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Thread: 818 Project Updates From Dave

  1. #1
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    818 Project Updates From Dave

    Hey guys, sorry for the absence. I am looking at this project in stages and considering the scope of it and the potential to the company of a successful development, I think it wise to focus on goals and stages and NOT make bold predictions that don't come true. Also, this car/(s) has already been under development for some time when you consider that the tdi tech was started with the west philly high car two years ago and the gel coating/mold making work on the mk4 was started with being able to do paint-free panels. I guess what I'm saying is I want to talk about the stages we have completed as well as those that lie ahead to give you guys an accurate update on the project.

    Let me start by reviewing the stages we've completed and then discuss the steps ahead.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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    Factory Five Racing

  2. #2
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    The earliest work on this project was related to the Mk4 Roadster, Local Motors, and the Gen 2 GTM. R&D Dir Jim Schenck was charged with the selection/identification of the next Factory Five. There was intense debate as there were two competing projects, this subaru-based sports car we've called the 818 and an off-road truck project (which was beaten back by the first).

    We knew the 818 design goals and price targets would involve a paint-free body design (gel coat), so the work on the new Mk4 molds and red gel coat was done to prepare for that and learn about the process. That projects in one car affect others is by design, and the real chance that the 818 will be free from "requiring paint" is a result of the work done on the Mk4. I'm not saying the mk4 is a gel-coat only, paint free body (it is not), but that molding work got us close and helped us learn what we need to do on the 818 to reach that goal. Paint alone is a HUGE enemy of the completed car budget. Most may paint the car, but by having an option like gel coating, the car can be built for a real low budget.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  3. #3
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    The export-capable basis of the 818 caused it to win out, while the car was only barely described with design goals. Jim went full speed ahead on the running gear and chassis design for the first car, while we went to the community on the body shaping work.

    When Local Motors started out, they sought council from us and others as to what their first model should be. Jim's concept of the 818 was discussed and my concept of building a high-mileage capable car, essentially a GTM with a TDI engine in it. local Motors decided to go a different direction, and Jim and I kept to our beliefs about the next car. We were fortunate to have Simon Hauger from West Philly High School do ALL the development on the GTM powered by a TDI and the results were stunning. My crazy brother, who had not worked for 8 years was impatient and decided to take the TDI-GTM idea that I hatched in 2007 and start his own company. My opinion of that car has remained private, but I think he has made a number of wrong turns and FFR would NEVER design a kit car that way, never. Still, the concept of a build-it-yourself high mpg capable car is going to be part of the 818 evolution, only the right way! Jim's passion is for track cars and as the 10 year veteran director of our race series, is infinitely capable so the 818 was pulled in the performance direction.

    So there we have it, the 818 needed to satisfy three distinct car niches, a literal Swatch-watch of cars with a chassis capable of being three distinct cars in one.

    1. a $9,900 roadster based on impreza running gear (on the low end) and WRX running gear for max performance.
    2. A high mpg capable car powered by a Audi/VW TDI mill/trans with the same Subaru remaining parts for value (brakes, spindles, etc), and modified super high-tech aero-coupe body
    3. A track-focused 1800 lb. giant slayer with the same Subaru parts but upgraded chassis/cage, brakes from wilwood (done), shocks from Koni (done), modified body for competition to be on-par with the best but a budget to serve the everyman.
    Last edited by Dave Smith; 07-07-2011 at 10:42 PM.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    As chassis design and running gear was selected, we decided to work with Grassroots Motorsports on the body design competition. We kept the design parameters as wide open as possible, knowing there were several likely masters to serve (track car, street budget car, mpg exotic coupe) and aslo not wanting to restrict the creative process, only keep it within some real world 818 chassis dimensions. It would turn out to be a great decision as the designs were really all over the map and ideas from many could contribute to the three design directions. That's where we ended the Open House a month ago, with the selection of winning designs, but the treasure trove of 700+ designs and perhaps as many as 100 really great ones along the three lines I described.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  5. #5
    Senior Member riptide motorsport's Avatar
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    This should be enough info to keep us elaborating for quite some time!!
    FFR Daytona Type 65 Coupe
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by riptide motorsport View Post
    This should be enough info to keep us elaborating for quite some time!!
    I disagree! Keep it comin' Dave, I don't care if I sleep through work tomorrow, gotta know more!

  7. #7
    Thanks for the updates, Dave! One quick question... will all versions of the 818 be original body designs, or will you guys offer something based on a well-known, historic production/racing car?

  8. #8
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    The next big stage/challenge is where we are right now. While there are a thousand smaller challenges (like the name of the car which you guys have done an exceptional job with!), the real big next stage is to select and make the body shape for the first car. The first car will HAVE to be the value priced roadster body as a build-it-yourself $9,900 kit with a completion target cost of sub $15,000. THESE ARE NOT FAIRY TALE PREDICTIONS, BUT RATHER SERIOUS AND WELL-CONSIDERED NUMBERS. Still, with 16 design winners and maybe 100 great designs, we need to see the cars in some real form before thinking that a concept car/drawing will translate perfectly into full size.

    This next stage is BODY DESIGN. We will probably launch one car first and then follow up that launch with the other two models. Still there is no reason NOT to select the body shapes for all three distinct models based on 1/4 scale models. That is where we are now.

    We are currently working on building the scale models and then will bring them to you guys here on-line for open debate. There is no path for all three cars that inlcudes a timeline.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  9. #9
    A track-focused 1800 lb. giant slayer with the same Subaru parts but upgraded chassis/cage, modified body for competition to be on-par with the best but a budget to serve the everyman.
    compatible with STI motor and 6speed perhaps?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ks2 View Post
    compatible with STI motor and 6speed perhaps?
    STi transmission is a major problem due to the way the center diff works, lots of discussion on that elsewhere in the forum. Let's focus on the news!

  11. #11
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    The road ahead for the 818 is two main milestones.

    1. Multiple body designs in 1/4 scale real-life 3-d finished models (painted, details, etc). 1/4 scale is pretty big and we will show you guys these at FFR and in video so that we can have a very good idea of the completed car looks, sits, etc. You guys can vote/debate/discuss and help direct the car selection and perhaps changes to it.

    2. SEMA! This is going to be a very big stretch considering all the things we are trying to do at FFR, but I want to show a full size car (as we did with our prototype GTM) at the SEMA show this coming November.

    Sooo, for you guys impatient with the process, I will not post daily pictures rusty parts (we are not doing it that way), but you can count on two milestones ahead, the first being real-life scale models that should resemble the cars very closely and the next being an unveil of the next Factory Five at the Nov SEMA show.

    The only scale models I will admit to is Xabiers car (3rd place) and the winner as hardtop (but there are currently 4). Still, IF we can refine the modeling process we will have more designs that we can build at smaller scale to put to you guys for opinions. Regardless of the number and designs (vintage replica or original designs x 3) the process will then go to surface scanning, scaling and milling the final body in full size, thereby greatly accclerating the body/molding timetable. 2012 is still within reach, but we will NOT make a date prediction that we don't have planning, capability, or resources to meet.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  12. #12
    I might have to trek out to Wareham to see those models. Maybe this time I'll even be able to drive the donor out there

  13. #13
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    With respect to the modeling process, we are taking two concurrent paths. Students at Rhode Island School of Design are working on clay models made traditionally, to 1/4 scale. We are also working with Solidworks to print 3-d models from CAD drawings of the car designs.

    The actual body designs selected is a very sensitive subject. I PERSONALLY made the decision to separate the design contest from requiring the winner be the car we make. We have full freedom to use the winners, parts and elements of the winners or any submissions in the process. Since there is ALOT of emotion connected to the design selection and since some drawings and concepts look so much better on paper or at least different in the real world (read Foose drawings and the completed cars) I figured we would next go to you guys with actual scale models of some concepts, but more than concepts, cars that will be very close to what we make.

    I know the date of SEMA, but I cannot predict the dates that models get done. I also do not wish to speculate on production times at this point, only to say that while the technology we are employing should shorten the normal development time, the resources we have (less than in years past) will make the process longer. We will not sell deposits on a car that hasnt been built, designed, tested, and undergone a legitimate beta program. So lets focus on the next milestones of body selection based on models and scaling up to a full-size car by SEMA in November.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  14. #14
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    That's another good point is that I have to get a website put together with parts lists that we KNOW of, chassi and running gear specs, etc. The daily tips/hints here need to be added to the tech wikis on the 818 as they are PRICELESS and better than GOLD!

    I hope that gives you guys some idea of where we are. The work that i just mentioned, and updated website, posting a gallery of submisison images, completing the models and showing them to you guys (maybe have a august/sept open house type event),.. these things will take time. It's funny cause we can keep you guys entertained with daily updates on a project that will never happen, or maybe frustrate you a tad with a project that progresses along a professional timeline, yet is updated periodically and appropriately. I chose the later and trust you understand we have a great team in-house and competent partners outside working on this. Hope this update has helped.

    Tomorrow I will be working crazy doing tours at FFR since most of the crew is in Ohio for the Goodguys show. I will try and answer questions posted here at the end of the day or over the weekend. Thanks for your stoke and I hope you can tell that my silence is a poor measurement of my excitement for the 818.
    Last edited by Dave Smith; 07-07-2011 at 10:58 PM.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  15. #15
    Thanks Dave,
    Any chance you can send out emails to everyone when you make significant posts, even if it just says check the Forum for new updates?

  16. #16
    that would be awesome as i know myself and many other forum members are already sourcing parts and donors for the build, getting a rough idea of what we need would be great

    getting the 6MT to stay FWD is do-able, and for higher power applications i would rather have the thicker bellhousing and stronger gears, i know bremar makes conversion kits (though i have not yet contacted them about 6mt's) worst case scenario i get the STI motor and just mate it to a 5speed with good clutch and RA gears

    i realized i am threadjacking with this so i will bring it up later in a more appropriate place, for now xabiers design, the wiki and sema updates are going to awesome and will give me something to watch while im away

  17. #17
    Dave, having seen you buzzing around the Open House, there is no doubt that you have massive amounts of stoke for this project. If this were the 19th century, you'd be the guy shoveling coal into the furnace at the forge. (Terrible pun!)

    I think a partial parts list would be a great teaser for us if it were updated with some regularity. There have been a surprising number of threads asking "would this car work as a donor" and given the depth of Subaru knowledge here, that list would help answer those questions. I know the last thing you want at this point is a bunch of customers with donors pestering you to move faster while they fight to the death for the first kit, but for some the right car at the right time could be a big deal.

    I've applauded your decision to rely on an interdisciplinary team rather than a messiah for this project and these posts only reinforce my willingness to sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Rest assured though, if all three bodies are ugly, I'm going be quite critical

  18. #18
    he did say he was using xabiers for one...

  19. #19
    One of the three scale models is Xabier's design. My reading of this thread (and from conversations at the open house) is that the models are to better illustrate the top designs. Not that every design that is modeled will be turned into a production vehicle.

  20. #20
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    Shoot, one more thing... I do really intend to make three cars from this platform, but for budget and resources reasons, we need to pick one to start with the others to follow. Also we do intend to go from model to surface scan to scale in solidworks to frame/chassis to milling and plug very quickly. IF we can do many body models reasonably costed we will, however, I think we might get pretty lucky and I am very hopeful the 1/4 scale (most or all) will go to production. As far as ugly is concerned, I agree, if we decide to make an ugly car, then please know that the "me that I am now" would want you to kick the "me that I would be then's" butt. Seriously, we know the chassis and running gear combo is a winner already. We HAVE to have a radical, stunning, beautiful, "make-you-want-to-sell your-kids-to-have-one", "willing to take a swing at your mom for it" good looking car.

    More tomorrow or over the weekend.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  21. #21
    Thanks, Dave, for the updates and the insight into the project-development process.

    All my street cars have been VWs, and I owned a TDI for ten years, so I am definitely interested in the TDI version. I'm also interested in the race version; it just might make me replace my Spec Miata.

    As for updates, I vote for reliable, considered updates with solid information when possible, as opposed to daily updates with a discussion of only possibilities instead of reliable information.

  22. #22
    Junior Member Jammin's Avatar
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    Hi Dave
    Very exciting info. I have been very quite here latley, but have been reading a lot. I do have a few questions on the gel coat body. The paint free gel coat, will that be offered in a couple of different colors? My second question is about the 1/4 scale cars. Will these be put through a wind tunnel to see how they perform or can that be done on computers?
    John

  23. #23
    Senior Member Silvertop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebeerbaron View Post
    I might have to trek out to Wareham to see those models. Maybe this time I'll even be able to drive the donor out there
    Me too!! Except I'll have to get on an airplane. Too far to drive a donor car that I have not yet purchased, and which I will probably wait to purchase until I see which engine/transmission will best suit my needs for the 818 version that I wind up buying.

    But a visit to Wareham some time in the next six months to a year is a lead-pipe cinch. Or maybe to SEMA. Excitement Renewed !!!!

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Smith View Post
    please know that the "me that I am now" would want you to kick the "me that I would be then's" butt. Seriously, we know the chassis and running gear combo is a winner already. We HAVE to have a radical, stunning, beautiful, "make-you-want-to-sell your-kids-to-have-one", "willing to take a swing at your mom for it" good looking car.


    I'm going to hold you to that Dave... I've got no kids to sell, but if I have to, I'll sell someone else's kids to pay for this. Looking forward to a great car!

  25. #25
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    The cool thing about Solidworks is that you can do flow analysis/wind tunnel simulation and a host of other things (we've done rigidity chassis stuff already). Confirming the data in the real world is probably best done when the car is full size and this is SUPER important if MPG design is the one up (the track car also).

    Jim is going to be REALLY busy for the next three weeks with a Spec race at Mid-Ohio next weekend and another race event at VIR the following weekend. The model-making is going full speed ahead, so we'll report on that first. In the meantime I'll be struggling to get the data/updates to our website as well as the gallery of winners maybe next week (but Mad Dog, our web guru is out til thursday).


    My personal favorite design, but keep in mind that this is a collaborative process, when I want the answer, I'll give it to you... kidding. In all seriousness, the 818 process has been amazingly collaborative in the right places and very directive in others where merited. I believe that the success of the car will be that synthesis of our 15+ years of chassis-building/performance skills and the group collaboration of talented community individuals, strong partner companies, and the honest feedback of the FFR race and car-building community (NOT the general public). You guys here are the community of enthusiasts along with the group at GRM and other more dedicated user forums and groups. The export requirements will require those community assets as well and we've been working on that line in anticipation.
    Last edited by Dave Smith; 07-08-2011 at 08:24 AM.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  26. #26
    Thanks for the updates Dave, lots of good info here. Excited the hear that the parts list is going to be put together so I can start looking for a suitable donor!
    November seems far away right now and can't come quick enough for me, but I'm sure its going to come up extremely quickly for all the work you guys have to do before SEMA.
    Good luck with everything, I'm sure you and the crew will be able to pull it off and have a very popular booth.

  27. #27
    Wow, so much (great) news, that should keep us entertained for a while.

    +1 on the gel-coat colors question. Its been asked many times. Are there plans to offer multiple gel-coat colors?

    On the street vs mpg vs track thing, my thought is to continue the swatch-watch analogy to the mix-n-match of drivetrain/chassis as well. Someone may want the streetcar body, but the mpg drivetrain, and the race chassis stuff. Or the mpg body, the wrx motor, standard running gear, etc.

    So when designing the bodies, don't think 'mpg body' so much as 'coupe body'. Yes, it still needs to be slippery, but have in mind more than just a super mpg commuter.

    BTW I'm really excited about the high mpg option (though I'll probably build with wrx powertrain). Since forever, high mpg cars have just been economy cars. The most basic of options, and absolutely no performance features. Wimpy chassis, cheap suspension and brakes.

    I'm hoping the TDI 818 will create a whole new class of car. Light, fun to drive, high performance handling, but great mpg. I think this car will garner a big following that falls outside the 'gear-head' norm.

  28. #28
    I agree. I don't want a rocket but I also don't want to live in what sometimes seems like the cookie cutter world of affordable cars.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oppenheimer View Post
    Someone may want the streetcar body, but the mpg drivetrain, and the race chassis stuff. Or the mpg body, the wrx motor, standard running gear, etc.

    So when designing the bodies, don't think 'mpg body' so much as 'coupe body'. Yes, it still needs to be slippery, but have in mind more than just a super mpg commuter.

  29. #29
    President, Factory Five Racing Dave Smith's Avatar
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    Gel coat technology has come a long way. One challenge is that multiple colors require, depending on the variation, different color mold surfaces. For example, a dark gel coat like black or blue metallic requires a lighter mold surface like orange (to see air voids and lay-up gel-coat correctly. The lighter gels coats like red or silver require a darker mold surface, so factoring that into the equation makes multiple colors possible, but within restricted ranges.

    I agree on the body shapes, like a super-modern coupe that may be the primary body for the aero-mpg car, could also be a rock-star wrx candidate... powering decisions involve alot of variables and space considerations but we will of course be reaching far on all of the above.
    Dave Smith, FFR 001
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  30. #30
    Any cost projections on the "track" version?

    Predicting it could be made road legal?

    Koni shocks off the shelf, or custom?

    Availabe for independent sale from you, should we want to upgrade our "street" versions?

  31. #31
    As a displaced Newfoundlander, I've always wanted to enter the Targa Newfoundland. The 818R might be perfect. I also happen to live right between Mosport and Shannonville...

  32. #32
    Senior Member D2W's Avatar
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    Dave, while I know nothing yet is set in stone I was wondering if you would tell us what you are thinking the specs for the three body designs will be. The track car I assume will have a spartan simple body that covers the chassis. What about the roadster? Do you envision any kind of top? How about side windows, roll up or snap in? Will it be more than a summer car for those of us that have more than one season. Lastly I'm guessing the coupe will also be the most civilized with complete enclosure and possibly HVAC. Just curious what you are envisioning.
    I can do anything with enough time and money.

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by D2W View Post
    Lastly I'm guessing the coupe will also be the most civilized with complete enclosure and possibly HVAC. Just curious what you are envisioning.
    I'm hoping the interior is also swatch-watch. They design something that can reuse as much of the donor dash as possible (maybe none of it, it may just not fit or be practical), where you can include heat, A/C, etc if you want, or delete that stuff. You can build the dash bare-bones (track), full spec, or something in between, as you see fit.

    So rather than 'this body gets this interior, that one gets that', its 'here are your interior options...' You want to build the 'track' body with a full interior, or commuter with bare-bones, go for it.

  34. #34
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    I've known Dave for a long time and this is as pumped up as I've seen him in the last few years. Its one thing that embodies everyone at FFR, passion.
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  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by D2W View Post
    Do you envision any kind of top?
    As stated at the Open House, there will be a top of some kind. Making the Spyder GT completely topless was noted as a mistake.

    Whether the top is included, added cost, soft, hard, windows, etc was not announced/discussed.

  36. #36
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    Dave, thanks for staying in touch this way and for being so open about the process. It's insightful and refreshing.

    I didn't see any mention of go-carting the chassis. Wouldn't that be a milestone, or are you waiting until you figure out the final position of various components like radiator, exhaust, inlets, etc?

    Or have you guys got such a good handle on the design process that this step isn't even necessary?
    Last edited by jimgood; 07-08-2011 at 02:38 PM.

  37. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by jimgood View Post
    I didn't see any mention of go-carting the chassis. Wouldn't that be a milestone, or are you waiting until you figure out the final position of various components like radiator, exhaust, inlets, etc?

    Or have you guys got such a good handle on the design process that this step isn't even necessary?
    Even if its not necessary, it sounds like it would be serious fun. I don't see how they could restrain themselves from doing it, a lot, even if its not required.

  38. #38
    Senior Member D2W's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oppenheimer View Post
    Even if its not necessary, it sounds like it would be serious fun. I don't see how they could restrain themselves from doing it, a lot, even if its not required.
    And posting video
    I can do anything with enough time and money.

  39. #39
    Even though I've owned, successfully developed, and raced an FFR for over 11 years, it's the 818 that I'm hoping will realize my dream to buy and built a kit from you. The stumbling block up to the 818 has been the time and to a lesser extent the cost of the bodywork. I'm married with two kids and a tiny, tiny one car garage, so building another FFR car always meant likely parting with FFR1630, which I could never bring myself to contemplate. A no-bodywork kit means I can stash the FFR 1630 in paid parking, still drive and race it, complete the 818 in a reasonably short amount of time, and park it outside. (Ok, who winced at that! )

    I'd like to consider the 818 as a replacement for my daily driver, and so competing with it are production cars like Porsche Cayman, 911 or Lotus Evora, all of which I consider too boring for the amount of money spent.

    (As a side note, when I bought the "Man in the Box" car back in February of 2000, I wasn't sure what reception I'd get from FFR, seeing as I hadn't paid them for my car. But I recall being welcomed just like their "real" customers, and am grateful for the 818 project and a hopefully the chance to support the company directly.)

    But it's gotta look classy.

  40. #40
    Dave,

    Really great stuff, looking forward to seeing how this all comes together. Curious on the 3D Cad models and Rapid Proto printing of them as to how large you can go? Can you do them at 1/4 scale if you printed it in sections??? (I am supposing you could...)

    -Scott
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