Own GRM Royalty: Our Factory Five 818 Is for Sale

Jordan
By Jordan Rimpela
Jul 30, 2019 | Factory Five

Back in 2013, we started work on a Factory Five 818. We even extensively chronicled the build on our YouTube channel. Once we had done all we had wanted to do with the project, we put it up for sale on Bring a Trailer back in 2015. 

Didn't win it back then? Well, now you have another chance. According to the ad, it now comes with a built 2.5-liter flat-four, putting out 305 horsepower.

 

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Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham UberDork
7/30/19 1:51 p.m.

Somebody is grinning at their computer screen right now.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
7/30/19 2:37 p.m.

I wonder how long the $818 bid will be the top one. Pretty funny for everyone except the seller.

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/30/19 2:39 p.m.
T.J. said:

I wonder how long the $818 bid will be the top one. Pretty funny for everyone except the seller.

 

Yeah, pretty much. Does $8118 work as well? 

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
7/30/19 2:45 p.m.

How well did the 818 age?  Are they/were they ever popular?  I have only ever seen this one even talked about.  

The Factory 5 GTM is sweet and there are still a fair number of Cobras running around but the 818 seems to be an answer to a question no one asked.  Part of it is certainly the unfortunate engine choice, super high resale on anything remotely runnable/lack of cheap donors has got to be hurting the take rate.  

spacecadet
spacecadet GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/30/19 4:41 p.m.

In reply to 93gsxturbo :

They came out, a few people bought them and then they kinda floundered... or at least it feels that way. They've not been anywhere near the popularity of their previous products. I still remember reading about the F5 cobra race series years ago. 

I think you're on the money with it hitting a market that wasn't there. 

bluej
bluej GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/30/19 4:46 p.m.

I think the exocet happened, and pretty much kaboshed the 818.

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/30/19 6:12 p.m.

Here's an interesting thread:

https://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showthread.php?27408-Why-has-everybody-sold-their-818

My 3 pennies: First, while cool, it's not a jaw dropper. Looks like something Mitsubishi might make. Secondly, while lurking on build threads, it seemed like a lot of 818 builders kinda went hog wild and ended up with $30 to $40K worth of trick stuff, which is great and all, but also an amount that will buy you a lot of other cool things like Caymans and such. Lastly, there's no historic tie-in. People buy Cobra roadsters because they've been lustworthy for 50 years running and an important part of peoples lifelong car guy narrative. 

 

Stefan
Stefan GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/30/19 6:14 p.m.

plus the Catfish (which looks better, IMO)

It isn't a bad solution, I just never understood the Subaru drivetrain choice.  I think using a FWD drivetrain would have made it a solution that could have worked for a wider range of buyers.

LLL
LLL
7/30/19 7:07 p.m.

The 818 can be a stunning looker (especially the newer cars)  and fantastic performer.  The pricing is extremely reasonable and Factory Five builds great component cars.   The reason I'm not building one right now is the newest donor car is at least 12 years old.  It is kind of difficult to find a decent 2004 to 2007 Impreza or WRX that doesn't have a zillion miles and hasn't been ragged-out.  The 818 is a great car but that is a small (and aging) donor selection for a new build.         

captainawesome
captainawesome Reader
7/30/19 9:44 p.m.

There's a hardtop model or whatever that version is that runs occasionally with the SCCA near me in E Mod. It is neat in person. Like really neat, but the guy spent a lot to get it where it is. Roughly $30k if I remember correctly. It sounds like a fun project, but the money invested doesn't match the performance and I imagine it's a tough pill to swallow. The local hot shoe took it for a couple runs, but wasn't able to see it's full potential. I think it needs some proper development to shine, but the car/driver has shown a lot of improvement from where he started.

te72
te72 Reader
7/31/19 12:48 a.m.

That is a really weird looking Eclipse...

 

I kid, I kid... truly. I considered building one. Subaru drivetrains won't survive me for long though... Plus, their oiling systems, on a car that light that probably grips like crazy? Poor choice of drivetrain in practice. Turns out vape juice is really hard to get at the pump these days...

pimpm3
pimpm3 UltraDork
7/31/19 6:45 a.m.

I just don't get the appeal when 20 to 30k will buy a nice used Cayman or boxster.  Personally I find the exocet a more appealing kit car option.

codrus
codrus GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/31/19 8:28 a.m.

IIRC, one of the problems with the 818 was that it was supposed to be a single-car donor (a WRX), but the transmission turned out not to be strong enough to handle putting all of the torque through just 2 wheels (having been originally intended as an AWD transmission).  So to make it reliable you needed to buy a WRX and then get an STi transmission, which added fairly substantially to the cost.

 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
7/31/19 8:48 a.m.

FRS has convinced me that the boxer engine is not the answer.

Rusnak_322
Rusnak_322 Dork
7/31/19 9:16 a.m.
pimpm3 said:

I just don't get the appeal when 20 to 30k will buy a nice used Cayman or boxster.  Personally I find the exocet a more appealing kit car option.

 

or upper thirties will get you a low mile 3 year old Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe if what you wanted was something a little more unique than a Porsche.

 

morello159
morello159 Reader
7/31/19 9:44 a.m.

They really should have built this thing around the k24 powerplant. Sure, maybe your CG is a little higher, but k24's are a dime a dozen at the wreckers and take very well to boost. 

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
7/31/19 9:48 a.m.
morello159 said:

They really should have built this thing around the k24 powerplant. Sure, maybe your CG is a little higher, but k24's are a dime a dozen at the wreckers and take very well to boost. 

K24 is probably the best business decision, but I'd love to have a VQ in one of these. Nissan/infinity hands down has the best sounding v6, and you want an 818 to sound exotic.

If the CVT could hang with much less weight than a Maxima or Quest, I'd even take the CVT.

morello159
morello159 Reader
7/31/19 9:59 a.m.

In reply to Robbie :

That one's a matter of taste... I, personally, can't stand the VQ drone/wallow noise and a CVT would only make that worse. If you want exotic V6 noise and reliability, you're still better off at Honda. The J35 in my MDX made me giggle every time VTEC engaged and it sounded damn good.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
7/31/19 10:02 a.m.

In reply to morello159 :

I agree. The VQ engines have a distinctive sound, but not one that I enjoy hearing. Like all matters of opinion, it's in the eye (or ears) of the beholder I guess.

slowbird
slowbird Reader
7/31/19 10:18 a.m.

The FAQ on the Factory Five site says "will you make a version of this kit for the Ecoboost engine?...not yet but we're thinking about it" or something like that. I think that would be a decent choice.

That said, this is GRM. Can't we adapt pretty much any engine into any vehicle?

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
7/31/19 10:43 a.m.

The version with a roof does look a bit too much like an eclipse with a bad body kit. The topless version I like much better.

 

Auction is up to $5.5k which is still quite a bargain. Wonder where it will end up with 5 days to go.

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/31/19 10:47 a.m.

this is GRM. Can't we adapt pretty much any engine into any vehicle?

 

If you want to stay longitudinal, length may be an issue. There are few motors short of an inline 3 cylinder that are any shorter than a Subbie. If you go transverse, you're going to have to redo the suspension and such.

As for the transmission, my thought would be that the 818 would put a lot less stress on it. The car's a good deal lighter than the WRX, and if you're into clutch drops, wouldn't one set of tires be more likely to spin than two?

Underhoood heat is another bugaboo that owners have fought. I'd be tempted to install an EZ36R instead of a turbo 4. Harder to get big power out of, but better low end, less heat and clutter.

rustybuckets
rustybuckets Reader
7/31/19 10:49 a.m.

I had read that prior to development, Factory Five had to decide between designing and manufacturing a lightweight "cheap" sports car (818) or a lightweight "cheap" mini trophy truck/desert racer.

I always thought they made the wrong decision, but we'll never know.

slowbird
slowbird Reader
7/31/19 11:02 a.m.
Kreb said:

this is GRM. Can't we adapt pretty much any engine into any vehicle?

 

If you want to stay longitudinal, length may be an answer. There are few motors short of an inline 3 cylinder that are any shorter than a Subbie.

That gives me an idea... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_EcoBoost_engine#1.5_L_Dragon

codrus
codrus GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/31/19 12:45 p.m.
Kreb said:

If you want to stay longitudinal, length may be an issue. There are few motors short of an inline 3 cylinder that are any shorter than a Subbie.

Clearly it needs a 13b. :)

 

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/31/19 1:18 p.m.

One of these showed up a the drag strip last Friday. Stock WRX engine. He drove there, ran 13 low's without trying hard, drove back. Sounded like it was a blast to build and drive, though he did say it's a pretty raw driving experience on the road. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/31/19 1:37 p.m.
pimpm3 said:

I just don't get the appeal when 20 to 30k will buy a nice used Cayman or boxster.  Personally I find the exocet a more appealing kit car option.

Or c5 Zo6

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/31/19 2:19 p.m.
codrus said:
Kreb said:

If you want to stay longitudinal, length may be an issue. There are few motors short of an inline 3 cylinder that are any shorter than a Subbie.

Clearly it needs a 13b. :)

 

20B?

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
7/31/19 2:25 p.m.

Before we write it off as a failure, does anyone know how many kits have actually been supplied?

mainlandboy
mainlandboy Reader
7/31/19 3:04 p.m.

I was pretty excited about the 818 when it came out, but I think the main issue is that it is too much money to spend on a toy that probably can't also be used as a DD.  Like others have said, a used Boxster, Cayman, etc. can do double duty as the fun toy AND the DD for the same price. If you want a dedicated second fun/toy car for cheaper, I think that the DF Kit car has the right idea.

http://dfkitcar.com/

 

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
7/31/19 3:25 p.m.

Saw a Factory Five Cobra Daytona.  Nice and almost somewhat practical car.

OldGray320i
OldGray320i Dork
7/31/19 3:57 p.m.

I give kudos to FF for putting the effort in to produce it. 

I think the thing with any of these car types has to be a link to something iconic/powerful in the mind, performs really well, and priced better than a suitable alternative. 

Thus, Cobra ~ $25k and up.   The next best thing is an FM v8 Miata, but I'd be willing to bet more FF Cobras are built every year than v8 Miatas.

I'd love to do something 15-1700lb small bore roaster, but there are no small bore roasters that cling to the mind in the manner a Cobra does except what used to be the Beck  spyder and various Porsche Speedster/356 kits.

And those provided the experience at a fraction of the cost. 

For prices involved in getting a good kit (which, FF is not "kit" to me, they just do so much better a job than what "kit" connotes...), you can hop up a Miata, BRZ, older Vette, etc.... and get the amped up driving experience. 

It'd be fun to see FF do something that uses Miata running gear, a 50s/early 60s sports racing car type body (like the D-type Jags, Ferrari Mondials and Monzas, Aston DBRs, etc) but for the cost to put something  out, you can buy a worn out NA, throw all the goodies at it, and get the same driving experience. 

I'd like to think the kicker, and what would push somebody over the edge, is one of those sexy 50s sports racer type body styles.  Get some of those aluminum wheels that look like steelies from the era or deep dish Panasports and you're cooking. 

Still, they made the 818, and it's got no historical equivalent. 

Again, I say good on 'em.

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/31/19 6:10 p.m.

One other thing - the 818s lifespan has coincided with a  deepening arms race in the area of track cars. 15 years ago my Stalker V6 with a pushrod 3.4 was among the fastest several guys at any track day that I ran. Now that car would be significantly further back in the pack unless I were to throw an LSX on it. Some guys bought 818s thinking that they were buying a low-budget supercar, when they were getting a very fast car - but not super and subject to kit car peccadillos. They're taking them to time trial track days and getting disappointing results.   

The irony is that most Cobra replicas aren't all that fast either, but they aren't getting bought to be world beaters - just really fast heritage cars.

None of this changes the fact that they're pretty great, even bitchin' cars. Any shortcomings are more the result of expectations than anything. I'd gladly welcome one to my garage.

jmc14
jmc14 Reader
7/31/19 6:34 p.m.

I've always liked kit cars.  I built a Beck Lister and then did a few of my own cars, Including a Cobra replica.

  I've decided that I'm going to offer a kit for the car that I'm close to finishing.  Inspired by the 1963 Cheetah my car uses a dedicated space frame, MGB windshield, C4 Corvette suspension and a SBC or LS engine.  With a 93 inch wheelbase it can weigh as little as 1750LBS.  My car has a SBC with iron heads.  It weighs 1840lbs. 

Right now my car is not painted.  It's in the white gel coat.  I laid out a few stripe ideas using duct tape.  Here's one.

I'm not advertising now or taking orders.  I'm going to have the car painted in Sept and some upholstery work done. Then I'll advertise it here. I have no idea if there will be any demand for my car.  I built the car the way I wanted and am doing this for fun. 

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
8/1/19 7:34 a.m.

Have F5 tried selling this kit in Europe, or especially the UK?  The UK kit car scene is massive, and a well finished, well designed car should do, err, well over there!

D2W
D2W HalfDork
8/1/19 10:24 a.m.

I followed along during the development of this car. I was really excited about the prospect, but disappointed in the end result. I really feel with all the advanced capabilities that FFR has they should not have some of the simple fitment problems body and frame that they do.

I used to spend a lot of time on their forum as I am a big fan of their products. I just went back yesterday afternoon to ask if there had been any recent news from FFR, and how many they have sold. I didn't get one reply. 

Robbie
Robbie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/1/19 11:03 a.m.
mainlandboy said:

I was pretty excited about the 818 when it came out, but I think the main issue is that it is too much money to spend on a toy that probably can't also be used as a DD.  Like others have said, a used Boxster, Cayman, etc. can do double duty as the fun toy AND the DD for the same price. If you want a dedicated second fun/toy car for cheaper, I think that the DF Kit car has the right idea.

http://dfkitcar.com/

 

I think there's a build thread for the first goblin right here on grm

mtn
mtn MegaDork
8/1/19 11:35 a.m.
mainlandboy said:

I was pretty excited about the 818 when it came out, but I think the main issue is that it is too much money to spend on a toy that probably can't also be used as a DD.  Like others have said, a used Boxster, Cayman, etc. can do double duty as the fun toy AND the DD for the same price. If you want a dedicated second fun/toy car for cheaper, I think that the DF Kit car has the right idea.

http://dfkitcar.com/

 

I agree. It can't be used as a part-time DD in much of the country, because it doesn't have a top (and also, to a lesser impact, it doesn't have a trunk). 

jstein77
jstein77 UberDork
8/1/19 11:56 a.m.

I had the hots for the 818 back when GRM was building theirs, but I ended up spending all my money on the RS, and I'm glad I did.  Everyday practicality combined with scorching performance.

D2W
D2W HalfDork
8/1/19 2:39 p.m.
jmc14 said:

I've always liked kit cars.  I built a Beck Lister and then did a few of my own cars, Including a Cobra replica.

  I've decided that I'm going to offer a kit for the car that I'm close to finishing.  Inspired by the 1963 Cheetah my car uses a dedicated space frame, MGB windshield, C4 Corvette suspension and a SBC or LS engine.  With a 93 inch wheelbase it can weigh as little as 1750LBS.  My car has a SBC with iron heads.  It weighs 1840lbs. 

Right now my car is not painted.  It's in the white gel coat.  I laid out a few stripe ideas using duct tape.  Here's one.

I'm not advertising now or taking orders.  I'm going to have the car painted in Sept and some upholstery work done. Then I'll advertise it here. I have no idea if there will be any demand for my car.  I built the car the way I wanted and am doing this for fun. 

I have always like the cheetah, and honestly in convertible form it gives off the 50's custom sports racer vibe that somebody mentioned. I think it would be fun to put a high hp 4 cylinder in one.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
8/1/19 3:17 p.m.
jmc14 said:

It BADLY  needs some smaller diameter period looking wheels.

 

OldGray320i
OldGray320i Dork
8/2/19 2:38 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson said:
jmc14 said:

It BADLY  needs some smaller diameter period looking wheels.

 

I don't know that I agree or not, I kind of like it, but I know there's a SBC in it.  If it was a 4-cyl job, I'd have a different opinion.  Strange, right?

When I saw that you could put SUs on a Miata motor with relative ease, my mind went racing back to FFR doing a Miata based small bore sports racer homage to cars of the era, since they did the 818, and the engine bay could look period correct!

But that's when I thought the 818 was a pure FFR design concept; turns out it's related to the Lotus 2 Eleven, which I guess is an Exige based car (which, to my mind, is still too modern anyway).

Sigh.

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
8/2/19 4:01 p.m.

The Cheetah is a pretty big car. I think that the suspension is Corvette based.  A 4-cylinder would be OK - especially if it's got a honking turbo on it, but to me that car deserves something with clout.

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