Tag Archives: Factory Five

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?).


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.


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.


Base coat of “Wimbledon White” applied.


Tape over what will become the rally stripes.


First coat of “Guardsman Blue”.


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


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


Re-assemble body, doors and hood.


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.


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.)


At a rest stop in Connecticut.


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


And finally at home.




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).

10 Race Deck

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.


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.

Tire 1Tires 2

I also purchased and installed a battery.

Battery 1

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.).


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

Coolant 1Coolant 2Coolant 3

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.

Cake and GCake


Where Did October Go?

October came and went like a flash.  Family and work commitments prevailed, but I still managed to progress a few things on the build.

I completed installation of the power steering rack and steering shaft.  It was tricky to get the steering rack (and bushings) to fit into the bracket/flanges on the chassis.  At the same time I was lowering the rack into position, I had to push the steering shaft and adapter onto the rack.  In order to confirm that the steering wheel would be straight (or close to it), I temporarily mounted the steering wheel and tried to keep an eye on it while I conducted this complicated maneuver.  It all worked out fine.  IMG_5518IMG_5517Next I added the tie rods to the steering rack, and attached the tie rods to the steering arms.

IMG_5519Next up:  the fuel tank.  Interestingly, the assembly manual includes great detail about positioning and strapping up the fuel tank under the chassis, but includes absolutely no instructions or information about the various components that go in or on the fuel tank.  Since the photos in the manual show the tank being installed with all of the components already in place, I went to the internet to do some research   First, I installed the fuel tank vent (a valve loaded with a ball bearing – it lets air out of the tank when you put fuel in).  Next, I added the rubber fill neck and gasket (this will connect the fuel cap to the tank after the body is installed).  Then, the fuel level sender (the floater that will eventually send information to the fuel gauge on the dash).  Next, the fuel pump.  FFR does not provide a fuel pump with the kit, probably because the pump you need depends on what engine you go with.  I sourced my fuel pump from Breeze Automotive, a firm very familiar with FFR builds.  I told them about my intended engine and they recommended an in-tank pump.

What all of the components installed, I mounted the tank to the chassis.  This involved raising the tank in place with the floor jack, and bending the metal straps under and around the tank.  It was very difficult to bend the straps and get the bolts through the holes.

IMG_5520IMG_5522IMG_5523Next I started working the cockpit aluminum.  The process is quite slow and involves cleaning and fitting the sheet metal panels, marking and drilling many (many) holes, attaching the panels to the chassis and each other with “Clecos” (temporary rivets with origins in the aviation industry), taking it all apart (ugh!), preparing the metal pieces with protectant or paint, and finally re-assembling each piece with silicon and rivets.

Here you can see the first mock up of the passenger side footbox looking from the engine compartment.  Note the porcupine effect from use of the cleco pins.

IMG_5524And here is the passenger compartment from the side, the floor panel sitting in place. IMG_5525If you look carefully, you can see one of the seat belt bracket (attached to the frame) sticking through a hole in the floor.  Also, note the hole in the floor next to the transmission tunnel.  That is where the parking brake handle is supposed to be installed.  However, that is too difficult to reach from the driver’s seat, so I may try to locate the parking brake handle on top of the tunnel, next to the shifter, in which case I will patch the hole in the floor with a small piece of sheet metal.

Ultimately, I will probably cover all of the metal with sound/heat insulation, and the interior with carpet.

Pedal Box, Steering

In my last post, I was having trouble getting the rear brakes to fit properly.  I still have not figured it out.  I read all of the on-line forums.  I exchanged emails with FFR.  I spoke with a representative from Wilwood.  No clear answers.  I thought I had it solved when I ordered larger brake rotor adapter rings.  However, there is still something amiss among and between the brake brackets, calipers and rotors.  So I decided to move forward elsewhere on the car, and I will come back to the rear brakes later, perhaps with some external help.

Before installing any of the pedals, I had to install the front footbox driver-side aluminum panel.  Interestingly, the kit came with two (2) alternate panels for the same spot (each with different holes and cuts), and no explanation regarding which one to use.  After reviewing the on-line forums, I learned that one panel is used with a new Wilwood pedal assembly, while the other panel is used with donor Mustang pedals. I am using new Wilwood pedals.   Installing the panel involves marking and drilling holes for rivets, applying silicon to the back, and then riveting the panel in place.  Here is a pic of the front footbox panel installed.  IMG_5496Moving on to the pedals, I first had to modify them by:  (1) removing the threaded mount at the top of the clutch pedal (because that mount is for a hydraulic clutch, but I will be using a mechanical cable), and (2) mount the brake switch bracket and brake switch.  The brake switch is an electrical switch released when the brakes are applied, resulting in the exterior brake lights turning on.  I drilled a hole in the underside of the pedal assembly and attached the bracket and switch.  Here is a pic (you can see where the brake pedal will touch the white plastic tip of the brake switch):IMG_5499

Next I assembled the clutch quadrant – a series of metal pieces that come together like a jigsaw puzzle to hold and pull the clutch cable at the top of the clutch pedal.  Here is a pic (you can see the curved quadrant with three bolts through it). IMG_5500Fortunately (or unfortunately?), I realized that I installed the quadrant pieces backwards, so my son stepped in, took it apart and put it together correctly.  (Got lucky – he was home from college for the weekend and gave me a few minutes of his time.) IMG_5505Here is a pic of the clutch and brake pedal assembly attached to brackets and in place.IMG_5503Next I installed the first brake master cylinder above the pedal, threading the shaft into the mounts atop the brake pedal:IMG_5506And then the second brake master cylinder:IMG_5507And then on to the gas pedal.  The trick here is to mount the pedal and its upper arm so that the throttle cable goes straight through the hole in the firewall without rubbing and fraying.  Here you can see all three pedals in place (the gas pedal is on the right, black and harder to see):IMG_5509Nest I installed the throttle cable.  I had to cut an end off the cable kit, remove the wire cable from its sheath, thread the wire cable through the pedal, through the firewall and then back through the sheath. Here is a pic showing the cable attached to the pedal and passing through the firewall.  The other end will attach to the engine.  Can’t hardly wait.IMG_5510With the pedals in place, I started the steering system.  First, I loosely mounted the steering bearing in the footbox panel (you can see it just below the spot where the throttle cable is coming through).IMG_5512Then I loosely mounted the top pillow block on the chassis (just in front of where the steering wheel will sit someday).IMG_5513I installed the lower steering shaft by starting in the engine bay area, and going through the bearing in the footbox panel.  I inserted the upper steering shaft temporarily to see how it would all fit together.IMG_5514Next up is the steering rack which will connect the steering shaft to the steering arms on the front suspension – transferring the steering wheel movements to the wheels.  The kit came with a manual steering rack, but I sourced and hope to install a Mustang power steering rack, seen here on the floor.   IMG_5516

Rear Suspension (and rear brakes?)

Following the manual, I moved on to the rear suspension this week.

FFR offered several options.  I went with a solid axle (as opposed to independent rear suspension) and a 3-link rear system which has all 3 links running parallel to each other and a panhard bar to keep the axle centered.  See diagram.

3 link diagram

The 3 link is designed to keep the rear axle centered, and to keep the pinion angle from changing (keep the axle from rotating). It works especially well under hard acceleration.

I started with the 8.8 rear axle assembly(which weighs approximately 150 lbs).  Note the shiny chrome cover plate over the differentials (the “pumpkin”).

IMG_5444First I mounted brake caliper brackets to the collar mount at the end of the axle (gotta have brakes), then the traction lok brackets and the lower control arms to the axle.

IMG_5447Next I mounted the upper arm mount.  It is hard to see in the photo, but it is mid-axle and sticks out the back (waiting to receive the upper link bar).  The two halves of the arm mount around the axle with 4 bolts. The initial fit was not good and I spent a good amount of time fidgeting and filing before it all came together.  The upper arm mount also has a front attachment that goes under the axle and must be bolted to the flange of the “pumpkin”.  The assembly manual notes:  “This hole has some variance and may need to be drilled out from the bottom side…”  True dat.  I am going to research drill bit manufacturers and invest.


Next I attached the upper link bar to the upper arm and readied the axle assembly for installation. I muscled it onto the floor jack and prepared to lift.  But I noticed that the panhard bar frame mount was in the way.  That frame section is meant to go under the axle, so there was no way I was going to be able to maneuver the axle assemble around and above it.  So I removed the frame mount, to be re-mounted after the axle was in place.


Here is the axle assembly with the lower control arms, and center upper control arm, now bolted to the frame mounts (but still sitting on the floor jack).


Next I had to assemble and prepare the rear Koni coil-over shocks.  Note the “selfie” close ups of the final assembly step (inserting the retainer ring with snap ring pliers).

IMG_5454IMG_5457IMG_5458IMG_5455Here is the rear axle assembly fully suspended with rear shocks in place.

IMG_5461And finally, now with the panhard bar frame mount re-installed (running under the axle), and the panhard bar (see metal bar going side to side behind the axle) installed.  The upper control arm and panhard bar are adjustable and will have to set once I have the full weight of the vehicle resting on the tires.  (Same for the front alignment.)

IMG_5464In the photo above you can see the rear brake rotors in place, and the red brake caliper on the floor.  While the front brakes went on just as the assembly manual said they would, I am having a hard time with the rear brakes.  First, the holes in the rotors needed to be drilled out in order to fit over the studs/lugs, which required purchasing a hard to find bit size.  Done.  But now the calipers don’t seem to fit properly over the rotors.  I searched the on-line forum boards and read through several discussions of similar problems, none with clear solutions.  It felt like a good time to stop for the night.  Tomorrow I will re-read the manual, check the on-line forums, re-check my work, and call FFR if necessary.

Once I get those rear brakes mounted, the next step is building the “pedal box” (the gas pedal, brake pedal, clutch pedal assembly, brake cylinders, accelerator cable, etc.) and then on to the steering system.