DIY auto company sends exotic cars around the globeFactory Five Racing and the tools of the modern craftsman
Surrounded by cranberry bogs and down the road from the old Tremont Nail factory is a small new england manufacturing company that also happens to be one of the largest replica car manufacturers in the world.
Brothers Dave and Mark Smith grew up in Puerto Rico fixing up cars and building go karts and in 1995 they left their careers on opposite sides of the country to form Factory Five Racing. Almost 20 years later, Factory Five has sold over 10,000 car kits all over the globe.
"Everybody thinks we're a car company but we're not. We're a parts and engineering company, said Dave Smith, president of Factory Five Racing. His company provides all the pieces of replica and originally designed cars to people who then build them on their own. The only things they don't provide are engines, transmissions, wheels and tires and paint. It's basically a life size working version of a model car.
"It's like a big kids Toys R' Us," said Dan Golub, who works in tech support for Factory Five.
That's certainly what it feels like when you approach the all glass front doors to Factory Five at 9 Tow Road and are greeted by a showroom filled with exotic cars, from the American muscle of the Type 65 Coupe to the sleek lines of "the fastest car you can build in your garage," according to Car & Driver magazine - the GTM Supercar.
"We get a lot of people who drive by and slow down to look in here every day," Golub said.
There are plenty of other car kit manufacturers around the country, but few went from $0 to $10 million in sales in six years, which is what Factory Five achieved according to a Facebook post by Mark Smith.
Dave, who bought out Mark's half of the company in 2012, said, "the absolute commitment to technology makes us different."
Smith was working with computer aided design software to reconstruct nerves in the spinal columns of monkeys at the BU Medical School in the late 80s. He said aerospace companies and programs like NASA were using this technology, but no one was using it to design cars. Smith said it was the early adoption of technology and the continually growing involvement of technology in his factory that gave him a leg up on the competition.
"We started out by saying hey, we'll use this technology when everyone else makes things by hand," he said. "These are the tools of the modern craftsman."
While their use of cutting edge technology has made the company so successful, it's the dedication of the Factory Five community and their traditional tools that keep the company atop the kit car world.
"Larry Webster, the editor of Road & Track magazine, said to me 'you're doing well because you let people build stuff'," Smith said.
He said his company gives people the tools to put themselves into the car, to customize and tinker to their hearts desire. "It's for the do-it-yourself type of guy," Smith said.
He said the company has shipped cars all over the world from South Africa and the Phillipenes, to Australia, Germany and even Azerbaijan.
"We've had people drive in to pick up their car and tour the facility from California, Washington, Alaska," Golub said.
In case you were wondering, it's 4,037 miles from Juneau, Alaska to Wareham.
Golub said the company has many repeat customers who will buy a kit, build the car, then just sell it and buy another one.
"A majority of other kit sellers will give you a finished vehicle," Golub said. "We cater to the hobbyists."
Smith said in the future he would like to look into designing a truck and even getting into the aircraft industry.
"We don't sell cars, we sell projects," he said.