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Our First Ever Car Show - Showing Off Our Factory Five Racing Mk4 at the FFR HB Cruise-In 2012
By D. Brian Smith
Photography: D. Brian Smith

I've lived half a lifetime going to car shows and auto races as a spectator or as an automotive journalist. On Saturday, April 28, my Dad and I were participants for the very first time. We premiered our finally finished Factory Five Racing Mk4 Cobra roadster replica at the 5th Annual Factory Five Racing Huntington Beach Cruise-In.

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Now we know what we've missed out on all these years. What a thrill! We began our Saturday by firing up the 427 ci Dart aluminum stroker mill at 6:45 am, surely to the chagrin of our neighbors. Hopefully, they thought they were dreaming of a thunderstorm as they were so rudely awakened by the cacophony of torque that emanated from our garage. Our Mk4 cruised in sixth gear at 1,800 rpm and 80 mph along the 5 freeway north, thanks to the Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual transmission that we custom installed in the Mk4. To shoehorn the trans between the bellhouse and the pumpkin necessitated shortening the driveshaft two inches. If there's another Cobra replica with a T56, we'd like to know about it.

The commute from Oceanside to Huntington Beach took an hour and 15 minutes. Just the second time we've ventured on a freeway, our longest journey to date in the freshly finished FFR Mk4 was 80 miles for half the route. We're pleased to report that our baby performed perfectly.

Factory Five Racing's Sally Bean greeted us at the Huntington Beach Pier's north parking lot entrance and directed us to drive onto the Pier's Pavilion area. Soon thereafter, FFR's fearless leader, Dave Smith, showed us where to park. He selected a primo spot for our just finished Factory Five Racing Mk4 C.-car roadster replica, right next to the West Coast Team's FFR 33 Hot Rod that was built on the TV Show Car Warriors.

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Dad and I wore our new Redline Review hats and polo shirts proud, but mainly promoted the fact that the book I just finished for CarTech Books will be available on July 15, 2012 in bookstores across the United States and Canada. Said book is titled How to Build Cobra Kit Cars + Buying Used.

Building a Cobra replica, especially a Factory Five Racing Cobra replica is an absolute blast. There were times when we thought we wouldn't be able to create our version of a Cobra dream car, yet somehow we persevered. Having book deadlines throughout the project helped us to stay on track. We're very proud of what we've created in our garage. And I'm super jazzed that I have written a book about building this car.

The proverbial icing on the cake was to be able to premier our FFR Mk4 at the Factory Five Racing Huntington Beach Cruise-In on April 28, 2012. From my years of covering the kit car and replica hobby as editor of KIT CAR magazine, I am well aware how Factory Five Racing kit builders are like one big happy family. There is a real sense of community, which until now, I could only witness from afar. Now that Dad and I have completed our car, we've become part of the FFR extended family.

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Whether you've successfully restored an original enthusiast automobile or you've built a kit car, there's an indescribable sense of accomplishment and a swelling of pride that comes with finishing the project and driving it. I am so thankful that Dad stuck with me in building our Mk4. I love you, Dad. We did a great job!

But enough about us. The 5th Annual Factory Five Racing Huntington Beach Cruise-In was by all accounts a huge success. The two Car Warriors TV show build FFR 33 Hot Rods were unveiled at the start of the show. There was live music for the first time ever. No less than 198 cars were registered. Later in the day, there were a bounty of awards given out for some very deserving Factory Five Racing builders/owners and their creations.

We pulled the list of winners directly from Factory Five's website. Hearty congratulations to all the winners!

Award Winners:

Best in Show Overall – John Cameron
Best in Show Runner-Up – Chuck Armstrong
Best in Show Roadster Overall – Mike Dingman
Best in Show Roadster Runner-Up – Ralph Valencia
Best in Show Type 65 Coupe Overall – Fernando Vivero
Best in Show Type 65 Coupe Runner-Up – Don Vaught
Best in Show GTM Overall – Ron Richman
Best in Show GTM Runner-Up – Mike Easton
Best in Show ’33 Hot Rod Overall – Erik Hansen
Best in Show ’33 Hot Rod Runner-Up – Dennis Russell
Best Use of Chrome – John Cameron
Best Paint – Craig Baker
Best Engine – Gary Heinbuch
Best Interior/Details - Neil Katz
Most Innovative Design – Chuck Armstrong
Highest Accrued Mileage – Steve Moriarty
Factory Five Legacy Award Winners – Ray McEdwards and Jeff “Da Bat” Miller. Ray McEdwards has helped so many in the Factory Five community over the years, and Jeff, as owner of J. Miller Customs in Temecula, CA, has probably painted more Factory Five Racing cars than anyone else.

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Dad and I feel honored to be part of such a great multitude of car enthusiasts. We could certainly get used to showing our FFR Mk4 instead of simply taking photos and writing about the events. Thank you Factory Five Racing for producing such a fun first show for us and a great event for the entire FFR community. We'll keep coming back for more.

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Earning the top prize of Best of Show was a superlative 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Cabriolet, which is owned by
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