Jun 18, 2014 update to the Factory Five 818 project car

Review: The 818 as a Daily Driver

Sure, it's not the most practical car ever, but we think it's worth it.

As you might expect, the Factory Five 818 is extremely basic. There are virtually no creature comforts—no heat, air conditioning, stereo or power steering.— However, we personally don’t see that as a deal breaker. One of our daily drivers is a first generation Miata, likewise with no air conditioning, stereo, or power steering. Honestly, the 818 is very comparable to that when it comes to practicality. The 818 stands head and shoulders above the Miata when it comes to power and performance, though. We wouldn’t compare it to any high end sports cars—Elise or Boxter S—for driving around town because the 818 is simply not that refined. It’s a kit car, so you know you can’t expect that.

The one big drawback to driving it to work every day is that there is no top. If it starts raining you have to get it inside, pronto. This, and the lack of climate control are really the two main roadblocks to truly being able drive it every day. Really the only other drawback is its appearance. It can be a gift and a curse. It is going to look fantastically angry no matter where you go or what you do. Some would see this as a problem for a daily driver. Others may really enjoy it. It’s down to personal preference for that call.

As for the basic drivability, it impressed us more than it disappointed. Ground clearance isn’t horrible. But like we said, having past experience driving a lowered car is a plus. You tend to memorize where the bigger bumps are and know how to avoid them. As long as you don’t take each inclined parking lot entrance straight on, you should be fine. Also, the ride quality is actually quite good: not too harsh, but it’s sporty. Road noise is what you would expect from a permanent roadster. It’s loud.

The only slight drawbacks to the drivability of the car are the controls themselves. There is no brake booster, so brakes need to be squeezed a little harder. Also, the shifter is connected to the transmission with a very long piece of cable, which makes it a little difficult to shift sometimes when you are lazily moving through the gears. This makes it feel a little archaic when driving, but it also gives it personality.

Visibility is fine, except for a blind spot around your right rear quarter. This spot is usually checked with a quick turn of the head, but when you do that in the 818, all you catch is a fleeting glimpse of the right hump on the rear deck.

Here’s our verdict: We wouldn’t own one as our only mode of transportation, but it sure is a treat to drive to work whenever the weather permits. Once you get in and start driving, you really don’t care about all those little drawbacks. It’s just a really fun little car.

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