Sometimes life and the car world hands you golden tickets that are too awesome to pass up. So what the heck was I doing amongst the cranberry bogs in Wareham, Massachusetts on a Saturday morning? Getting a behind the scenes tour of Factory Five Racing at their open house. You might know them best for their Cobra inspired kits or the 818.
The roots of this company, like it’s owner Dave Smith, have humble beginnings. In 1995, He and his brother started Factory Five in their small garage across town from their current location. Now they’ve sold over 9,000 kits and have grown to a 62,000 square foot showroom and fab shop near the junction of I-195 and Massachusetts state route 28.
Upon entering their modest but jam packed showroom, you have a kid in a candy store feeling. Front and center is one of their Roadsters. Behind that, a Type 65 coupe which was inspired by the original Daytona coupe. Factory 5 does not sell the complete cars, they merely sell the kits so you can build one yourself.
Once the liability waivers are signed, I, along with a couple of buddies I brought along, were ushered through a large grey door at the back of the showroom. If the front was a candy store feeling, the back was going into full Willy Wonka factory territory. The only real differences instead of sugar and chocolate, it’s fiberglass and metal. The first thing to be seen was the racks of chassis and bodies awaiting their new homes, but beyond that was where the process starts.
The first step is the chassis and it starts as a selection of square and round tubes in a jig. Each model has a specific jig, and a welder who specializes in that particular model. The above picture just happens to be for the Mk4 roadster. Each chassis and body is built for a specific customer with the options they want. For example an option of a solid axle or independent rear or having the car right hand drive. Also in this area, a CNC laser system cuts out all the metal body panels such as dashboards and inner fenders.
At the same time, the smaller body panels are laid up in fiberglass in another part of the shop. Once cured, they’re robotically trimmed. This is mainly for constancy and to help reduce production time. The main shells are fabbed up by another local company to Factory 5 specs and shipped in ready to go.
The last step before everything is packed up and shipped out is chassis pre assembly. This is where all the kit panels come together for the first time. Final bends are made and things are tweaked to make sure everything fits together perfectly for customer. In this picture, we see an 818 and a pair of GTM’s getting ready to go.
Finally, the kits are shipped out or picked up. Factory 5 has shipped kits to every state in the USA and several countries around the world. Each kit is not only assigned a production number, but the name of the person who has ordered it. This gentleman drove up from Maryland to snag his 818 that day and another was getting picked up by a local businessman from Carver, next town over.
The last stop on their tour was their R&D and special projects lab. I got a preview of a coming attraction for them. This will be aimed into DIY hypercar territory. The white mock-up will be set up to accept an LSX based V12 or a standard LS V8. Also in the works will be a one off drift truck based upon their ‘35 Truck kit for a well known American racing driver. That beast will be powered by a 900 hp V8 engine and be backed by six speed sequential transmission.
All too soon and a quick three hours later, it was time to head on home. One thing I’ve learned about Factory 5 is that they are passionate about what they do. They care as much about the kid just wants a sticker or two for his lunchbox as they do the guy who’s commissioning a custom project. Thank you to Dave and the entire Factory 5 crew for opening up their doors for an enthusiastic group of gear heads.
Info if you want to visit:
Address: 9 Tow Road
Wareham, MA 02571 (About an hour south of Boston)
Phone: (508) 291-3443
Showroom Hours: Monday thru Friday 9-5 / Saturday: 8-Noon
Factory tours are offered Saturday at 8 and 10 or weekdays by appointment.