FFR 818S Chassis #288

I spent nearly three years working on my first automotive project.  With lots of late nights and long weekends I learned everything from torquing bolts to fiberglass fabrication to basic engine tuning.  My primary motivation for starting this build came from a frustration with my lack of knowledge on basic car service and repair.  As an engineer I came to realize that it was a travesty to have to take my car in for service to get new brakes or replace an alternator. I had no doubt that I wanted to do something to change this.

It was easy to decide on the 818 kit. Simply browsing the Factory Five website and forums gave the impression of a well engineered car supported by helpful staff and lots of other like-minded and helpful builders.

When the kit first arrives it is just a skeleton of a car. In addition to the frame the 14 large boxes that were also delivered gave the feeling that I may be in over my head. I leafed through the 600 page manual then turned to page one to get started.

The first steps were to install the front firewall and suspension components. But wait, before even this I had an extensive amount of cleaning of the old donor car. This kit uses a number of parts from an old Subaru WRX. Mine came from a 2003 Impreza Wagon.

Near the middle of the build I started working on the wiring. The kit instructs the builder to use the wiring harness from the donor and make a few modifications to get things running. Do so, would be the quickest solution but my problem is that the donor has a lot of extra systems and wiring that would make repairs very difficult and it just looks horrible.

My solution: Start from scratch. By making a custom wiring harness I cut over 25 lbs of unnecessary weight and the final installation of the harness took only 20 minutes. It also let me wire in some custom parts such as a lightweight fuse box, sound system, seat heaters and security system.

During the harness build I modified the ABS sensor wiring to match the wheel orientation dictated by the FFR kit. This is important to make sure the ABS controls the brakes on the same wheel that it detects is sliding.

While I worked on the wiring harness I sent the engine out to a specialty shop to be rebuilt. By the time I got it back it had been upgraded from a 2.0L to a 2.5L engine! Now we should get some serious horsepower. Due to this added horsepower I ended up having a new transmission built with taller gears, which fits the car’s power and weight much better.

With the exception of some odds and ends all that’s left was the body and interior. This being a rear engine rear wheel drive car their is no center drive shaft and I wanted to highlight this fact by removing a portion of the center console.

I fabricated a couple extra panels to cover the wires and give a clean look to the floor space. Through in an aftermarket shifter and seats and finished it off with some vinyl padding and carpet and sound mat.

The fiberglass body was no small chore. All of the panels required additional prep work to fit the panels to the car and final prep before painting or wrap can be applied. The big steps were to remove any mold release wax; remove uncured gel-coat; add body filler; and 3 stage sanding. Once the body is nice and smooth and everything lines up the wrap can be applied.

I quickly learned that vinyl installation is a time consuming and somewhat artistic process. The key aspects are to figure out where you need inlays; don’t over stretch; and take your time.

Before I had completed my build I started taking the car out to autocross events.  As complete beginner to both autocross and driving manual my lap times were not the fastest. The car however performed amazingly, very fast acceleration, braking and turning.

I have also documented every step of my build on the Factory Five Forum please check out my build thread at http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showthread.php?16780-JJ-s-818s-Build

Timeline

Ordered: 9/19/14
Received Kit: 11/2/14
First Start: 5/31/15
First Drive: 6/7/15
Registered: 3/10/2016
Completed: 2/10/2017
Sold: 9/22/2017

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