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818S, 818R, & 818C - Concept

The Theory of the 818 by Jim Schenck, Director of R&D

We are in the thick of the design process and vehicle development. I wanted to provide more information and some background on what will soon be the next Factory Five. We’ve been working on the CAD chassis, Subaru running gear, and all-new composite body design and shape with a goal to launch the car in 2013.


Factory Five Director of R&D Jim Schenck (right) with one of the Rhode Island School of Design students who assisted in the 818 body development work.

Let me talk about the running gear first. Factory Five is famous for our strong and light chassis. In this case, we have designed a space-frame consistent with our tradition. Owing to the fact that this is a “World” car, (which means we are designing it to be built in countries all around the world), the running gear HAD to come from a vehicle that is available in most countries on the planet. We decided to use parts from the Subaru Impreza/WRX product line, wagon and sedan, model years 2002-2007. Some parts from earlier year cars will work but not enough to be true single donor(s).

The main reason that Subaru was selected was the engine layout, a longitudinal mid-mounted flat 4 with a transaxle attached which gives fantastic balance, low center of gravity and most importantly a very low total vehicle weight. Some guys have questioned our decision to use the WRX parts, asking why we didn’t run front wheel drive parts from a Civic or a Focus, etc.. To accomplish our aggressive target build cost ($9,990 for the kit price, and ability to complete the vehicle for under $15,000), the car needed to be a true single donor. Using a FWD chassis such as a Civic or Focus would only provide suspension and brakes for one end of the car adding cost. Other reasons for choosing the Subaru parts is that Subaru is known for making big power reliably, the aftermarket is enormous, and the customer base is strong and passionate.

DPM21747Every great car begins with a great chassis, and the 818S chassis (above) is the perfect foundation to build your sports car on!

In all likelihood the flat 6 boxer will not be part of our plan because any amount of extra space will be incorporated into the cockpit. 2-4 Inches may not seem like much but in terms of leg room it can be all the difference.

The design goal behind this car is very straightforward, the car must be simple, lightweight, affordable, and easy to build in countries around the world. The emphasis will be on handling and driving fun rather than on the 200 mph exotic, although the capable chassis should provide an excellent platform for more competition focused builds and fuel-efficient commuters. The majority of the cars we sell are street cars and this will not be an exception, so full lighting, covered wheels, and safety items will all be incorporated. To keep things simple, this will be an elemental performance based street car first but with a roll bar/structure sufficient for track days. The suspension is a double A-arm/multilink with Koni coil-overs on all corners (we will not use the Subaru struts). In terms of what we will use from the Subaru, the goal is everything possible that doesn’t compromise the design goals. We won’t utilize the unibody.

The design competition gave us great ideas and direction for initial roadster body.


The success of this 818 project depends tremendously on the full integration of CAD technology, the application of our accumulated street and track experience, and the input of our talented and passionate customer base. It is our largest challenge to date and yet, I am confident we will deliver on the lofty goals.