90 Minutes with Dave Smith PT 1
by, 03-27-2012 at 19:07 (1136 Views)
Monday I left to come to Boston for a conference for work. The plan was to be here most of the week. When I found out, I dropped an email to Factory Five Racing to see if I could get a tour of the plant. Their front lady, Sally Bean, sent me back a note saying they could oblige. I was ecstatic (as you could probably tell from this blog post). When I got to Boston, I got in the rental car and started my hour trek down to Wareham, MA. I arrived a little early due to being able to grab an early flight. I was glad I did, as I don't think I would have made it to the Factory Five shop before they closed ... or without enough time to really get any kind of tour. Sally asked me if I could wait a little bit as the person who would be able to give me a tour of the place was already giving another tour. This wasn't an issue with me as there was plenty to see in the showroom. I waited around for a while and the employee (don't remember his name) and the customer (I believe his name is Al Ornstein) came back into the showroom from their tour. The employee came by and asked if I needed any help. I told I was hoping to get a tour. He said he had to leave, but I could wait for another employee who would be coming back from an errand. I said no problem ... I hadn't come all this way just to leave empty handed. So, I continued to wait about another five minutes and guess who walks into the showroom ... none other than Dave Smith himself, owner of Factory Five Racing. He came up to me and shook my hand. He asked if I needed any help and I gave him the spiel. He said no problem. He grabbed me and Al and took us on a journey through his place. All I can say was AWESOME (high lilting voice twinge there ... ).
The first two cars he showed us were these two cars in the engineering room: one Cobra, one Hot Rod. Both sport the new Ford Coyote engine. Dave told us while he still loves his Cobra (I'll show you the pic later) with the BBF (427 I believe), running the Coyote engine in these cars makes them so much more drive-able and therefor more fun.
The Cobra was in the shop to get some new headers. They are in the process of engineering a kit solution for the Coyote engine which they do not have yet. There are a lot of one off pieces in it which they are in the process of figuring out. The Hot Rod was up in the air for some reason ... I think it was getting some final work done on it so it too would be on the road. Now that I think of it, there was interior work going on. I do have to say, I am not fond of how the rear wheels look. I think there needs to be more offset or something so they fill the flares. Dave said these wheels are brand new ones he had made up. Anyway, just my personal opinion.
From there he took us to the where the staging area for the newly formed kits are put awaiting transport to their final destination: the customer! In this picture you can see there are several kits in the waiting. While I was there, the transport truck showed up and they started loading kits into it. Dave told me they ship out around a dozen cars a week (if my count is right). Even with this crappy economy, people are still buying these things like there is no tomorrow. I don't know about the counts for the Type 65 or the Challenge Car, but for the others they sell around six Mk4, three Hot Rod, and one GTM Supercar kits per week (if I remember what Dave said). According to their website, they have sold more Mk4 roadsters than all the other kit companies out there. Here's the staging area:
You can see the car bodies are the correct color ... red ... for a car This is the gel coat which covers the fiberglass. I'll talk more about it in a little bit. In the same area as the kits ready to be shipped was this part finished Hot Rod. (Sorry the first picture is a little blurry.) Dave showed us that the exhaust could be ran several different ways through the frame, making the car that much more adaptable as well as configurable to the builder's taste.
The second two pictures are from the Hot Rod in the showroom, but I wanted to show you how the front end on it worked. I don't know if you can tell, but the front end has the shock inboard behind the radiator. The front arms are cantilevered. This does a few things for the front end of the car, one of which being you have less unsprung weight in the running gear. Dave told me the front end on the Hot Rod is race inspired and proven. You could take this out and do laps at a raceway. Dave said it's just that good. (Continued in Part 2 )