The SmokingTire is back at it again, and this time Matt gets to drive John’s Factory Five 818, which he built in his garage over the course of a bit more than a year. For those unfamiliar, Factory Five makes a few different kit cars, with the MK4 Roadster/Cobra replica being most popular. The 818 however, uses the Subaru WRX or WRX STi as the “donor vehicle” and this example used a 2006 WRX for parts scavenging.
Basically, you get a tub chassis car with fiberglass body, and you stuff the engine and transmission (and a few other things…) from the donor vehicle into the 818. Once complete, you’ll end up with an easily tuned (the WRX and STi both come with a turbo, which makes extra power easily), lightweight, med-engine, rear wheel drive car. Let the fun begin.
Although a 6 speed from the STi model is available and would fit, the original 5 speed and 2.5-liter turbocharged engine was used from the WRX with only 50k miles on it. Since this is a Subaru flat four engine, the exhaust makes itself known with the classic boxer rumble that frequently is associated with the modified crowd. Matt claims, “It makes ALL the right sounds.”
The very first thing Matt mentions when pulling away is how great the car sounds, but is immediately surprised when braking before the first corner and identifying the lack of ABS or power brakes. It seems that the main complaint that Farah has about the car is the bizarre pedal placement. The owner/builder opted to use aftermarket parts for the gas pedal, rather than using the supplied pedal assembly from the WRX donor and so spacing is further than Farah likes.
“Oh, okay. So no power brakes, no A.B.S., no traction control?!” says Matt, “Yeah nothing that can save you” chimes the owner. Although already unique, this particular version also features a custom fan box around the intercooler. Since the factory WRX and STi have the intercooler up front, they had to improvise to make sure that airflow for the now mid engine mounted setup. An air to water setup was considered, but they didn’t want to take off all the body panels to run the water lines (unless they absolutely needed to) so they built a box, and it sounds like it works great.
With 325 horsepower to the wheels and a scant 2,000 pound weight, the distance between corners seems to shrink quickly as Farah explores the rev range which goes by quickly due to the insane low pounds per horsepower, which certainly rivals higher end sport cars and other “fast” vehicles.
When Farah inquires about cost, the owner is skeptical to give an exact answer but lets him know that you can build the Factory Five 818 for as little as $15k all the way up to the $40-$65k range. “If you wanna do it right, and make it your own anywhere from $40-65k. It depends if you wanna do it like a production car and do it right the first time, or just put it together.” This particular build is estimated to be on the higher end of the build range.
The confidence of the brake pedal is definitely what holds Farah back from fully loving the car, and informs the audience that if they want their senses peaked, this is the car for them.