FFR Cobra Roadster and Type 65 Coupe - Two Built to the Highest Standard
Curtis Tung's FFR Cobra Roadster, Russ Thompson's FFR Type 65 Coupe
July 25, 2007
By D. Brian Smith
The allures of kit car creation and ownership are many. For those of us who aren't millionaires, the notion that you can build exactly what you want for much less than the original car is appealing. Only six original Daytona Coupes were built. They're worth well into the millions of dollars. Depending upon their pedigree, genuine Cobra 427SCs garner from the high-six figure range all the way into the millions. If one is mega affluent, paying such prices is possible. If not, we car nuts can dream our lives away on an automobile we'll never be able to afford. Another alternative is to do some research, decide what kit we'd like to build, take a leap of faith, roll up our sleeves, and get to work. That's exactly the sort of approach both of these Northern California dwellers took.
Russ Thompson has completed two Factory Five Racing cars. His first effort was a mighty nice FFR roadster with a 302ci Ford small-block V-8 that's pumped up with a Powerdyne supercharger. It's no slouch in the looks, performance, or enjoyment departments. To keep the roadster company in the garage, Russ already had an original '65 Ford Mustang 2+2, with a four-speed trans. But, not long after finishing the roadster, he missed the creativity, artistry, engineering effort, and challenging work of envisioning and building a replica.
Given the positive experience he had putting together the FFR roadster, Russ went back to Factory Five and ordered a Type 65 Daytona Coupe replica with all the options available at the time, for $19,900. This price included the IRS option and pin drive PS Engineering wheels all the way around. Four years passed, and with two solid years of build time, Russ had a Type 65 that won Best of Show at Knotts' in '06, and top honors at almost every show where the Coupe competed. Not counting his sweat equity, he spent approximately $50,000. We reckon he has one of the nicest Daytona Coupe replicas in the country, if not the nicest. His money, time, and effort were well spent. According to Russ, a bachelor, his hobby cars are his kids. The only difference is, he might sell one, only to afford buying and building another. That speaks to how much he enjoys the kit car build process.
The Rookie & The Roadster
You could say the enthusiast car gene was lying dormant in Curtis Tung, of Alameda, California. Over 30 years ago his first auto was a most respectable '69 Chevelle SS396 that he yanked the motor from, had rebuilt, and put back. An accountant by profession, Curtis loved old cars. But, being a family man with a wife and two kids, he didn't deem it wise to pursue the car of his dreams, a '65 Cobra 427SC. His reasoning was sound: real Cobras cost every bit as much as his nice Northern California suburban house is worth. If you know what NorCal real estate is going for these days, that's saying something.In 2003, Curtis attended the Hot August Nights car show in Reno, Nevada. At the event, he always seemed to find that several extremely well-constructed Factory Five Racing Cobra roadsters surrounded him. A dark blue 427SC replica, in particular, caught his eye. The roadster's owner was your typical enthusiastic kit car guy. He let Curtis sit in the driver seat, which set the hook. When Curtis returned home from the show, he asked his wife, Mary, for her opinion, which was: "You should do it now while you still have the time and energy."
Given the green light, Curtis researched the roadsters on www.ffcobra.com, a Web forum of Factory Five enthusiasts and owners. Initially, his plan was to build a Cobra with a carbureted Ford small-block V-8 and independent suspension at both ends. The accountant in him calculated he could build such a car for $35,000. Eventually, he determined he wanted stack EFI. In December of '03, the Tungs took delivery of a basic FFR roadster kit.
Desirous of reliable street...
Desirous of reliable street power, Russ opted for a 351W Ford V-8 crate engine. Before adding the Very Cool Parts stack electronic fuel injection, the mills rated at 385 to 400 hp. With the EFI, you can add, at minimum, another 50 horses to the mix.
Russ lined all interior panels...
Russ lined all interior panels with sound and heat insulation. Metalco, in Berkeley, California, clear-anodized the aluminum interior panels and parts.
Glenn "Weendoggy" DiOrio used...
Glenn "Weendoggy" DiOrio used a Painless Performance Products wiring harness for the Type 65. The easy to read instruments are Auto Meter Phantom gauges. To conceal the insulation from view, custom fabricated double-skinned aluminum footboxes were created. Dash-Glove supplied the one-off carpet mats.
The FFR vintage-style fiberglass...
The FFR vintage-style fiberglass racing seats have black vinyl covers. Simpson racing harnesses keep both occupants safely strapped in.
The $11,990 kit (2003) included:
Frame, body, windshield, and associated hardware
Front and rear suspension components and hardware
Engine compartment, trunk, dash, and interior aluminum panels
Side exhaust and assembly
Quick jacks and one rollbar hoop
Lighting and associated hardware assemblies
Roller gas cap, chrome door latches and handles
Chrome side and rearview mirrors
Shifter with boot and trim ring
Radiator fan and assembly
Simpson seat harness
Assorted fasteners, dash buttons, ignition, and other required switches
Fuel and brake lines
Oil filter relocator
Battery tray and cable
Options (approximately $3,500):
IRS with pin drive width assembly (rear suspension upgrade) Pin drive width IFS brackets
Passenger side rollbar
Four-into-four ceramic coated tubular headers
Leather interior upgrades
Polyurethane motor and transmission mounts
Parts the owner supplied or modified (since he didn't go the donor Mustang route):
All new drivetrain-engine, transmission, clutch assembly, flywheel, bellhousing, and driveshaft
Powdercoated the frame
Billet serpentine pullies and brackets
Flaming River steering rack
Braided stainless steel fuel hoses with AN fittings
Fuel pump and regulator
Auto Meter vintage gauges
Brakes, calipers, and rotors
Pre-bent brake lines
Stainless steel flexible front and rear brake lines
Pedal box, gas pedal, and custom pedal covers
Lokar e-brake handle and custom trim ring
Tires and wheels
MSD ignition components
Custom fresh air vents
Upgraded loop carpet, weather stripping, and dash switches
Custom made polished aluminum radiator shroud, cowl, and surrounding panels
Custom door panels
Throttle cable and custom-made throttle bracket
Polished aluminum coolant de-gas and a polished stainless overflow tank
Chrome corrugated radiator and heater hoses
Chromed the rollbars
Replaced the glass packs in the side pipes with Lobaks, re-welded and chromed
Chrome over-riders to replace the quick jacks
Wind wings and sun visors
Bodywork and paint
And much more small stuff
The only donor parts were:
Donor rearend (1987 - 1992 Thunderbird Super Coupe with 8.8" ring gear, 3.27 gears and traction lock)-rebuilt
Donor spindles front-SN95, rear-stock Thunderbird Super Coupe-re-drilled for 4.50" pattern to match bolt patter on the SN95 spindles up front
Curtis and his son, Chris, primarily worked on the roadster in the evenings and on weekends. Chris especially helped with riveting, assembling suspension components, bleeding the brakes, putting tools and car parts back where they belonged, and keeping his dad company in the garage. Curtis shared that the toughest task in the build was wiring the vehicle, followed by learning how to best tune the EFI stack.
By January of 2006, the FFR 427SC roadster was finished. Curtis' total monetary investment in the project was just under $50,000. Aside from getting married and raising two great kids, he believes that building the Cobra is the biggest accomplishment of his life to date. With little mechanical experience, but a wealth of planning and perseverance, Curtis and his clan were able to build the FFR that won Best in Class at Knotts' in '06 among 80 other roadsters, and two other Best in Class awards for 2006.
What we haven't revealed about the rookie's replica build is that Curtis befriended Russ Thompson shortly after returning from Hot August Nights in '03. Russ let Curtis drive his supercharged FFR roadster. We imagine that was the moment when Curtis opted for stacked EFI over carburetion. It's probably also when Curtis realized he couldn't resist making his Cobra dreams a reality.
Without the support of his wife and family, the help of technical experts on the FFR Web forum, and the advice and assistance from Russ Thompson, Curtis' roadster would have remained a dream. As would the memory of the build, the father-son bonding, the many awards won, and the 3,000 miles logged with Chris riding shotgun and manning the laptop (to monitor the EFI's fuel and air mix). And to think it all started with a visit to Hot August Nights, and piloting a blown FFR with Russ' consent to open up the throttle and let her gallop. Giddy up!
Topped with a Verycoolparts.com...
Topped with a Verycoolparts.com stacked electronic fuel injection system, the Keith Craft Racing balanced and blueprinted 408ci Ford Windsor-based stroker engine offers plenty of torque and horsepower. The engine's rated at 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. A Tremec 3550 five-speed backs it. When Curtis and his son, Chris, first lowered the engine/trans within the engine bay, Curtis' wife, Mary, and his 19-year-old daughter, Lauren, made sure no engine bay aluminum panels were hit.
The Moto-Lita black leather-wrapped...
The Moto-Lita black leather-wrapped steering wheel fits the Cobra's heritage to a tee. Craftsmen build Moto-Lita wheels in Great Britain. The owner used an American Autowire harness for the Cobra and to wire in the Auto Meter Vintage gauges.
Curtis installed the leather...
Curtis installed the leather Factory Five Racing Street Performers seats, which include Simpson safety harnesses.
Without a spare tire taking...
Without a spare tire taking up most of the space, Cobra trunks offer a fair bit of storage capacity. The owner lined the trunk with black wool carpet.
Lobaks side pipes/mufflers...
Lobaks side pipes/mufflers look almost as sweet as they sound.
| Facts Box || |
| Russ Thompson || |
| Richmond, California || |
| Factory Five Racing Type 65 Daytona coupe || |
| www.factoryfive.com || |
| Chassis || |
| Frame: || Tube |
| Wheelbase: || 96" |
| Rearend: || Independent, Ford 8.8" pumpkin, tubular upper and lower A arms |
| Rear Suspension: || Koni coilover shocks, 700-lb springs, Speedway Engineering 3/4" sway bar |
| Rear Brakes: || Cobra R disc brakes |
| Front Suspension: || Coilover shocks, 450-lb springs and tubular A arms. Speedway Engineering 1-1/4" sway bar |
| Front Brakes: || Cobra R disc brakes |
| Steering: || AGR high performance power steering rack and pump |
| Front Wheel Make & Size: || PS Engineering 17x9 pin drive |
| Rear Wheel Make & Size: || PS Eng 17x11 pin drive |
| Front Tire Make & Size: || Sumitomo 275-40-17 |
| Rear Tire Make & Size: || Sumitomo 315-35-17 |
| Engine & Trans || |
| Make: || Ford 351W |
| Crankshaft: || Micro polished cast iron |
| Pistons: || Federal Mogul |
| Camshaft: || Speed-Pro |
| Water Pump: || High flow |
| Radiator: || Griffin aluminum |
| Alternator: || Jegs 1 wire 140amp |
| Heads: || Edelbrock aluminum |
| Induction: || Very Cool Parts (www.verycoolparts.com) EFI stacks with SDS fuel management system |
| Air Cleaner: || foam and stainless mesh |
| Ignition: || MSD |
| Headers: || FFR |
| Mufflers: || FFR |
| Transmission: || Tremec TKO |
| Shifter: || Pro Shifter |
| Trans Mods: || Mid shift kit |
| Body || |
| Manufacturer: || Factory 5 Racing |
| Body Mods: || Functional cowl ducts, made and installed rear brake ducts and ducting Cabin air flow ducted out thru rear spoiler |
| Bodywork: || Owner and painter |
| Paint Type: || PPG Mini Cooper Light Electric Blue with Viper Blue stripes and silver accent stripes |
| Painter: || Mario |
| Interior || |
| Gauges: || Auto Meter Phantom gauges |
| Wiring: || Painless harness installed by Glenn "Weendoggy" DiOrio |
| Steering Wheel: || Wood Moto-Lita |
| Seating: || FFR "vintage" fiberglass with black slip-on covers |
| Upholsterer: || Custom carpet mats made by Dash-Glove |
| Material: || All interior panels were lined below with sound and heat insulation. Custom double skins were made for the footboxes to conceal the insulation from view. All aluminum parts and panels were clear anodized by Metalco, in Berkeley, California. |
| Additional custom features: || Hand cut "Daytona" script emblems, stainless steel and braided fuel and brake lines with owner machined aluminum line clamps. |
| Facts Box || |
| Curtis Tung || |
| Alameda, California || |
| Factory Five Racing 1965 Cobra 427 SC Replica || |
| www.factoryfive.com || |
| Chassis || |
| Frame: || 4" round tube |
| Wheelbase: || 90" |
| Rearend: || 8.8" traction-lok with 3.27 gear set |
| Rear Suspension: || Fully independent coilover suspension with tubular upper and lower control arms and Bilstein shocks |
| Rear Brakes: || stock '92 T-Bird slotted and crossed-drilled discs |
| Front Suspension: || Fully independent coilover suspension with tubular upper and lower control arms and Bilstein shocks |
| Front Brakes: || stock '94-'95 Mustang GT slotted and cross-drilled discs |
| Steering: || Flaming River 15:1 rack and pinion |
| Front Wheel Make & Size: || AC III Wheels 17x8 by Team III Wheels |
| Rear Wheel Make & Size: || AC III Wheels 17x9.5 by Team III Wheels |
| Front Tire Make & Size: || Kumho Ecsta MX 245x45x17 |
| Rear Tire Make & Size: || Kumho Ecsta MX 275x40x17 |
| Engine & Trans || |
| Make: || Ford 408W built, balanced and blueprinted by Keith Craft Racing |
| Crankshaft: || Eagle cast steel |
| Pistons: || SRP forged dish |
| Camshaft: || Xtreme hydraulic roller cam by Comp Cams |
| Water Pump: || Standard rotation aluminum water pump by Edelbrock |
| Radiator: || Griffin Radiator-aluminum |
| Alternator: || Summit Racing |
| Heads: || Victor Jr. aluminum by Edelbrock |
| Induction: || Stacked fuel injection system by Very Cool Parts (www.verycoolparts.com) |
| Ignition & fuel || |
| management: || Redline/Webber ignition and fuel management system with MSD distributor, coil, and wires |
| Headers: || Hooker |
| Mufflers: || Lobaks |
| Transmission: || Tremec 3550 five-speed |
| Body || |
| Manufacturer: || Factory Five Racing |
| Bodywork: || Ken's Custom Auto Body |
| Paint Colors: || Indigo Ink Pearl with Pearl Arctic White stripes |
| Painter: || Ken's Custom Auto Body |
| Interior || |
| Gauges: || Auto Meter Vintage Gauges |
| Wiring: || Wired by owner using the American Autowire harness |
| Steering Wheel: || Moto-Lita MK-4 leather wrapped wheel |
| Seating: || Street Performers from Factory Five Racing |
| Material: || Dash, door panels, shifter and e-brake boots, in leather. |