Don Nickol’s Mk4 Roadster

The MkIV Roadster Report

“We all love this iconic car. It will turn heads at breaking speed, and bring smiles and thumbs up signs where ever it may go. I guarantee that people will walk up to you and want to know all about your car.

I said to myself, you are not getting any younger so why don’t you make something that you can be proud of, and include your family and friends in it. I could have bought a new you name it. The problem is the word “bought”, just like anyone else, you can buy something, but are you truly connected to it?

First off, I am a mechanic and business owner for over 40 years and I’ve seen just about everything when it comes to vehicles. I have worked on many different replica cars from different companies and I have seen the quality, the fit and finish, and the final product from these companies. You will not find a better, more well-designed and supported component vehicle project than Factory Five Racing (FFR).

I am 59 years old, 6’ tall 250lbs, and very comfortable even on long road trips. A conservative estimate to build this car is $38K but the experience is priceless. Remember, this project is based on a 1987 to 2004 Mustang. I used a 5.0L Fox Body Mustang as a donor vehicle.

I received my MkIV Roadster in March of 2019 and finished it in September of 2021; it is one of my proudest accomplishments. It took me a little longer to build than most because of the COVID issue. Now, I drive it everywhere —in the mountains, along the coast, to car shows and even to pick up parts for my business. It has been in a Hagerty Insurance calendar, and won several car show awards.

If you have a steadfast mindset and mechanical skills, you can complete this project. I’ll give you some pointers on how you can affordably construct a Factory Five Roadster MkIV that will give you awesome performance without putting you in the poorhouse. 

So, let’s get started, first you need to contact Factory Five Racing (FFR) and order an assembly manual, order the “Base Manual” in book form first. This will be your bible through your project. Then read it at least 3 times and highlight any areas of concern. Watch all of Factory Five’s videos, see and understand the building process before you work on your project. If you need extra guidance Factory Five has an assembly school, (Factory Five Build School at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan) that will teach you how to assemble your project. I don’t know any other company that supports the builder/owner more than Factory Five. Also, join the FFR forum website to get more information and eventually collaborate with other builders!

Photo by Creigh McIntyre at Creigh Photography

Next, place an order for the “Complete Kit” and set the delivery date for 3 months out. I will explain why later in this article. Keep a file of all receipts/invoices. You will need the invoice for the DMV registration. Call FFR and ask for a receipt/ invoice showing the purchase of just the Body and Frame. This invoice is what you show to the DMV. Next, the fun part, locating a damaged 5.0L Fox Body Mustang that has a good running drivetrain. This is going to be your donor parts vehicle. Remember, find the best vehicle for your price range. The better your donor car is, the easier it will be to complete your project. 

At the end of this article, I have listed some of the support companies that you may want to contact for parts and accessories. 

The parts you will need off your donor vehicle are:

1. 5.0L engine complete w/ mounts

2. 5 speed manual (Tremec T-5) or AOD automatic transmission w/mount

3. Differential 8.8 with a ratio from 2:73 to 3:55 (4 Link)

4. Power brake complete system w/ spindles

5. Fuel tank, Radiator, shroud

6. E-Brake assembly (handle, cables, hardware)

7. Driveshaft

8. Misc. brackets/hardware and linkage

9. Power steering rack assembly


This is where your family time comes in (son, daughter, etc..), but Do Not Allow young children in the work area. The family can help you dismantle your donor vehicle, clean and paint the parts and learn something in the process. You must include your spouse in this project. Remember to take lots of photos, this will help you during the reassembly process. Obviously, if you come across a worn or broken part replace it, leaking seals and gaskets replace them.

Don’t cut corners, do it right. After you remove all your necessary parts from your donor vehicle, you can sell what is left (doors, hood, glass, body parts etc.) to recoup some of your costs. The Ford 5.0L/302 engine is one of the most well supported motors on the market. There are part suppliers everywhere for this motor. If your motor is worn and tired you can always buy a complete drop-in motor for $5-7k. The 4.6L is a great motor but might be more tedious to install with its large electrical harness loom for a new builder. Also, for simplicity I would suggest not running the stock 5.0L EFI fuel injection and opt for installing a Holley or Edelbrock carburetor, manifold and fuel pump, all for under $600. This will save you a lot of time. I’ve always lived by the “KISS” system. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. I built my MkIV with an AOD (automatic overdrive) transmission so my wife could drive it, but nothing feels as much fun as a 5-speed manual. Also, power steering is a must have.

The stock Fox Body 5.0L serpentine power steering system will not work in the MkIV; it interferes with the steering shaft, so you can purchase an aftermarket KRC pump ($950) or find a 5.0L T-Bird serpentine mount at the junkyard. The Fox power steering pump sits at a 3 o’clock position which contacts the steering shaft, the 5.0L T-bird serpentine pump mount sits at a 2 o’clock position and clears the shaft. I prefer the OEM look over aftermarket. If a stock power brake system can stop a 3200lbs Mustang, then I feel it should work well stopping 2100lbs MkIV Roadster. Also, most Fox body Mustangs have 4 lug wheels, and this will limit your choice on available wheels to choose from. Order a new set of front brake rotors/ rear drums with 5 lugs and remove your rear axles, take them to a differential shop where they can be re-drilled/welded for 5 lug wheels. Depending on your wheel choice you may need longer wheel studs. The 8.8 differential is also well supported and usually comes with a limited slip carrier. There is a large selection of gear ratios to choose from, I installed a 3:73 ratio. 

The reason I suggested asking FFR for a Body/ Frame invoice was because when you go to register your car with the DMV, they want to see your purchase receipt/invoice from Factory Five (FFR). The DMV wants to tax you on the parts, body/ chassis (frame) and the cost of the donor vehicle is all you want to show them. Obviously, less is better. Being in the automotive business I thought I could obtain the rest of my parts (tires/wheels, bumpers, electrical, suspension etc.) cheaper than Factory Five (FFR). I was very wrong, Factory Five is very competitive on prices, Obviously, they want you to complete your project. So, that being said, the “Complete Kit” is the way to go. You will be much happier and your project will get done sooner.

The reason I suggested a 3-month delay for delivery of your project is to give you time to prepare your parts for installation. Now, let’s discuss possible time or money saving options with the MkIV kit: 

1. I suggest painting the frame with “Por 15” epoxy paint over powder coating (saving $700).

Powder coating looks great but can easily scratch and discolor with chemical cleaners.

2. Have FFR do the body cut-outs. It will save a lot of time. Worth the money ($150.)

3. FFR / Ron Francis complete wiring harness. Huge time savings ($650)

4. Buy ceramic coated exhausted manifolds, it will cut the heat big time. ($500)

5. Don’t install a under sized crank pulley, it will affect your alternator voltage output.

6. Install thermal / acoustic sheets on both sides of your aluminum panels. It will make your car

feel much more solid, less heat and noise.

7. Purchase a pneumatic rivet gun, huge time saver (Harbor Freight)

8. Power steering is a must. Look for 5.0L T-Bird assembly

9. Power brakes also a plus,

10. Purchase the GPS gauge set. You’ll love it.

Building my FFR MK IV Roadster was such a positive high, I never became tired of working on it. The parts bolted in exactly where they were designed and the only modifications, I did were adding cup holders, seat heaters, air conditioning, removable steering wheel, automatic transmission and sunken trunk tubs for  added storage etc.


-Don Nickol


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