Our Mk4 is more than ready to take us wherever we want to go, whether it’s a Cobra car club cruise, a track day at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, a street rod and muscle car show, or a blast up to California’s Central Coast for Monterey Car Week. That’s precisely the allure of a replica. We can drive it anywhere. If we had restored a 1968 Mustang fastback, built a 1934 Ford roadster hot rod, or renewed a 1954 Jaguar XK120 roadster, we’d be too afraid to drive it for fear that it might get scratched or stolen.
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There are a few more things to finish. They’re vital components to be sure, such as roll bar, fuel cap and filler hose, head- and taillights, turn signals, and several more aluminum panels for both form and function.
We also want to install the Quickjacks that go on the front and the rear of the car, after they are powdercoated. Once that’s done, they bolt right on. We may also install a lockable glove box in the dashboard, but that can wait.
Our build talents have grown considerably since the start of this project. And these skills will not diminish because we’ll continue to improve our FFR Mk4 roadster as time and funds permit. We’ll also build and/ or restore other projects. The three of us are automotive enthusiasts, with more than just a passion for driving fast and going to shows. Somewhere in our Smith lineage there must have been blacksmiths.
Project 1: Roll Bar Installation
Step 1: Install Roll Bar
To help the fit, rub Tri-Flow Teflon lubricant on the ends that go into the frame pipes. Lay a towel under the three roll bar holes to protect the roll bar hoop. Then carefully guide the straight pipe all the way into the angled pipe. Next, place the hoop into its two-pipe receptacles. If your hoop is like ours, it’s a snug fit. To coax ours in, we folded up another towel to cushion several well-intentioned blows on the top of the hoop using a large rubber mallet. You can see how far you need to go by looking at the frame pipe under the fender. Measure the distance you need to go by the hole in the chrome roll bar compared to the hole in the upright frame pipe. Once you get the hoop low enough, place a pick or a small screwdriver through the holes to align the holes, remove the pick, and install the FFR supplied hardware. To tighten the hardware use a 1/2-inch wrench for the locknut and a 3/16- inch hex key for the bolt face. With the hoop installed, screw up the straight pipe to meet the hoop. You may need a little coaxing from a pick or a small screwdriver to get the attachment holes to line up. Be persistent, and you’ll have an installed roll bar that looks as good as ours.
Project 2: Fuel Cap and Fuel Filler Hose Installation
Step 1: Install Fuel Fill Hose, Gas Cap and Parts
If you like instant gratification, you’ll enjoy installing the pop-open quick-fill Le Mans racing fuel cap, fuel filler hose, and ground strap. These fuel system components are easy to put in place, and they look amazing. Use the Le Mans fuel cap rubber gasket, and drill the six fastener holes used for installing the cap if you didn’t do it before the body was painted. Put a couple layers of masking tape on the top of the body to prevent any errors when drilling.
Step 2: Install Fuel Filler Hose
Though the FFR Complete Kit build manual recommends installing the fuel filler hose on the fuel filler pipe that comes out of the fuel tank, you may opt to install the 5-inch shortened fuel filler hose on the Le Mans fuel cap pipe and then drop the fuel cap, cap gasket, and fuel hose assembly down through the hole in the fender. That’s right; carefully cut 5 inches off the end of the supplied fuel filler hose before attaching the shortened hose on the pipe that comes from the bottom of the fuel cap.
Step 3: Align Cap Installation Holes
Use a couple picks through the fuel cap holes, through the fuel cap gasket, and through the holes in the recessed fuel cap area in the passenger-side fender. It helps line up these holes for the Phillips-head screws.
Step 4: Install Phillips-Head Screws
Open the cap to obtain direct access to the screw holes in the base of the cap. Leave a couple picks in the holes while you screw in the Phillips-head screws (the longer machine screw, washer, and locknut are used to install the ground strap). Use the hole in the cap’s base that is located on the right side of the pop-up cap’s upright.
Step 5: Fasten Fuel Hose & Ground Strap
Slide/coax the fuel hose down onto the fuel filler pipe. Tighten the lower hose clamp that is on the fuel hose over the fuel filler pipe. Attach the ground strap to the underside of the fuel cap by using the longer Phillips-head machine screw, washer, and locknut. Drill a 3/16-inch hole in the frame upright on top of the aluminum wall and install the supplied metal screw to affix the other end of the ground strap. Make sure you also use the other supplied washer to form a solid ground.
Project 3: Headlight Installation
Step 1: Inspect Headlight Components
Installing the headlights is challenging because there are small parts and fasteners that need to be properly attached. Take your time to do it right. You need the headlight components, the headlight mounting assembly, and a Phillips-head screwdriver.
Step 2: Push Grommet Into Bucket
Push the electrical wire grommet into the side of the headlight bucket. We had success by getting the groove in place on one side and then coercing the rest of the grommet into the bucket by coaxing the rest of the grommet’s groove around its plastic rim hole.
Step 3: Screw in Adjuster Screws and Install Light Plug Harness
Screw the adjuster screws about halfway into the headlight bucket. Insert the light plug harness wires through the wire grommet that you just installed.
Step 4: Install Mounting Flange
Install a mounting flange (ring) around the headlight. Three small screws go into three small tabs. Affix these three tiny screws with a Phillips-head screwdriver, making sure that the headlight is right side up.
Step 5: Inspect Mounting Flange
If you’ve properly installed your headlight’s mounting flange, it looks like this. The writing on the headlight should be right side up.
Step 6: Install Headlight Gasket
Place the headlight gasket on the backside of the headlight bucket. The adjuster housings should poke through the two larger holes in the gasket.
Step 7: Install Headlight Bucket
Carefully drill four 1/8-inch attachment holes to mount the headlight bucket. Then, use the supplied Phillips-head screws to install the headlight bucket in the front fender.
Step 8: Install Headlight Bucket
With the two upper screws set wider apart than the two lower screws properly installed, the headlight bucket looks like this. The headlight adjuster screws are at the 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock position on the driver’s side and passenger’s side.
Step 9: Plug Light into Connector
Plug the headlight bulb into the connector before installing the bulb into the headlight bucket.
Step 10: Mount Flange
The slot (or groove) in the two-adjuster screws holds the slotted part of the mounting flange. Screwing these two adjuster screws in or out enables the beam of the headlight to be adjusted up, down, right, or left.
Step 11: Install Chrome Ring
To finish the headlights installation, push the spring clip onto the boss near the bottom of the bucket on the right side. Hook the chrome trim ring over the bucket on the top and screw it into the bottom right, just left of the spring clip, using the supplied countersunk screw.
Project 4: Turn Signal Installation
Step 1: File Mounting Holes
In contrast to the headlights, the turn signals are very simple to install. There are washers, locknuts, and two threaded studs on the back of each light. The FFR Mk4 Complete Kit has the openings in the body to accommodate the lights, so all you need to do is lightly file the two mounting holes already drilled into the body with a small round file.
Step 2: Tighten Locknuts
Use a 5/16-inch-deep socket and ratchet to tighten the two locknuts North and South on the turn signals. We left the wiring details to Dennis Clark of Carlsbad Automotive Technology. The front harness contains all the wires necessary. The white, red, and black wires in the harness are wired to the headlights, and the remaining wires in the loom are soldered and insulated to the turn signal wires.
Project 5: Taillight Installation
Step 1: Install Taillights
The four taillight assemblies are installed in a similar manner as the turn signals. There are two threaded mounting studs with washers and locknuts. Widen the mounting holes with a small round file before placing the taillights in the back of the rear fenders.
Step 2: Install Taillights
With the rear wheel/tire removed, sit inside the rear fender and use a 5/16-inch-deep socket, long extensions, and ratchet to tighten the two locknuts on the back of each taillight. Be sure to place a washer on each threaded stud before screwing on the locknut.
Step 3: Inspect Installed Taillights
Our FFR Mk4 Cobra roadster replica’s caboose now looks every bit as sexy as its nose with the taillights installed. We left the wiring details to Dennis Clark of Carlsbad Automotive Technology.
Project 6: License-Plate Light Installation
Step 1: Inspect License-Plate Light Assembly
You’ll remember that the two attachment holes for the rear license-plate light were pre-drilled during bodywork. Another hole was drilled to route the unit’s electrical wires. That plastic template was used to show where the holes should be drilled in the trunk lid.
Step 2: Install License-Plate Light Frame
Before drilling to mount the license-plate frame, which is attached to the license-plate light, mount the license plate in its two attachment holes and route the wires through one hole. Stick on two layers of masking tape. These two layers of tape serve as protection for drilling into the painted trunk lid. Use a marker to indicate on the tape where to drill the rivet holes. Remove the license-plate light. Use a 3/16-inch drill bit to carefully drill the holes for the 3/16-inch rivets. Reinstall the license-plate light with the supplied hardware and attach the license-plate frame using two 3/16-inch rivets and a rivet gun.
Project 7: Side Vent Installation
Step 1: Apply Sharkhide
There are certain iconic items that must be on all Cobras, real or replica. One of these crucial components is the side vents that are used to extract warm air from the engine bay. They install on the sides of the body, not far behind the exhaust headers. First, treat them to a careful covering of Sharkhide protectant.
Step 2: Install Driver-Side Vent
Place a fairly generous amount of silicone on the top edge above the louvers and also on the bottom edge. Temporarily use duct tape on the top edge and on the bottom edge until the silicone has time to set. Stick each side vent on the inside of the front fender at the opening within the body. Be sure the vents face rearward so they funnel the hot air out of the engine bay
Project 8: Miscellaneous Panel Installation
Step 1:Install Final Aluminum Panels
Several more critical aluminum panels need to be SharkHide protected, drilled, silicone, and riveted into place. One is the nosepiece that fits in front of the radiator and supports the bottom of the radiator. There are two side triangle panels that attach via rivets next to the radiator within the nose. There are also a couple patch panels above the fuel tank, which have already been covered front and back with SharkHide protectant.
Project 9: Splashguard Installation
Step 1: Install Driver-Side Front Splashguard
Press on the bulb weatherstrip along the outer edge of the aluminum curvy panel that runs underneath the body. Carefully test-fit the panel and decide whether you need to trim the aluminum. (Our driver-side guard fit perfectly, with the exception of the upper left-hand corner of the panel. We needed to trim a little piece out to make room for the front harness loom.) Use a small clamp at the bottom to temporarily affix the splashguard to the front of the F-panel flange. The FFR-supplied aluminum rivet hole marker tool has holes drilled every 3 inches on one side and every 2 inches on the other side. It’s your choice as to which you use (we opted for 3-inch intervals on the driver’s side and 2-inch intervals on the passenger’s side). Mark, punch, and drill the holes using a 1/8-inch drill bit and electric drill. To hold the panel sufficiently in place while drilling, install several of the small sheet-metal screws (shown).
Step 2: Install Driver-Side Front Splashguard (Continued)
After cutting a notch in the upper left-hand corner of the driver-side splashguard, this panel should install and seal exceptionally well. This notch allows the front harness to travel unencumbered to the front lights and turn signals.
Step 3: Install Driver-Side Front Splashguard (Continued)
When you’ve successfully drilled the splashguard, remove the temporary screws and rivet the panel in its place with 1/8-inch rivets. Remember to use silicone on the back edge of the panel where it rests atop the F-panel’s rear flange. The bottom right tab (on top of the front fender) must be drilled with a 3/16-inch bit from the bottom so that a 3/16-inch rivet can be installed from the bottom of the body through the aluminum tab. You may wish to drill a 1/8-inch pilot hole before drilling the final hole as an additional paint/fiberglass protection step. When drilling this hole through the body panel, put two layers of masking tape on the body to protect the paint job. Go slow and easy with the drill as you penetrate the fiberglass.
Step 4: Install Passenger-Side Rear Splashguard
As with the front splashguards, push on the bulb weatherstrip around the edges. The long, vertical, flat edge is riveted to the frame upright at either 2- or 3-inch intervals with 1/8-inch rivets. Therefore, first mark and drill the holes with a 1/8-inch drill bit. On the driver’s side, we didn’t have to trim the panel at all; verify that you don’t have to trim here either. On the front fender splashguards, you needed to drill through the bottom of the body into the splashguard tab. In the rear, however, just use a 1/8-inch drill bit. You can either use a 1/8-inch rivet or a small machine screw with a locknut. Remember to put silicone between the frame and the splashguard’s vertical edge where it’s riveted to the frame. The flat, bottom-edge surface of the panel has its thickness pointing rearward. You also need to be careful not to pinch the fuel cap’s ground cable with the splashguard. Our ground cable tucked nicely out of the way of the panel. Make sure yours does, too.
Step 5: Install Driver-Side Rear Splashguard (Continued)
The passenger-side rear splashguard required no trimming or modification but the driver-side rear splashguard requires a great deal of trimming and customizing. Here’s how the panel appears with its bulb weatherstrip in place on the curved edge prior to modification. To install the driver-side rear splashguard, you may have to bend down the front flange of the fuel tank. This can be accomplished with a pair of pliers and some brute force. Trim the lower edge of the panel on the left side with tin snips. (We also put a slice of bulb weatherstrip on this trimmed edge, in an effort to tightly seal this modified splashguard all around.) Getting the panel to fit just right may mean you have to trim the radius on the bottom on the right side. Silicone where the panel attaches to the frame and use 1/8- inch rivets to securely install the driver-side rear splashguard.
Project 10: Front Apron Installation
Step 1: Install Front Apron
The front apron is a supporting panel, which adds support for the bottom of the radiator. The FFR Mk4 Complete Kit build manual indicates that this panel can either be installed with rivets or with machine screws and locknuts. We decided to use buttonhead Allen fasteners with neoprene washers on the top side of the nose’s fiberglass body with larger fender-style neoprene washers on the bottom and stainless-steel washers underneath the neoprene washers held tight with a 3/8-inch locknut. Neoprene washers are used against the fiberglass to protect the paint job. The hardware used on the bottom of the radiator is all stainless steel. The advantages of using machine screws and locknuts are twofold: First, the radiator can be easily removed, if necessary. Second, if you use a bunch of rivets, you might wind up cracking the fiberglass with the passage of time.
Step 2: Install Passenger-Side Front Triangle Panel
There are two remaining panels to install, the ones that go on either side of the radiator within the nose of the roadster. Install the bulb weatherstrip and test fit the panel. Mark on the backside of the panel where the 3/4- inch frame rail goes. Once you have these two lines traced on the backside of the panel, remove it from the nose. Mark, punch, and drill these holes in the panel with a 1/8-inch drill bit and your trusty electric or cordless drill. Place the panel, put a protective towel over the radiator, and drill the holes in the aluminum panel through the 3/4-inch frame tube. Take the panel out one last time and apply some silicone. Rivet the panel to the frame and repeat this same process on the driver’s side. No trimming was required on our passenger’s side, but the driver-side triangle required a fair amount of modification.
After final assembly, you need to take the car to a professional alignment shop to get the chassis aligned. Factory Five’s Complete Kit build manual recommends that everyone do that, when the car is fully assembled.
Roger Daniel’s Alignment & Brake shop in Santee, California, aligned the chassis while the body and body panels were being painted. So, our car should be ready to go for a little jaunt on the boulevards. The alignment shop said that we should bring the roadster back for some finetuning after we’ve put some shakedown miles on it.
Written by D. Brian Smith and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks