Gearheads all over the country are familiar with Factory Five, the company that has kit cars you can purchase and build in your own home garage. With models ranging from the popular Mk4 to the hyperfast-looking GTM, the 33 Hot Rod to the sleek 818, Factory Five kit cars are the hot ticket for those who want to build a full-size model car they can actually drive.
Now located in Wareham, Massachusetts, Factory Five began its humble beginnings in Huntington Beach, California, in 1995. President and Founder Dave Smith remembers those roots – not at all unlike his own family roots – and brings it all back to Huntington Beach each year to honor those humble beginnings and to throw the “Party in the Streets” with the annual Huntington Beach Cruise-In.
Now in its ninth year, the Cruise in shuts down Main Street, just off the Pacific Coast Highway, and a few adjoining streets. Lined up on each curb is more kit cars then you can shake a wrench at, and each car bears its own identity – that of its owner. Some will remain as plain as the kit will allow, while others will take things to the next level and beyond with modifications to the drivetrain, suspension, interior, and even body mods.
There were lots of Mk3 and Mk4 cars at the show, but the presence of the Type 65, GTM, and the 33 Hot Rod helped mixed it up a bit.
All day long, people can be found dancing in the streets to the tunes of the Fabulous Nomads as they crank out beach music and classic rock songs to the expanding crowd. We were there again this year to witness the frenzy and to pull it all in for our not-so-local readers to see what all the excitement is about.
Jo Coddington and Courtney Hansen flanking Factory Five President Dave Smith, making him look a whole lot sharper!
We’ve got a huge gallery at the end, but in the meantime we’ll post up our favorites from the show in six categories: Mk3/Mk4 Roadster, Challenge Series Racer, Type 65 Coupe, GTM Supercar, ’33 Hot Rod, and our favorite “Under Construction” entry – a car that makes us drool even when it’s not yet completed.
A list of show winners can be found at the Factory Five website, where you can find out more about each kit car and all of the options to build your very own Factory Five dream come true and cruise in style. Some of the participants come from quite a distance for the Cruise-In, and others are just a few blocks away. But when you see the rows of Factory Five cars lined up, we guarantee its difficult to pick your favorite – but we did our best.
The Fabulous Nomads took a couple much needed breaks, but were back at the music keeping us all entertained.
The Family Atmosphere
The one thing that remains a constant with Factory Five President Dave Smith is the family atmosphere. Everyone who owns a Factory Five car, whether they build it themselves or buy it turn key, becomes a family member. Smith was on hand all day visiting with new owners and old familiar faces, and offering his time to anyone who approached him throughout the busy day.
One familiar face Saturday – and a regular for the past few years – was the lively Jo Coddington, who was a part of the Detroit Muscle All-Women 427 build a couple years ago. She was on hand to sign autographs and share a laugh or two with old friends and new friends alike.
She’s been working hard on a new endeavor with the BoltUps.com team, a place where enthusiasts can show off their vehicle whether is in the dirt, on the street, in the snow, or the H2O – visitors can set up their own garage with all their favorite toys. It was great seeing her out there again doing something she is passionate about.
Another beautiful woman showing up for autographs and picture opportunities was Courtney Hansen. You know her from Saturday morning television shows and automotive events all over the country, including the annual SEMA trade show in Las Vegas. She was all smiles for the entire day, you gotta love a real car girl who can mix it up with a bunch of true gearheads.
Courtney made her way around the show cars meeting and greeting anyone who walked up to say hello. More than just another pretty face, she’s truly and enthusiast and enjoys being around cars, whether it’s on television, at SEMA, or at car shows. She did indulge us for a photo opportunity where we could poke a little fun at yours truly, she was a great sport about it.
Left: It was a fun day for all and plenty of smiles throughout the day. Right: Courtney Hansen looks much taller on television.
Our Favorite Picks From The Show
As we did last year, we picked our favorites from the show in multiple categories. It isn’t an easy task when so many of them have cues that make them so unique, and picking the favorite is that much harder to do because we liked them all. But, be that as it may, here are our top winners.
Best Under Construction – Saul Sotelo
The term “under construction” is just as it implies, and it used to be a regular at many car shows. Since Factory Five is all about cars you build yourself, an in-progress car is not only welcomed, but encouraged. Under Construction entries can be anything from a rolling chassis sans drivetrain to a near complete car sans body panels. Saul Sotelo brought out his Mk4 and showed off the beastly powerplant to the enthusiastic crowd.
The first thing you notice is the Roush supercharger sitting on top of the Coyote Eliminator engine. Combined with the 67mm Throttle body, Saul said that his powertrain is seeing about 750 horsepower at the flywheel. Taking the full brunt of that power is a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed transmission, sending the power down the line to a Lincoln Mk8 IRS sporting a Detroit Truetrac with 3.73 gears.
Under that dash full of wiring is an Ididit steering column with electric steering, and more gauges than most of us see in a car. It’s something else to have a great power-to-weight ratio, but this takes that notion to its extreme – we can’t wait to see this thing in action.
Best Mk3/Mk4 – Bill Bryan
One of the things we liked about Bill’s Mk3 was the choice of color/stripes, it really popped and caught our eye. But there was something else about this car that was pretty cool, and that was the TWM stack injection on the small-block Ford. Aside from that, the simplicity of it was really what made it a favorite for us.
What looked like a set of Weber carbs at a quick glance turned out to be fuel injection, and all it took was a little closer look to see. Bill hails from Phoenix, Arizona, and drives the car often, weather permitting. It’s not a flashy car, nor is it over the top with regards to power – he told us he really doesn’t know what kind of power it makes, he just loves driving it. The T5 transmission and the Ford 8.8 with 3.55 gears keep that power in check all that really matters is that it’s fun to drive.
Best Challenge Car – Mark Gearhart
There was only two Challenge cars that we could find, so the choice was whether to go wild or mild with this one. Even if you’re not a fan of the huge wing and spoilers, the Coyote mill with the ITBs was enough to win our vote. The satin gray finish and the wide Toyo tires on CCW wheels was a great combination, too.
And if this car looks a bit familiar to you, then you’ve likely seen it on our Project Cars page, this is Project FFR Cobra Jet Challenge. A lot of extra work went into this car with regards to electronics and mechanical. The Challenge car is the Mk4 road race version with additional bracing and support throughout.
The car arrived a little over a year ago, and made its debut at SEMA this past fall. There’s quite a bit to this car, and you can read all about it on our project car page. It’s running, but Mark says it still needs some tuning to those ITBs singing properly. Overall, an interesting build and also the winner of the Most Innovative award this past weekend.
Best Type 65 Coupe – John Saia
What was it that we liked the most about this Type 65? What wasn’t there to like. Although there were some great looking cars, it was the period correct look to John’s Type 65 that had us coming back for more. The car truly looked like it just rolled onto the grid back in 1965, and when we spoke to John about his car he told us that was exactly the look he was going for.
The 392-inch Ford Motorsports crate engine is a step up from the 289, sporting Ford GT40 aluminum heads and a set of 48 IDA Weber carburetors. It’s based off a 351 Windsor, .030 over with a 3.850-inch stroke, good for 435 horsepower and about 500 lb-ft of torque. All those ponies head to the T-bird IRS with 3.41 gears via a Tremec TKO600 five speed transmission. Sure, there were fancier cars that were a little more flashy, but John’s ride was pure race car and that’s why we loved it.
Best GTM –Gene Bowling
We didn’t get a chance to catch up with Gene during the show, but we couldn’t resist coming back time and again for a look at his GTM. It was not only our favorite, but the judges voted it the best GTM as well, and we can see why. The GTM gets its motivation from GM’s LS engine with a set of Trick Flow heads, and the handling comes from the Corvette C5 running gear and Corvette brakes to handle those pesky stop signs.
Some of the cool features on this car includes the use of carbon fiber throughout, from the front splitter to the rear wing. Inside the cockpit it’s all business with some modern electronics, and out back a unique intake system brings cold air in from the outside. An especially nice touch is the fifth-gen Camaro-style tail lamps, and the overall attention to detail. The car looked fast just sitting still, and like a lot of fun to drive.
Best 33 Hot Rod – Harold Moore
Not only was Harold’s 33 Hot Rod our favorite pick, but Harold was one of our favorite people at the show, too. His big smile and friendly nature just seemed to pull you in, and you could tell he truly loves driving his Factory Five Hot Rod. He hails from Farmington, New Mexico, and says that, weather permitting, he drives his car as often as he can. His wife is his co-pilot for his many cruises, and they hook up a small motorcycle trailer to carry chairs and coolers with them.
Harold built the car himself and did about 90 percent of the body work before sending it off to paint. For motivation, the 302 SBF is running a Comp Cams camshaft and boasts 10.5:1 compression with a set of Edelbrock heads. The four 45 DCOE Weber carburetors, according to Harold, aren’t that difficult to tune, and all 350 horsepower is sent through a Ford AOD transmission to the Moser-built 8.8 in the rear with 3.31 gears. The creative use of pinstriping throughout the car is a nice touch – noticeable but not overdone. If you didn’t get a chance to meet Harold, you missed out – he’s the kind of guy you want to call family.
Special Award – Josh Hespeler
Josh had what was initially going to be our favorite 33 Hot Rod – because Hemi – but the story of his car had us, as well as Factory Five’s Dave Smith, handing out a special award. As we mentioned, Factory Five is all about family, and this particular build was a true family affair. Josh’s father, Scott, bought the kit back in December of 2008, and the car sat for a few years. Then Scott became ill with terminal cancer, and with not a lot of time left he decided he wanted to finish the car with his son.
They began working on the car, and with Scott’s brother Kent taking time off from work to help build the car and apply the beautiful paint they were able to get the car finished in time for Scott to drive it. He was able to drive the car for a few months before he passed away on February 12, 2016, ending his battle with cancer. The car is now in the hands of his son, Josh, who wanted to bring the car to the show and share his story with us all.
Josh was extremely proud of his father and his uncle Kent for setting a goal to finish the car, and for dedicating their time to do so. The 392 Hemi up front is enough to make this car different, and topping it off is a pair of Edelbrock carburetors with a very cool bug catcher sucking in those pesky gnats. Shifting gears is done via Tremec TKO600 five-speed, sending the power to a Fab9 rearend from Chris Alston’s Chassisworks. A set of flamed Mickey Thompson tires finish off the cool look of this Hot Rod, giving it just the right look that Dad had envisioned for his beast.
Factory Five President Dave Smith awarding Josh Hespeler the first-ever Solid Car Guy cup.
It’s all about family, and this was a family that stuck together and saw the job through, and together they finished it in time for Scott to enjoy a few months of freedom before he passed away. It’s a story that touched us all, and brought everyone a little bit closer because there’s nothing like working together, father and son, on building a car and then taking down to Main Street to show it off. We know Scott was looking on from above, as his proud son Josh was the recipient of Factory Five’s first Solid Car Guy Award.
There’s more below in the gallery of Factory Five cars from the 9th Annual Huntington Beach Cruise-in, and you can be we’ll be back again next year. You can find out more about joining the family by visiting the Factory Five website, and finding your own life size model kit to build and enjoy. You’ll love the cars, you’ll love the people, and you’ll be a part of a very cool family of gearheads from all over.