Factory Five Racing is by far the largest manufacturer of component kit cars in the world, and now they are one of the oldest. Celebrating their 20th open house anniversary, Factory Five is set to usher in a new future for custom kit cars.
22 years and running, it’s amazing that a kit car company can last that long. Then you see the size of the operation and it all becomes even more impressive. If you haven’t heard of Factory Five before they are most widely known for building a replica version of the famed Shelby Cobra. Yet now they have a slew of models to offer for almost every budget. What firmly plants Factory Five at the front of the pack is the build quality of their cars. They may be kit cars, but they look and feel like just as good, if not better, than those they are designed off of.
The perfect example of this is their newest design, the Mark 3 Type 65 Coupe. The ‘Type 65’ is based solely on the Shelby Daytona race car used to compete in the 1964 & 1965 GT Division of Le Mans racing. It was the first car to give the legendary Shelby Racing their first international title, making it the first American company to do so. From there we all now how the famed GT40 stole the limelight, but the fact is the Daytona came first.
With only 6 cars ever being built for racing it’s no wonder that a replica was made, and boy did Factory Five do a great job. The first two generations were very similar to the original Daytona’s from the 60’s, with some changes being made to make them road legal. But now for the Mark 3 we are seeing an all new design that merges both the timeless looks of the 65 body with an all new frame design that makes it oh so much better.
The chassis is now a square tube space frame design that gives the Mark 3 7-times the lateral stiffness of over the previous generation. If you elect for the race package that will double that figure, putting you at 14 times stiffer. Factory Five is calling this chassis their own personal wave of the future, hinting at the inclusion of this design on models that are coming down the pipeline. After they brought us cars like the 818 I can’t wait to see what they come up with. But let’s get back to the car in question, the Mark 3.
The frame isn’t just stiffer, it’s also wider. This allowed Factory Five to remedy one of the biggest issues with the Type 65, its footwells. I remember sitting in both a Type 65 and one of the older Roadster(Cobra) when I was just 16 years old. I was so excited, I wanted to own one so bad! Then I quickly realized two major pitfalls in that theory. First was that at my height, 6ft, I barely fit inside either. I actually didn’t fit, but my enthusiasm for the for their cars forced its way inside. Yet once I was crammed into the seat I realized the next major issue, the footwell. I couldn’t get my clown feet in any sort of position to actually be able to drive the thing. Possibly if I removed my shoes, but even then it would be tight. It was devastating, but at least I can say that I have sat in one.
Thankfully for us taller folks, that is all said to be remedied with this newer chassis. The new space frame design utilizes smaller diameter frame tubing which allowed for substantially more room in the foot well. This also allowed for the floor to be lowered by 2.5-inches, giving the cockpit some much-needed space. Combine that with the frame also being slightly wider and you are left with a cockpit that should easily fit any average sized American. While this does make the Type 65 more comfortable it hasn’t made it softer. These improvements have made for a better center of gravity, improved aerodynamics from the flat floors, and even made better room for things like exhaust and larger fuel cells. All good things.
The Mark 3 Type 65 comes in at just 2,400lbs, not bad considering the hardware it can run. Being a kit car you can build your Type 65 to whatever spec you desire, sourcing parts from Mustangs old or new. If you plan on doing it right you will find yourself using parts from the new Coyote Mustangs. The Type 65 will accept the 420hp 5.0 Coyote with no problems, and you can even use the Mustangs new high-tech independent rear suspension system. That means you will essentially be shedding 1300lbs, as well as shortening your wheelbase from a stock 2017 GT. That sounds like a lot of fun too me.
Factory Five offers two different packages for the Type 65, the ‘Base’ and the ‘Complete Kit’. While the Base kit does come in a little cheaper at just under $17,000, the Complete is really the way to go at $22,000. With the complete, you get everything you need except your choice of engine, transmission, rear end, wheels, and tires. Oh and of course the free time and space to take on such a product.
It’s nice to see a company like Factory Five continuing to evolve its product when it could so easily stay stagnant. After 22 years they still have the perfect formula, build it yourself and get an amazing product at the end. The hard decision is whether you should do it or not, it’s more like which engine should you use.