete kits cost $21,990.
Factory Five’s Hot Rod
For enthusiasts who prefer smooth style to outright speed, the ‘33 Hot Rod is a great way to build a classic custom without the hassle of tracking down a clean vintage car. Based on the basic looks of the 1933 Ford, Factory Five’s Hot Rod gets a tube frame, composite and aluminum body, and provisions for using modern Mustang parts.
The body can be configured in several ways. These range from a fully fendered classic Ford coupe to a stripped-down, fenderless, open-topped roadster. Factory Five estimates it takes 300 hours to complete one of these Hot Rod builds. Stage 1 and Stage 2 ‘33 Hot Rod kits cost $9,990, and Complete kits cost $19,990.
Factory Five 818 Models
On the more contemporary front, the 818S Street convertible, 818C Coupe, and track-day-oriented 818R roadster—which look like mid-engined racing versions of the Subaru BRZ coupe—represent a modern take on classic lightweight sports cars. They are designed to accommodate the turbocharged flat-four-cylinder engine from 2002-2007 Subaru WRXs. The 818 models feature a tubular steel space frame, a composite body, and Factory Five front and multi-link rear suspension. These machines are both capable of being either weekend cars or track-day terrors. The 818S, 818R, and 818C kits cost $9,990, $10,990, and $12,990 respectively.
Factory Five GTM Supercar
For those who want a modern supercar-caliber kit car, the mid-engined Factory Five GTM Supercar is just such a machine. It looks like a combination of a 2000s Corvette, Porsche Carrera GT supercar, and classic Ford GT40. Like the other Factory Five offerings, the GTM gets a tube frame and composite bodywork. This car, however, is intended to get an LS1 or LS6 V8 engine from a 1997-2004 Corvette that fits to a five-speed Porsche G50 transaxle.
During testing of this 2,400-pound machine, Car & Driver magazine achieved an impressive 0-60 mph time of 3.0 seconds and a quarter-mile time of just 11.0 seconds. Factory Five estimates it takes 600 hours to complete the build of one of these cars. The GTM kit costs $24,990.
Time + Effort = Results
These machines are designed to be assembled by enthusiasts. In the case that someone doesn’t want to construct a car, though, Factory Five can also refer customers to shops they know who can complete the build. After all, kit car building is not for everyone. But for those who take an interest in it, it provides an opportunity to create something fun and exciting. It’s also a great way to acquire a classic or modern supercar (of sorts) for a relatively minimal cash outlay. Whether it’s the Shelby Cobra, 1933 Ford, or a GTM Supercar, these cars are likely the only machines you can bring to a car show or track event and say, with complete honesty, “I built this car new myself.”
We continue our discussion about Factory Five Racing with none other than Karen Salvaggio. Check back in coming weeks for a classic interview!