We don’t structure the build for speed,” R&D director Jim Schenck says. “It’s designed to deliver periodic rewards so that you don’t get discouraged.” I backtrack, swap the spacers, and continue. Soon enough, I’m lifting the 8.8-inch solid rear end into place with a floor jack and mating it to the chassis. The suspension goes on, followed by the hubs and brakes. The wheels are especially satisfying, the whir and rattle of the impact driver tightening the lugs on the studs. I’ve been in here for three or four hours, but it feels like minutes. I would’ve bungled more than a few steps without Schenck’s help, but I feel like I could do this.
I walk outside to fire up a completed Mk4. This one’s got Ford’s 5.0 Coyote engine, found in Mustangs. It’s a popular option with plenty of power, and the result is a balanced, controllable car. But it drives like you’re riding a grenade-powered skateboard. It feels too raw for the street.
In a way, it is. You can’t just buy a car like this from a dealer. The thicket of regulations that govern modern vehicles means that building a kit is the only way to get a new car that’s exempt from rules about stability-control systems and ignition interlocks. That changes next year with the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, which will allow a company like Factory Five to sell as many as 325 kit cars per year fully assembled.
Rust and cracks in auto panels can be easy to fix, but people often skip these repairs. They think of them as costly or time-intensive. But with the right tools and guidance, it can actually be a very simple process. Welding might seem like an intimidating skill and many professional and home-repair techs avoid it. But it doesn’t have to be a challenge.
But skipping to the finished product, I found, is missing the point. Only when these parts are scattered all over your garage and you’re muscling a torque wrench to the positive click of 190 lb-ft do you appreciate the artfully orchestrated amalgamation of parts that gets you to the Quik Mart. Where, incidentally, a woman pulls alongside my silver and yellow Mk4 and declares, “Badass.” I smile, waiting for her to ask who made it.