“Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. On July 14th, 2023 I will be 70 years young. I am twice divorced, and have a 17 year old daughter by my second wife that is the apple of my eye! I live alone, and other than my daughter I have no other family locally.
I am not a college grad. After my first year of college I made two mistakes. I dropped out and got married for the first time. I worked for GE Silicones (now Momentive Performance Materials) for 34 years. Last year they wanted to downsize and offered a sizable retirement package which I accepted.
Five years ago, a minor car accident left me with a bruised leg. When it didn’t heal as expected, a visit to the emergency room revealed a diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), a blood cancer. In my bone marrow, cancerous white blood cells were being produced alongside the healthy ones. After undergoing one round of infused chemotherapy that placed it in remission, the cancer resurfaced a year later. At that point, I was deemed too old for injections, so I began a daily pill regimen.
These pills work by inhibiting the enzyme necessary for the cancerous white blood cells to grow and multiply. While this suppresses the cancer, it also affects some of the healthy cells, weakening my immune system and rendering me vulnerable to infections. The financial burden is substantial, with each month’s supply costing upwards of $20,000. Thanks to insurance coverage and grants, I’ve managed to navigate this challenge. The pills have kept the cancer at bay for the past three years, but the unpredictability of its mutations makes it a constant concern. Every four months, I undergo blood tests to assess the situation, living my life in four-month increments.
Ever since FF’s inception, I’ve been closely following its journey. My dreams have always revolved around owning a sports/muscle car, with a particular affection for the coupe. However, my risk-averse nature and life’s twists and turns continuously pushed this aspiration to the back burner. Then, as retirement loomed on the horizon, I was faced with the question of what I truly wanted to do. While I’m an avid computer gamer, the thought of spending my days playing games or idly watching the world pass by on my porch didn’t feel right. A seemingly outrageous idea began to take root – building a FF. But the fear of risk held me back. Moreover, I lacked a suitable workspace. Although I had tinkered with brakes and exhaust systems on my personal vehicles, constructing an entire car was an entirely different proposition. Doubts about my capabilities and concerns about my remaining time on this Earth began to creep in.
I decided to engage with the FF forum, immersing myself in various build threads for both roadsters and coupes. What struck me was the level of detail people were investing in these threads – they read like comprehensive step-by-step manuals. The community was incredibly supportive, with multiple responses offering solutions to any challenges posed. Then, I stumbled upon Paul Borror’s coupe build thread. His meticulous documentation, explanations of his decisions and methods, as well as how he navigated obstacles, was a goldmine of information. This thread played a pivotal role in my determination to take the plunge. I shared my dream with my out-of-state family, who wholeheartedly encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, embrace risk, and invest in myself for once. It was at this point that a memory resurfaced – a session with a psychic my ex-partner had insisted we attend. I had asked her if she saw a sports/muscle car in my future. Her reply? She saw my daughter and me in a red sports car. With this in mind, I embarked on placing my order, fully aware that it could either be a colossal mistake or the best decision I’d ever make.
It’s early November 2021. I have finalized a retirement date for April 30th 2022. I have convinced myself to step way outside my comfort zone and take a huge risk. I am going to fulfill a long time dream of building a FF Daytona Coupe! I needed to decide what to order and to get the down payment in before I came to my senses and canceled my dream. After 34 years working for this company I knew that my retirement bonus would allow me to build the car that I had dreamed about.
Picking between the base kit and the complete kit was a no-brain-er for me. Not having done anything like this before I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I ordered the complete kit as this gave me all the parts I would need and they were all brand new! Using Paul Borror’s build, as inspiration, I upgraded many things. Powder coated frame, GPS gauges, IRS, A/C, Leather wheel, Side windows, 18” wheels, DA shocks and 12.88” brakes.
For a drive train I knew upfront that I wanted a pushrod V-8. I was raised during the muscle car era. The sound of a 427cu was music to my ears. I realized that these cars don’t need that much engine but this was going to be one and done for me and I wanted what I wanted. The issue at that time was the supply chain crisis. Talking with different vendors there was nothing available and no projected delivery dates. I was talking with Mike Forte about what he had to offer and his quote for a 427cu with a TKX was one of the best I had received but he was also having difficulty getting the blocks. He offered me a Boss 427cu stroker that had been bored and stroked to 460cu for the same price and I agreed. That eliminated the unknown delivery date. On November 16th 2021 I sent my order in with my down payment for mid to late June 2022 delivery. Even being so far outside of my comfort zone, that was one of the most exciting days of my life! It was also the day that this dream became real!
I did it! I ordered this car! Now what? I didn’t even have a place to build it! First things first! I had a garage built in my backyard. Now I have a build location! Installed electrical. Installed lighting. Now I needed something to build with! My Mickey Mouse set of tools was not going to cut it! Harbor Freight here we come! Basics like a tool box, compressor, torque wrenches, drills, pop rivet gun, etc.
Again, using Paul’s build as inspiration, I started purchasing custom items and tools. Things like a push button ignition system, Custom seats, LED headlights, stainless steel gas and brake lines among others. I also purchased the custom tools needed like tubing benders, a clamp for making up the A/C hoses, vacuum pump and gauges for charging the A/C system etc. I could have waited and maybe borrowed some of these tools from others but because of my unknown life expectancy I didn’t want anything to delay my progress.
In early December of 2021 I received a call from Dan at FF. I didn’t know why FF would be calling me. Dan told me that another customer, who had ordered the same coupe as I did and had a delivery date of Christmas 2021, had read my story and was willing to trade deliveries with me! To think that someone who had already waited months to get their car was willing to push that out another 7 months just so that I could get an earlier start on mine floored me! I told Dan to thank whoever it was that made the offer but I was unable to accept it as I wouldn’t get the money to pay for it until I retired in May of 2022.
A couple of weeks later I received another call from FF. It was your father! The first thing he asked me was how my health was! Here was the owner of this company calling to ask me how my health was! It blew me away. I had never dealt with a company like this. After some small talk he also told me he had a car ready for me. I thanked him and told him how grateful I was but that I couldn’t accept as I wouldn’t have the money until May. He told me he would try to see if he could work out something to get it to me on credit. That didn’t work out but that was ok with me. To think that the owner of this company would even care enough to make the call and the offer was more than enough!!
I continued to collect the tools and custom parts as the anticipation of delivery day grew closer and closer.
Stewart delivered my kit on June 23, 2022. One of the most exciting days of my life, also one of the most apprehensive. I had gone completely outside of my comfort zone and dumped a ton of money on a dream. I still had no idea if this was the best decision of my life or the worst. What I did know was that it was now real! No more waiting, no more wondering, it was time to step up to the plate.
With the help of local FF owners from the Upstate Cobra Club, my brother who flew up from Florida for a few days and neighbors who couldn’t miss Stewart’s truck, we got everything unloaded and inventoried. That night, as I was standing there looking at the car and the pile of boxes, I truly asked myself what I had gotten myself into. A little bit of fear that I was not capable did creep into my thinking.
The early part of the build was without issue. I’m a nuts and bolts kind of a guy so bolting the suspension on, mounting the gas tank, pop riveting panels was no big deal. As I did more I gained the confidence that I could do more. But when it comes to building a car I don’t know what I don’t know. I did rely heavily on the forum members, other build threads and local builders to answer questions and clarify things for me.
I did find that having physical help from others didn’t work real well for me. It’s hard for me to let someone else do something without me knowing exactly what they are doing. I needed to be the one doing. That’s not to say I didn’t welcome anyone who wanted to help. Having an extra set of hands to hold something, get something, take something was very much appreciated. Having extra hands to mount the diff, set the body, install the engine, mount the hood was not only appreciated but was a must.
After the nuts and bolts phase of the build comes things like electrical, upholstery, drop trunk fabrication, locating and fabricating under hood items, brake lines, fuel lines. These were all things that were new to me. I found myself overthinking a lot of it. Afraid I would screw something up. And I did on more than one occasion. I also found out that I could fix my screw-ups. Were there times I got frustrated in my ignorance? You bet! Were there times I had to walk away for a day or two? Yep! But I learned a lot during the build and the more I learned the more confidence I built in myself. For someone like me who has never taken on a project like this, the moment you turn the key for the first time and hear the engine start, when you pull the light switch and see the lights, when you put the car in gear and drive it down the driveway, and when other builders start seeking your advice, it creates an indescribable sense of pride and accomplishment in oneself.
I won’t go into the details of my build, that’s what my build thread is for. What I will say is this has been the best decision of my life.
The build is not complete yet. I have decided to build the car to the point where I can register and drive it for a season before completing it. Bodywork is not done, no paint, interior needs work. My goal all along was to build and drive this car before the cancer took me. We have kept the cancer at bay and on 5/1/23 I have started the registration process. I don’t need paint or carpet to win this race. I can finish those after crossing the upcoming finish line.
Crossing The Finish Line
I ordered my Daytona Coupe and started my build thread on 11/16/2021. I titled it “The Race is On” because I have cancer and the race was to see if I could drive my dream car before the cancer took me.
I received my kit on 6/22/2022. Today marks 350 days. The car is not complete. I still have bodywork/paint/interior work to finish but it is at a point where it is drivable.
I can proudly report that the race is over!! This morning I had the car safety inspected. It passed! I then took all of the paperwork to the nearest DMV and without too much drama was able to get the car registered and plated. It is now street legal!!!!
I put a total of 17 miles on the car before giving in to the rain. I now have a permanent smile on my face that will never go away!!
Took the car to my first car show today with the local cobra club. 300-400 cars there. Lots of people. Car drew a lot of attention. Won top 25!! Totally unexpected. Between the smile I have driving this car along with the smile for winning I don’t think I will ever frown again!!
Special thanks for your father, and all of the FF employees. You guys are what make days like this happen.”