Half a Million+ Miles on a Factory Five: Ralph Button (The Energizer Bunny)

Legend has it Ralph Button drives himself to his races, and has hit record mileage on his Factory Five Mk1 Roadster -if you haven’t seen the video on Ralph, “The Traveler” we’ve linked it here. 

Recently, while Ralph was on an evening drive “tuning” his dual carbs, a deer ran across the road striking Ralph’s Mk1. 

We send our deepest condolences to the deer’s family. As for the Mk1, it survived the hit! Regardless, car shows don’t appreciate scar stories as much as we do. The London Cobra Show was coming up, so some red fender stripes were added to the body to cover up a broken fender. Ralph and his granddaughter made it to the show with the fender taped together!

After the show it was time to start the updates he had put off until the deer incident. His wife said he had to order a new body, and Ralph said “Well if I must… then I must!”

With the help of students at the body shop on BOCES campus in Coopers Plains, NY he had a MkIII body delivered to be cleaned up and painted with stripes. Then he hand delivered the doors, hood and trunk from his Mk1 body to BOCES. Just to give them some extra work – the doors and trunk were carbon fiber!

While the students did the body work, Ralph decided to remove the entire wiring harness, (Mustang harness from 1990) and install a newer Ron Francis harness. While doing the rewiring he also converted all lighting to LED. And as soon as he saw the Factory Five carbon fiber dash he threw out his old dash and ordered one.

With the body off, he had time for some welding reinforcement to the tranny tunnel – to keep the door from popping open during hard turns. And while he was working on the tranny tunnel, he purchased a rebuilt tranny T5Z.

Then it was time to work on the rear end. The outer axle bearing had worn down, so he bought an all new axle housing with new 31 spline hardened axles. Wanting to retain his 4 bolt axles, he found a set of axles with the older mustang 4 bolt pattern. Things were going smoothly until he went to install the rear disk brakes and the rotor spacing was off, so he had the stud machined down to allow the old rotor to fit on the axles. 

When Ralph picked up the body from BOCES and realized the holes for the roll bar were not there, his wife was happy to hear it could be the end to his racing career. Regardless, we know that some things never change, and for Ralph that is his love for racing. He says not to worry as he has “a plan to get the roll bar reinstalled with plates to cover the holes.” This way he can take the roll bar on and off.

Congratulations Ralph on an incredible Factory Five Mk1 Roadster update, helping students continue to learn about cars, a recent registration conversion from Texas to NY, and 615,215 miles on your chassis!

If you doubt anything about this story, come talk to Ralph yourself at the Open House —I’m sure he’s driving in from New York. 

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