Linda Dillon has had the privilege of watching her five sons grow up immersed in the world of building, crafting everything from go-carts to lawnmowers and various machines. Their shared passion for engineering and automotive craftsmanship continued into adulthood, as they began assembling and customizing an impressive collection of cars. Among their most prized possessions are three Factory Five kit cars, each with a unique story.
“Our journey into the world of kit cars commenced in 1998 when one of my sons, Tim, took a trip to Massachusetts to acquire our family’s very first Factory Five kit car. After a year of dedication, a royal blue Factory Five Roadster with elegant white Shelby stripes emerged. The car boasted impressive performance, reaching speeds of up to 115 miles per hour in 10.7 seconds in a quarter-mile. Tim’s car featured a 331 Stroker engine with a Centrifugal Supercharger, 373 gears, an AOD automatic transmission, and a 3500 stall torque converter. He took pride in driving this car daily, racking up over 100,000 miles since its debut on the road. Tim’s passion and expertise eventually influenced his brothers to embark on their own Factory Five kit car projects.
The second Factory Five kit car held a special place in our hearts as it was a tribute to our beloved son, Ben. Ben had successfully completed Army Ranger training, earning the coveted Ranger Tab and Scroll in 2005. During his service, he had owned a couple of Mustangs, one of which was a 1989 model. Tragically, his beloved car was stolen and wrecked while he was deployed. Our family made a heartfelt journey from Ohio to Georgia to retrieve the wreck and placed it behind our barn.
On October 6, 2007, Ben was on his fourth deployment in Iraq when he made the ultimate sacrifice. He heroically intercepted a car bomb intended for his detachment of fellow soldiers returning from a successful mission, earning him the Bronze Star with valor. In Ben’s memory, my sons Tim and Terry decided to utilize his 1989 Mustang, equipped with a 302 engine, as the donor car for Terry’s Factory Five MK3 Roadster in 2008. Building this car was a labor of love undertaken by Ben’s brothers and father, and it became a symbol of honoring his memory.
Ben’s MK3 kit arrived in numerous boxes on December 7, 2008. Countless hours, evenings, and weekends were dedicated to its assembly over the course of a year and a half. The 302 engine was upgraded with a Kenne Bell Twin Screw Supercharger running at 8 psi, a 355 rear end, EDL Single Cylinder heads, and FMS-M-6250-F303 Hydraulic Roller Camshaft. To enhance performance further, a 3000 Stall Precision Torque Converter and an AOD automatic transmission were installed, providing extra power. On August 26, 2010, BigShot Dyno made the final tweaks, boosting the car’s maximum power to 278 and torque to 345. Finally, Ben’s older brother, Bill, lent his artistic touch by painting the car in Shelby GT500 Torch Red in April 2012, and air-brushing images on the hood, door, and trunk lid serving as a poignant tribute to Ben’s memory.
The third car, painted in a striking Prowler Red with white Shelby stripes, belonged to the eldest brother, Denny. In 2022, Denny purchased an unassembled Factory Five 1965 Type 65 Coupe kit car, using the last car driven by Ben—a 2004 Mustang GT—sitting behind the barn as the donor. Ben’s memory was woven into the fabric of this car, with seats from his Mustang and a meticulously powder-coated exhaust system. The 302 engine received additional enhancements, including a new cam, cylinder heads, a Dominator carburetor, a Tremec 5-speed transmission, 373 posi-traction independent rear end gears, air conditioning, power steering, and Hydro boost assist brakes. The result was a powerful and visually stunning tribute to Ben.
These three Factory Five kit cars not only symbolize our family’s love for cars but also serve as moving tributes to our beloved son and brother, Ben. Whenever these cars cruise through town, they attract attention and spark conversations about the Factory Five kit cars and, more importantly, Ben’s enduring memory. Our family proudly displays these Factory Fives at car shows, Memorial Day Parades, and veteran parades, ensuring that Ben’s sacrifice for our freedom is never forgotten. In the Dillon family, Ben’s name and legacy will live on, a testament to his heroism and the enduring bond of family.”
Submitted By: Gold Star Mother Linda Dillon