Michele and I have been building and racing a Factory Five Roadster (Cobra replica) for over 10 years. It’s been a real hoot, and we’ve had great fun doing it.
But, after 10 years of racing, the Cobra is getting a little long in the tooth. Seems like we have to fix something every time we race. And sometimes we don’t make it through an entire week end. Although last season went really well.
This is also a street and show car. After a race week end, it’s a lot of work to turn it back in to a street car. Especially if it also needs some repairs.
It was time to either rebuild the car from the ground up, or build another car entirely. We decided to build another car, and retire the Cobra to street duty only. Greener pastures, so to speak.
I was casting around for something fun. If I just wanted to go fast, I would buy a Corvette; best racing value on the market today. But I wanted another open car – they’re more fun. And it had to be different; not just another whatever. Most of all, it had to be reliable. Lap after lap, day after day, season after season. Going home early is not fun. It also needs to be at least as fast as the Cobra, so a top speed of around 140-145’ish. But it needs a better suspension and aerodynamics. The Cobra is about as aerodynamic as the garage I built it in.
There are a lot of options out there, and tough to choose. The 818 from Factory Five racing was looking really good. But racing a Subaru engine and transmission is not a cheap enterprise.
I was reading “Kit Car Builder” magazine, which contained an article about the Exocet. It’s a exoskeleton car, much like the Ariel Atom. It uses a Miata as a donor. Which means that go fast suspension parts are readily available, affordable, and very good. The Miata is the most raced car on the planet.
At the end of the article was this statement: “Of course, it will fit an LS engine.” Eureka! I found it! The perfect car for us. All I had to was build it. Simple, right? I’v built two kit cars, how hard can this one be? Simple off the shelf swap parts, and you’re done. Yeah, right. It’s never that easy, is it?
So, we’re off.
I started this web site to document the process. Instructions from Exocet are minimal. And it’s not as simple as dropping a V8 into a Miata. Things don’t fit the Exocet the same as they do in a Miata. I had to custom build some parts, and nothing seems to fit the way I’d like it to.
I do not intend to document a step by step process for building a V8 Exocet. That would be long and boring. Besides, I have a car to finish. I’ll try to hit the high points for everything. But some parts required a lot of customization. For those parts I’ll try to provide a lot of detail.
Bob “Iron Man” Cowan
NASA Rocky Mountain, TTU #42
Colorado Springs, CO
UPDATE 10/16: Sadly, our beloved factory Five Racing Cobra replica met it’s fiery end in a grocery store parking lot. Near as I can tell, a fuel fitting broke or came loose, the Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump fed a large amount of fuel on to the coil pack. The car was destroyed.
My heart is broken. I loved that car. I owned this car longer than any other car in my whole life. I spent hundreds of hours in R&D. She was one of a kind, like no other car on the planet. I could make that car dance and sing. She could make me smile and laugh like no other. I really miss her.
Now we’re working on a Backdraft Cobra. She’s beautiful, equipped with a supercharged Coyote 5.0 engine and a 6 speed automatic transmission. Very fast, and very smooth. Not quite on the road yet, but very soon.