Build Session 2 (gel coat)

In this next session the kit starts to resemble a car and will finally be registered and road worthy.  This portion of the build I will be fitting the body components, final fit of all of the systems and completing a roadworthy car (thru inspection).  The entire body will need to be removed for paint but I was able to get a season of driving in before that phase of the build.    In session 3 I will have documented the series of upgrades and finishing that are currently in the completed car.

This session starts with the Go-Cart.  The car has been started and driven at this point.  The running gear was completely tested and fine tuned as this is the best time to make repairs or modifications.  It is not required to have the body on the car to drive it.  The Vinylesther body and components are decorative and an aerodynamic feature.  The Roadster (as well as all of the other Factory Five Kits) are designed with un-stressed bodys.  The Frame takes all of the load.

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Go Cart

I needed some help for this next step (body installation).  I called in some experts from the FFCobra Forum and we spent the day fitting the body, talking about cars and forming new friendships.  Over the upcoming years many enjoyable cruise days will be spent with these new friends.

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Body Installation
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Body Installation
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Body Installation
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Body On

After the body is aligned and secured work begins on mounting and installing all of the finishing items.  Below you will see the sidepipes, lighting, interior, doors, trunk and hood.  The components all require final fitting and alignment.  This portion of the build is very time consuming but enjoyable as it becomes a car right before your eyes.

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Side Pipes

In this picture you can see the sharp seams in the body.  This will need to be finished properly.

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Roll Bar
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Rear Finishing

As I was planning on getting the car registered prior to final paint, I needed to smooth out the seams due to the CT DMV regulation of “no sharp protrusions” of something like that.  Here is the section where I ground the seams and properly filled them cutting out that step for the painter (saving some cash).

I used a 1/2″ diameter stone on a air grinder and carefully, following the seams, removed the gel coating out of the seam taking it down to the raw vinylesther.  This was then filled with 3M marine filler, tape off a boarder as this stuff is hard to remove.  I then topped that with Rage Gold body filler sanded and painted the seams.  The car looked like it had a bad black paint job (OK for now).

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Grinding the Seams
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Grinding the Seams

Aligning the hood.  I masked the edges and scribed a line around the parimeter.  I then used a belt sander to take the edges down to the fit lines that I scribed.  This gets it close, you then just need to clean it up and round it off.  Don’t forget to allow for paint build-up.  This needs to be done for the Hood, Trunk, Doors and most of the cut-outs.

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Hood Alignment

FFR sells racecars.  If you want to get them registered in your state, it is up to you to provide the required details to pass inspection.

Below is a reverse light installation.  CT does not require them but now is the time to install it.   I used the back-up light out of a Mini Cooper.  I think they look the best.

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Back-up Light
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Back-up Light
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Back-up Light

The trunk makes a great workbench

Here you can see how I masked off the ground seams so that the Marine Filler only went where I wanted it.  This stuff is very difficult to remove if you make a mistake.

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Fill Seams
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Fill Seams

I removed the masking then re-masked out 1″ further on either side.  This was to fill in with the Rage Gold Body filler.  After sanding that smooth, I masked out another inch per side and painted the area black to match the gel-coat.

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Seams Prepped for Filler
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Seams Prepped for Filler
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Finished Painted
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Finished Painted Seams

Grinding and filling the seams as well as fitting all of the components (Doors, Hood & Trunk) saved me about $1000 as the painter reduced the cost of his normal fee because these tasks were properly completed.

During this part of the build process the finish aluminum panels can get installed (they needed the body put on first).

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Interior Door Sils Aluminum Trim
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Radiator Aluminum Trim
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Rear Splash Gaurds

The splash gaurds do a pretty good job, but in heavy rain water still manages to work it’s way up your leg.

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Front Splash Gaurds

With all or most of the aluminum panels in place it is now time to install the finishing touches.  For the interim assembly, I opted not to use the nice carpet from the kit as it would need to be removed when I disassemble the car for paint.  I picked up some cheap carpet from Home Depot.  The trunk carpet is not included in the kit but was installed as a finishing touch and to keep down the noise.

Great way to practice

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Interior Finishing
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Trunk Carpet

It’s getting close.  Next is the fitting an installation of the windshield.  Now it looks like a car (Finally)

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You can see the distributor in the hood scoop.

Windshield Front

Here is the windshield wiper, a requirement for the state of CT.

You only need to have one, on the drivers side, so I purchased a wiper / motor assembly from a marine supply company.  This one is pretty good, self parking, two speed.  Later in the build I was able to reverse the position of the park.  I was sure to drill the wiper hole in the proper position used for the FFR Duel wiper kit just in case I decide to spend the $$’s in the future for the authentic wipers.

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I opted not to use the mirror from the kit.  It mounted onto the front fender and I did not want to drill any more holes in the body.  The mirrors that I used came from Speedway Motors (4″ Peep Mirror) and I was able to mount then directly onto the windshield supports.  I think these look much better.

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Side View Mirrors

Now it is on to the Dashboard.  I went with the standard gage set-up (not the competition).  Again, I will end up recovering this when I re-assemble the car for the final time.  This will be for practice using cheap vinyl from the fabric store.

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Dash Blank

Using 3M contact cement, the vinyl is attached to the dash blank.  Next the cut-outs are trimmed and folded away

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Dash Blank Trimmed

The gages and switches now get installed and wired.  I did not go crazy wiring them at this point as they would need to come back out in the fall.  I just ran a birds nest of wires into plugs.

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Dash With Gages

Here the dash in installed into the car and connected.  The hand crafted glovebox will need more work.  You will see that later in the finished car a very nice box was fabricated & installed (thanks Jerry)

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Dash In Car

Some interior finishing touches include Cup Holders, Ash Tray, battery Cut-Off switch

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Dash In car

Here are some shots of the completed car (in gel coat).  Now I need to get her ready for the big show (Connecticut DMV)

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Bootleg Plate (not Registered yet)

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Now it is on the the CT, DMV.  This was one of the most stressfull days of my life.  The inspector took 4 hours and went over every little thing.

The Connecticut FFR owners have put together a “pass-around-kit”.  This was the brain child of “Iski” who explained the problem that CT guys were having regarding the FFR  side pipe lenght.  The tip of the pipes MUST extend past the back of the door opening.  In the FFR kit it does not.  Iski approched Dave Smith regarding this problem and Dave graciously donated a set of side pipes that Iski quickly lengthened and added side shields (perfect for CT).   This was the birth of the pass-around-kit.  The kit also includes a shift knob with the shift pattern, Stick-on side mirrors and reflectors.  Here are two pictures of the car: 1)  With standard FFR Side Pipes, 2)  With the Pass-Around Side Pipes

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FFR STD Side Pipes

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Pass-Around Pipes

When you need to use the Pass-Around-Kit, Please remember to thank Iski.  

I do not have a lot of respect for the inspectors.  I met 3 of them during the 4 hours that I was there and they all seem to think that they make the rules, they have a level of percieved authority and they use that to intimidate you.  I eventually met the supervisor and he was a real great guy but the subordiantes are just plain old bastards.

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4 months of building to this point.


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The following weekend we took the first trip in the car.  150 mile shake-down

other than driveshaft binding, all went well.

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At Bill & Diane's

Continue following along with the next session.  The car will be disassembled for paint and upgraded.


Published on November 8, 2009 at 1:21 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. good job Doug, a very nice car, you can be proud of yourself

  2. Doug: I love the build log. Thanks for sharing :-).

    -Jared (Dangurneyforpresident)

  3. Too funny. I met Doug yesterday (10.08.11) in West Dover VT, where he gave me the inside scoop on the Factory Five Cobras. I’ve been interested in a kit car for over 20 years and, with Doug’s time, passion and information, I’ve decided to pull the trigger on the FFR. I was researching this topic and came across Doug’s log. I’ll be riding with Doug’s Cobra team in the near future!

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