I'd Do Different the Next Time Around
a great time building this car, but I definitely could have saved some
time, money and aggravation if I would have know a few of these tidbits
in advance. Hopefully this can help you avoid some of my mistakes. If
you are thinking about building a Factory Five you should know that
the new Mark IV kits are greatly improved compared to mine. The Smith
brothers really do seem to be committed to improving their products
and it shows in the Mark IV Roadster (They don't call them Cobras anymore).
The new car has an improved body and stronger frame with improvements
to the front control arms, rear control arm mounts and added structural
tubing in the foot boxes and transmission tunnel. Check out the FFR's
website for a long list of improvements.
Start with a cleaner donor Mustang. I've spent a lot of time and money
cleaning and repairing or replacing parts from the donor. These include:
shocks, gas tank, brake rotors, wheels,ball joints,spring isolators.
You get the idea. I'm not sure how practical this is since the newest
suitable donors are nine years old now, but try and get the best parts
Order the frame unpainted and paint it with POR
15 or better yet, order it powdercoated. The paint on my frame was
literally falling off in some places so it needed to be repainted. I
used spray cans and I'm happy with the way it looks, but it's not as
tough as I'd like. I think the POR 15 would hold up much better and
it looks pretty good even when it's brushed on.
I would NEVER attempt to clean and strip the donor wheels again. I'm
happy with they way they finally turned out , but what a pain in the
ass. This has been the hardest part of building this whole car. I think
the donor turbine wheels make a reasonably good looking wheel but if
they aren't in decent shape, buy some nice 17" Cobra R's.
I changed the ball joints because one of the boots was torn. I found
out later that the original ball joints are a very high quality pre-lubricated
type that was probably much better than the ones I replaced them with.
I found some Energy Suspension replacement boots later that would have
been much cheaper. If you do need to change the ball joints consider
getting Ford Racing replacement control arms from Five
Star Ford. By the time you add up the cost of replacing the ball
joints, bushings and refinishing the old arms it comes very close to
Five Star's price.
I had two of the steering shaft extensions welded and neither one was
straight enough to use. The weld on the second shaft actually broke
when I tried to straighten it. I ended up buying a solid one piece shaft
for $80 from Tristate Motorsports. My advice would be to buy the one
piece shaft from the start. If you have the donor shaft welded, use
sleeves and pins to make sure it's straight and wont come apart. (As
I noted in my journal, FFR now ships a full length shaft with the kit
so this isn't an issue with new kits.)
Buy a universal joint for the lower steering shaft from Stock
Car Products (wooua-106 565-26). It does the same thing as the Flaming
River rag joint replacement for about $100 less. Not as pretty, but
just as functional. See my cost
spreadsheet for some other ways to save a few bucks if this is a
I wouldn't have wasted my time trying to make Corbeau's Classic II seat
fit in my Cobra.
I wouldn't use the Ford Racing heavy duty clutch. I dread getting caught
in traffic jams since it requires so much pressure. For a mildly built
5.0 the stock Mustang clutch works fine and requires much less pressure.
I'd use a power brake booster / master cylinder
from a Mercury Villager. This requires modifying the frame but it's
an easy modification. The stock Mustang master cylinder without the
power booster works fine but the Villager MC gives you the added advantage
of power brakes and a remote filler.
I went through at least five wire brushes for my bench grinder when
I was cleaning up my donor parts. These were your standard run of the
mill brushes that shoot little metal wires into your face when they
wear out. I splurged on the last one and bought the deluxe model with
bunches of twisted wire strands. It costs about $15.00 instead of $7.00
but it is worth every penny. No more wires sticking out of my nose.
I'd probably install rear coil over shocks to make adjusting the ride
height easier. It's a pain to adjust with the stock rear springs but
luckily you don't have to do it very often. 2010 Update: I installed Factory Five's new Koni coil overs last year. They make adjusting the ride height MUCH easier and provide a better ride than the Mustang springs. I'd highly recommend going with coil overs from the start.
Specify a time frame in the contract for body work! I
wasted ten months and a lot of money by putting my faith in a guy that
was unwilling to make my car a priority. I would highly recommend dealing
with a body shop that has experience with Factory Five bodies. Check
FFCobra.com for recommendations
in your area.