Category Archives: Kit Cars

Finish Line! (February 8, 2017)

Hello Friends! Long time no talk.  I last updated this blog before Thanksgiving (2+ months ago) when I brought the Coupe back from the painter.  Since then, I was able to get it all back together and complete, and I ran the gauntlet of getting it registered and legal in Pennsylvania.  So as of today I am proud to share that my replica 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe is complete, legal, legit and roadworthy.  (Too bad the weather forecast for Eastern Pennsylvania is 6-8 inches of snow for tomorrow!)  Now lets go back in time…

Once I got the Coupe back from paint and in my garage at Thanksgiving, I was able to re-assemble the parts I previously removed for paint, mainly the lights and misc exterior pieces.  I worked hard to not scratch the paint.  Easy does it…  One slip of the screwdriver and – ouch!  I also applied the sponsor decals (because who doesn’t like stickers?).

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In mid-December I trailered the car out to Mark Dougherty’s garage in Hershey and we put in a full weekend.  With his knowledge and assistance we were able to complete the heating/AC system lines, the wheel wells, the carpeting, the Russ Thompson pontoon covers, and lots of other misc bits.  I also came to the realization that the period-correct bullet-style side view mirrors were completely useless.  Several people had warned me, but I had to find out for myself.  Mark had an extra set of Hyabusa motorcycle side view mirrors.  Not period-correct, but I can actually see something!

I trailered the Coupe East on the PA Turnpike back to Bucks County through some snow.  The Coupe got messy, but it was fun cleaning it up.

Getting the Coupe legal was daunting, but ultimately worked out fine.  First, I made an appointment and trailered the Coupe to a special Pennsylvania state inspection site qualified to inspect reconstructed vehicles, specialty cars (like this one), etc.  The inspector spent about one hour looking her over, under, in and out. Safety inspection only, no exhaust emissions test required.   He filled out his forms.  He reviewed 4 photos of the Coupe (front, back and both sides as required for submission to the state) and initialed them.  I paid a fee.  I was on my way. (I also had him charge the AC system while I was there.)

Next I went to a auto tag place.  They reviewed my stack of paperwork including a certificate of origin from FFR, a thick stack of receipts for parts, photos, the inspection form, etc.  They calculated what taxes I might owe (for any components or parts not previously taxed), and they completed several forms.  I cut several checks, and off the package went to Harrisburg (state capital) for processing.

Two weeks later I received an envelope from Harrisburg with a title and vehicle identification number (VIN).  Interestingly the state used the FFR chassis serial number as my VIN.  I was hoping the title would say “’65 Shelby,” but no such luck.  It says 2017, Special Construction, Coupe.  Whatever.  At least its legal…  🙂

Several days later, the auto-tag place called to say that they had my new license plate.

With the title (and insurance) now in hand, I drove the coupe back to the inspection center and got the inspection sticker for the windshield – the final piece of the puzzle.

I left the inspection site with my sticker. Despite a winter storm forecast fee following day, it was a mild and sunny day, so…  I took the long way home. 🙂   It was great driving the Coupe on the road.  It is low, stiff, and loud, and I love it. In a 30 minute period I had collected 5 horn honks and 3 thumbs up from fellow motorists.

I still needed to calibrate the speedometer by driving the Coupe for exactly 2 miles.  So I entered the ramp to I-95, pulled to the shoulder at a mile marker, triggered the calibration setting, drove exactly 2 miles, hit the button again, and with that the speedo was set and the Coupe was complete.

There are still things to do, things to tighten, tweak, improve, tune, etc.  But she is done.  Now I just wait for Spring and some longer drives.  I joined the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) so I can try the autocross events soon.  Stay tuned.

That car looks great and is a blast to drive.  But more than that, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  I am very proud.  FFR’s tagline is “Built, not bought.”  And I get it.  I learned so much, and I truly enjoyed the journey, even the frustrating parts.

One question hangs at the back of my mind.  It has been haunting me for a while, even well before I finished.  What will I do when the car is done?  What is my next project?  I don’t know.  Maybe another car?  Not sure.  There is no hurry.  I will enjoy this for a while.

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Back from the Paint Shop! (November 2016)

I left the coupe with Ron Randall at Metal-Morphous in Connecticut on June 25.  It has been a very long four and a half months, but I am extremely happy with the results.  Ron and his crew did an amazing job aligning the doors and hood, sanding, sealing, and painting.  Here are just a few of the photos that Ron sent to me through the process, as well as some photos of my bring her home.

Body off the chassis and application of gelcoat.  Note the louvres I obtained for the side vents.

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Base coat of “Wimbledon White” applied.

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Tape over what will become the rally stripes.

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First coat of “Guardsman Blue”.

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Remove the tape, reveal the stripes, apply clear coat for shine..

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Polish, clear coat, polish, clear coat, and repeat many times for an even deeper shine.

 

Re-assemble body, doors and hood.

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In addition to body and paint, I asked Ron to install the headliner material for me (before putting the body back on the chassis), as well as the side windows (“side curtains”) because that went hand-in-hand with the final fitting of the doors.  I also had his guy install the windshield and gasket for me.

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I arrive to pick up the coupe and I am ecstatic.  We go over the car.  Hard to see in these pics, but the hood scoops and rear spoiler are attached via metal screws.  Some guys prefer to use fiberglass to blend these pieces seamlessly into the shape of the body, but I prefer the screws for that “old school” feel and look.  (The original coupes were hammered out of metal and rivets.)  I ask Ron and Pedro to apply the race numbers for me.  (I will apply the sponsor decals later.  They are smaller and easier to handle.)

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At a rest stop in Connecticut.

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What it looks like when a 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe tailgates you all the way from Connecticut to Pennsylvania.

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And finally at home.

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Body Work (July 31 2016)

At the time of my last update I had just dropped off the Coupe at Metal Morphous (MM) in Connecticut.  Since then MM has provided me with weekly updates, and I was able to stop by last week while travelling in that vicinity.  MM is being very deliberate and methodical.  When sanding down the “seams”, they are careful to discover any air (or gas) pockets that may have developed in the original fiberglass mold process. MM advises that such pockets are typical, but that if you paint without filling them, they will later reveal themselves as defects in the paint job.  1 air bub2 air bub

MM is filling the air pockets, but that requires re-glassing, time for curing, re-sand, wash, repeat, etc.

I was pleased to see how MM was able to significantly improve the fitting of the doors and hood.  The lines/gaps are looking great.

In the meantime, I prepped the remaining metal parts (door sills, wheel wells/splash guards, etc.) by cleaning and coating with Sharkhide.  I also found someone to bind the edges of the carpet that will sit on the hatch floor area (so I can flip it up for access, without it fraying).

I also took the opportunity to re-do the floor of my garage.  I used Racedeck brand garage floor tiles.  I designed a checkered pattern with a blue outline for each bay.  The whole tiles go down fairly easy, snapping together.  The partial tiles take a little time to measure and cut, but overall a fairly easy project (and not much more expensive than the high end garage floor paints if you do the proper acid-wash etching first).

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I hope to see primer and paint on the Coupe in August, and have her back in the garage for final assembly some time in September.

 

Off to Paint (June 25, 2016)

Work in May and June has been geared towards getting the car ready to go to the body/paint shop.  There will still be work to do after the paint (re-assemble all exterior pieces, prep and install firewall extensions, wheel wells, door sills, carpeting, etc.).  However, getting the car to paint is a major milestone.

I completed the metal duct work in front of the radiator.  FFR provided no guidance regarding how to fit these pieces.  I may want to add a fan shroud later to maximize air flow through the radiator.1 radiator metal2 radiator metal

With the hood up, engine is looking splendid.  Sounds great too.

I set the rear hatch glass in place.  My son Zach helped adjust the u-bolt to catch the lock handle.  The FFR manual says to bolt the struts to a chassis tube.  But that is difficult because at this stage the tube is hidden under the fiberglass body and the metal sides of the hatch.

I fitted the headlight covers.  The plexi provided is over-sized and I spent an entire day gently grinding down the edges to make the fit as nice as possible.  Here the covers are fitted with clecos.  I will have to remove them before paint.

I removed the body (which required removing the side pipes, and seats) so I could do a few more things:  added weather-stripping where the body sits on the chassis, added Dynamat sound barrier to the ceiling (to be covered by the headliner), and completed the metal around the pedal box.  I cut a large hole on the top panel for future access to the pedals, brake cylinders, throttle cable, clutch cable, etc. and I created a panel cover door.  The firewall extension metal will overlap the access door, but I plan to install the firewall extensions with screws to make that removable also. 12 ftbx metal

While the body was off I took apart the dash, removing all gauges and switches, in order to prep the dash pieces for powder-coating..  11.1 dash11 dash

I took the dash pieces to Bonehead Performance in Warrington, PA and selected a flat black wrinkle coating. Here is the dash and switch panel re-assembled after powder-coating.  17 dash

I also took the side-pipes to Bonehead Performance and had them ceramic coated in a silver paint.  The traditional Coupe look is white for the pipes, but I went with silver as a matter of personal choice.

Mark Dougherty (The Travelling Builder) spent a day with me.  We connected the fuel filler neck to the Le Mans gas cap.  FFR provides a metal pipe from the tank which is too long.  I removed it from the fuel tank and we cut it down with the angle grinder.  Then we tossed the straight piece of fuel hose provided by FFR and used a 45 degree one instead.  (Thanks to a post on the forum suggesting the 45 degree hose.)  We also worked through 50% of the A/C system and hoses.  Still more to do there.  One last look at the Coupe before I take it apart for paint.  side-18 drive

Finally, I loaded the coupe on a Uhaul trailer and pulled it to Metal Morphous in North Haven CT.  Here is the Coupe riding my tail.  19 mirror

Ron at MM will do the final fitting of the body, hood and doors, prep and paint (going with the traditional Guardsman Blue with white rally stripes and gumballs),  and will install the spoiler and scoops.  I also asked Ron to install the headliner after paint and before he puts the body back on.  That should save me some pain.

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Once Ron has the body and hood off for prep and paint, I may try to bring the chassis back to PA so I can finish off the A/C system, and do a few other things (i.e. install the carpeting, add padding to the roll cage, etc.)  If so, I will have to make another trip to bring the chassis back to him when he is ready to re-install the painted body pieces.

In the meantime, I have some A/C fitting to order, and I need to get some sections of the carpet bound.  I am also using the opportunity to upgrade my garage floor to Racedeck tiles.  Until next update, peace out, or drop the mic, or something trendy.

 

 

 

 

January Update (January 31, 2016)

I was not as productive as I thought I would be in January, perhaps because I lost two weekends to a family vacation (not complaining).

I completed the fuel line and brake lines.  (Perhaps in the next few weeks I will add fluids and see if it holds.)

I purchased tires.  I went with Nitto NT 555 G2.  These are the newer version of the NT 555.  Rears are 315/35/17.  Fronts are 245/45/17.  It was exciting to see them mounted.  I am very happy with how the rims look.  Maybe later I will consider stenciling the “Good Year” billboard lettering.

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I also purchased and installed a battery.

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I am slowly moving forward with the electrical wiring harness connections.  I purchased heavy duty toggles for all functions from Ron Francis, and I am working up a switch panel.  I also purchased a few additional electronic components (clutch safety switch, battery cut-off switch, turn-signal delay box, etc.).

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I worked on the cooling system, connecting the radiator hoses and overflow/expansion tank.

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And this week I am celebrating a birthday.  Check out the amazing cake my wife commissioned at a local bakery.  As much as I enjoyed eating it, I would rather be driving it.

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Engine!! (November 28, 2015)

Despite busy times at work and home, I made a lot of progress this month.  The engine is the big news, but a lot of other things are going on as well.

The engine – built by Engine Factory, a New Jersey business specializing in crate engines for kit cars like mine – is based on a Ford small block 8 cylinder, a “302 stroker.”  The cylinders are bored out, making it a 331 stroker, with fuel injection, Cobra dressings, and capable of generating 415 hp – more than enough for such a light vehicle.   EF sent me photos of the engine during testing:IMG_9414IMG_9404

 

They also posted a link of a video of the engine starting, running, growling and howling on a facebook site:  https://www.facebook.com/MuscleCarEngines/videos/vb.119427678989/10153304985968990/?type=2&theater

Knowing that the engine delivery was quickly approaching, I worked quickly to prep.

First, I finally sorted out the rear brakes.  You may recall that I was unable to get the rear brake calipers over the rotors.  They were not lining up, and despite many calls and emails with FFR and Wilwood, sending pics, etc., Nobody could figure it out.  Well, it turns out it was 1/4″ of powder coating on the remanufactured rear axle that was throwing it all off.  About 15 minutes of filing and the brakes were on. IMG_5526

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Next I hustled to complete the cockpit aluminum panels and firewall.  It would be impossible to get those done after the engine was in.  Here they are:IMG_5539

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The transmission arrived.  It is a Tremec TKO 600 5-Speed.  I requested a mid-shifter set up, moving the placement of the shifter forward.

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And then the engine arrived!

 

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The next step was to lift the engine with a hoist, and mate the transmission.  Special thanks to Mark Dougherty for use of his hoist and amazing car building skills.IMG_5548

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With the engine and transmission mated, we maneuvered the engine/trans over the chassis, under the firewall and through the transmission tunnel. IMG_5558

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And then it was in!IMG_5560

The transmission in the tunnel.IMG_5561

 

IMG_5562I installed the drive shat between the transmission and the rear axle.   Here is a pic of the tunnel cover altered.  I cut a new hole for the forward shifter, patched the old hole, and cut in two cup holders.  Not very pretty, but it will all be covered by black carpet.

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Then I installed a power steering fluid reservoir (March) and an upgraded 2-quart radiator overflow tank (Canton).IMG_5583

I cut access panel holes in the rear compartment floor for access to the fuel pump, light connections, etc.  I also cut holes for possible speakers in the rear side panels.

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IMG_5566I installed a stainless steel front-mount battery tray.  (FFR suggests putting the battery in the rear, over the gas tank, but it makes more sense under the hood.)IMG_5586

I purchased a second brake fluid reservoir and installed both side by side. IMG_5584

I started to mount the headers to the engine block, but I found that the mounting surface on the headers was uneven and therefore defective.  FFR is sending me new ones.

I was not happy with the location of the emergency brake handle, and there are no good options, so I am planning to install an electronic e-brake, using a push button on the dash.

Looking ahead, I have a lot of plumbing to do:  brake lines, fuel lines, power steering fluid lines, etc.   And the electrical system, cooling system, air conditioning, etc.

In the meantime, I started to mock up the dashboard layout and center console.  I am not impressed with the switches provided with the kit.  They are lightweight, and don’t match.  I will probably source some heavier matching switches.

 

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That all for now.