What makes a true enthusiast? Doing your own maintenance and mods are good places to start, but when you want to take your passion to the next level, you have to build your own project from the ground up. Right now, the hottest producer of DIY project/kit cars is Factory Five Racing. The Massachusetts-based company has a solid portfolio of products with classic looks, and fully modern performance. Cars like the ‘33 Hot Rod and Mk4 Roadster could blow away a C6 Corvette on the track, and still look at home next to a Split-Window Coupe at a ride night. But if you wanted something more contemporary in the aesthetic department, Factory Five has you covered too. It is called the 818 and it’s going to stir up the sportscar world.
To this point, Factory Five has been a very American-focused car company. Its main business is here, and so the cars are tailored to our V8-thirsty classic car market. In the last several years, overseas demand has grown, to a fifth of its sales in 2012.
Head over to your local salvage yard and you could find enough small block V8s to build a fort. Brand new crate engines are easy to come by too, and relatively inexpensive. This is not so overseas, where tighter emission regulations and the realities of market share mean small blocks are in even smaller supply. But there is a particular performance car that is available the world over. The Subaru WRX can be found in just about every country in the world, and in somewhat high supply too. Factory Five CEO, Dave Smith saw this and got to thinking. He put his team to work, and the result was the 818, and to make one of these mid-engined racers, you have to be into cannibalism.
Not real cannibalism, obviously. We don’t get like that…anymore. No, you have to be willing to tear down a WRX, stripping it of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering linkage. Basically, you’re using all the really good parts of a WRX. Those innards are then installed, onto Factory Five’s computer-designed tube frame chassis, by the buyer, of course.
Though the pieces are from a WRX, the car does not share the same front-engine, AWD setup of its surrogate. The 818 is a mid-engined, rear wheel drive machine. So how do they too that? The turbocharged boxer engine sits right behind the driver, with the transmission reversed, and nothing coupled to the power takeoff that would typically send power to the front wheels. (As a side note, that means there is a power takeoff to nowhere at the rear of the car. Some mad engineering genius will find a way to utilize that as a legit power takeoff. Fastest farm equipment ever? We can get with that.)
The car is in its final testing phases, and the video provided shows some gnarly shakedown work. The red car is back in Factory Five’s garage, completely torn apart, for the final tweaks before the go live with the car. On paper, the car sounds like a blast. If past experience is any indicator it will handle like an angry little bastard of lightweight goodness. Sopping wet, it barely tips the scales at 1,800 pounds. That sounds like our kind of time.
Factory Five has already sold 100 cars, and will surely sell more, but that’s never enough for Smith. He admits there are some things that he would like to improve, such as replacing Subarus complicated wiring harnesses with a custom assembly. Luckily the size of the company allows it to be nimble and retool rather quickly. That said, Factory Five is growing, and just purchased a new laser cutter, which is Dave’s pride and joy. (Really, if we did not mention it, we would never hear the end of it!) We like CEOs who get excited about stuff like that, and Dave has us excited about the 818. Massachusetts is still digging itself out of mountains of snow, but when its warm and dry enough, we’ll be down at Factory Five giving the 818 a shakedown of our own.