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						2006 Fussel Ffr Mk3 Roadster 1

Custom touches on a FFR Mk3 Roadster

Told by Britt L. Fussel

Photos by Steve Temple

First things first: you’ve gotta have a good place to build a project car. But even when you have the right setup, things can take way longer than expected, especially when you want things to turn out just so, as I’ll explain.

In February 2006, we finally finished building our new house that included a shop. The primary purpose of the new house project was to provide a facility to build another car. In late February, I placed an order with Factory Five Racing for a Mk3 Roadster, which arrived in early May 2006. It wouldn’t get done until much later, though.

I originally planned the build to take only two years. The convenience of having a shop in the backyard was to allow work to occur on the roadster project after I came home from work. Unfortunately that did not happen, as I was always too tired from work to spend any real time in the shop. Life generally got in the way resulting in only spending time on Saturday and part of Sundays working on the car.

In addition, I hurt my back working on the car, resulting in the need to have back surgery. Also, toward the end of the project my father came down with an inoperable cancer and I needed to spend time with him. Aside from these obstacles, I couldn’t help but add a number of my own personal touches, so that’s basically why it took so long to complete this project.

I chose the Factory Five Racing kit because I liked the flexibility they offered when ordering their kit. I wanted to do something different. I chose to go with a Ford 4.6L DOHC modular motor with a Tremec TKO 600 five-speed transmission. Again, wanting something different when you opened the hood, I added a Whipple supercharger. Basically what I had was the same engine Ford put into the 2003 Mustang SVT Cobra: the Terminator. I found as I went along that modifications begat modifications.

I replaced the kit-provided steering shaft and bearing with a Flaming River Roadster steering column. This change provided self-canceling turn signals and a four-way flasher switch. I moved the parking-brake handle to the left side of the console. This mod not only made it easier to reach, but also provided room for improved seats.

I spent a lot of time on the FFCars.com forum site. Unfortunately, the forum participants could readily help you spend your money. It was on the forum I found out about the ISIS (now Infinity Box) intelligent wiring system. The product was brand new and I had to have one. I installed the three-cell system, which included a MasterCell and three PowerCells, providing a lot of opportunity and flexibility in wiring the car. The MasterCell was installed in the passenger-side kick panel; one PowerCell was installed inside the engine compartment on top of the passenger-side footbox; and two PowerCells were hidden in a box that I cut into the bottom of the trunk. The battery was also hidden in a box cut into the trunk.

When I turned my attention to the bodywork, more modifications were in order. The handles for the hood and trunk were shaved, and the hood latches were replaced with a hidden cable system that could be opened from the cockpit. The trunk latch was modified and can be opened with an electric trunk release. Since the battery was mounted in the trunk, a backup cable release was also installed. 

The quick jacks were removed and the holes filled. The Mk3 Roadster kit ships with visible body mounts. All body-mounting points were hidden. The license plate, which sits above the trunk handle, was frenched into the trunk lid. All of the body modifications made for a very clean looking body. Bodywork alone took over two years and I performed all the work, including paint.

The kit provided low-back bucket seats that were tossed for high-back bucket seats from Corbeau. These were then recovered in leather. Seat heaters were added, along with a Vintage Air roadster heater. Since I did not want any part of it visible in the engine compartment, this unit was dismantled and installed behind the dash in two pieces. This resulted in needing to build a duct to connect the fan motor to the heater core, and then a plenum to duct the heated air into the cockpit. In addition there are defroster vents in the dash.

To provide a luxury only found in high-end production vehicles, I included a keyless ignition from Digital Guard Dawg. This ignition system requires you to have a RFID transmitter with you to start the car.

The car was registered under the California SB 100 process that allowed me to register it as a 1965 Cobra. It was finally completed and on the road in March 2014, some eight years after the kit was delivered.

Unfortunately, it was not without its mechanical problems and has twice been on a rollback tow truck. The first time I grenaded a throw-out bearing. This was the result of a mismatched clutch fork to the bell housing. The clutch fork was not pressing on the centerline of the throw-out bearing, placing a lateral force on it and causing it to shatter. I know it was in at least five pieces—four were in the bottom of the bell housing with the fifth out on the highway somewhere. 

The second problem was even more disastrous. A brass sprocket that ties the exhaust cam to the intake cam broke, allowing the passenger-side intake cam to stop spinning and causing the number-one piston to hit the intake valves. As a result I found that you could remove a 4.6 L DOHC motor from one of these cars with the body still on. It took almost four days to remove, including tear down to long-block status delivering the engine to an engine shop for repair. It then took an additional four-plus days to put the engine back together and re-install it back into the car.

The culprit? A loose bolt that held the timing gears in place on the passenger-side intake cam. This dates back to when I had the long-block built seven years before I put the car on the road. All told the car was out of commission for over two months, causing me to miss two scheduled car shows.

During the first year on the road I received recognition at several car shows including winning best interior at the Factory Five Racing 2014 Huntington Beach Show. But the best part is knowing that I did it all my way, in my own sweet time. You can’t rush art—or custom project cars either.


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Cobra Factory Five