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’33 Hot Rod

How We Came to Build a Hot Rod

Ten years ago 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 1930’s 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, handling, and ride quality.

Factory Five '33 Hot Rod

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 later 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 and recalled Freiburger’s “race rod” concept. The idea of making a high performance AND comfortable daily driver ’33 was exciting and R&D work began in earnest.

Jim’s ideas weren’t limited to just designing a performance Hot Rod. His excellent understanding of the 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. Namely, 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 promptly earned “Best in Show – Hot Rod” and “Best Engineered Product – Runner-Up”. Since then, the car has earned a slew of awards and industry recognition. The car has stirred a lot of people’s imaginations and changed the way people think about the “stereo-typical” version of a Hot Rod. We did the same thing with our revolutionary AC replica more than 15 years ago….here we go again.

Dave Smith