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’33 Hot Rod

A Hot Rod That Handles

For the longest time I swore we would never build a hot rod. The ones I had seen were beautiful machines whose handling and performance were a big disappointment. Our focus at Factory Five has always been to use modern engineering to build cars that perform as good as they look. The idea of building a traditional replica of a 1930s Ford was an inherent conflict. The original frame, chassis, and suspension designs that make up the bulk of what is sold today are not really capable of delivering sports car performance and modern ride quality.

Above: Factory Five tech leader Tony Zullo drives the Special Edition Hot Rod Magazine ’33 through downtown Los Angeles, 2014.

In the October 2004 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, then editor David Freiburger asked illustrator Thom Taylor to pen the lines for what he envisioned as the future of hot rodding in the form of a “race rod.” He dreamed of a “glass body on a full-tube chassis with a gen 3 aluminum V-8 at 2,400 lbs. “Imagine the violence,” he would write.

When Jim Schenck, our director of R&D, came to me with his ideas for a next generation hot rod, I was immediately impressed. The idea of making a high-performance and comfortable daily driver ‘33 was exciting and that race rod sketch immediately came to mind.

Jim’s ideas weren’t limited to just designing a performance hot rod. His excellent understanding of the Hot Rod market enabled him to see where there were opportunities for a “leap-frog” product. Today, most hot rods are looks first and everything else a distant second. In addition to performance that leaves something to be desired, most guys are forced to cobble together parts from a wide variety of companies and sources.

Jim pitched me on the idea of using the Factory Five product template on the Hot Rod. The idea was to stay as traditional as possible, but make performance and drivability the focus and package all the parts together to reduce the number of places a guy has to go. It made a lot of sense.

We introduced the Factory Five ‘33 at the November 2008 SEMA Show where it earned “Best in Show – Hot Rod” and “Best Engineered Product – Runner-Up.” In 2012, the car won the GoodGuys National Autocross title in both pro and street classes and Top 10 Cars at SEMA! In its short life, the car has earned a slew of awards and industry recognition. The car has changed the way people think about the “stereo-typical” version of a hot rod.


Dave Smith