There were five elements present at the annual Factory Five Cruise-in in Huntington Beach, California, this past April 25th. There were cool cars, there was music, dancing, family, and did we mention cool cars? It was a party in the closed off streets just off of the Huntington Beach Pier with several dozen Factory Five kit cars lined up and down Main Street and every side street.
Factory Five began 20 years ago in Huntington Beach, but the company moved to their current location in New England many years ago. Realizing the strong roots that were planted in California, company president Dave Smith brings the company back to Huntington Beach each year for the past 8 years to have a party on Main Street.
Bringing employees, cars, parts, and family on the trek across the country, it’s the party in the streets that brings the Factory Five family together – friends that haven’t seen each other since last year, and new friends that share in their passion for the dream car that they either built or bought. While Factory Five can provide customers with a turn-key car, it’s the dream of building their own custom car that has helped this company to become such a success.
Factory Five offers several platforms to build on, from the famous Mk4 Roadster that most know as the Shelby Cobra kit car, to the uber exotic-looking GTM, or the ’33 hot rod that becomes the platform for a wicked street rod that customers can also build right at home in their own garage. We’ve seen some interesting incarnations over the past couple of years – from blown street rods to all-electric examples built on the newest offering: the 818 S&R.
No matter how you slice it, there’s a little bit of something for just about everyone, with powerplants that we saw in Ford Mustangs in the 1980s or SBC crate motors that have been punched and stroked for power. With the popularity of the LS engines in the past few years, we almost expect to see a couple dozen LS engines in the various vehicles on display. And now with the Coyote crate motor being offered, you can bet that it has made its way into a couple of the offerings from Factory Five as well.
This year was even more special to us at Power Automedia because we got to bring our own “under construction” Factory Five Mk4 Challenge car to the cruise-in and show off the ultra fast progress that has been made in the past couple of weeks. Each year, the work in progress vehicles are on display, trailered in to share with the ‘just beginning’ and the ‘fully completed’ entries, and they get just as much attention as the rest of the vehicles.
Our vehicle began like anyone elses, with an order being placed and the kit being constructed at the Factory Five warehouse in Wareham, Massachussettes. Most of these cars begin their life looking pretty much the same, and then when they are delivered to their new home the transformation begins immediately and just about every car is completely different from the next.
Dancing In The Streets
Each year the crowd is kept entertained with live music, and The Nomads Surf Band performed all day to keep the crowd on their feet. Towards the afternoon, a little dancing in the streets broke out while the line continued to flow opposite the band as people collected posters signed by legendary Shelby Cobra racer Allen Grant and designer Pete Brock. From the Five Woman Team that built a FFR Roadster in just three days last year, Jo Coddington was also on hand to sign autographs.
The crew at Factory Five is always there to work hard and bring this show to the streets of Southern California, and they never fail to keep everyone entertained – whether it’s Dave Smith out greeting car owners and enthusiasts or some of the volunteers who give up their time to make sure the event flows smoothly.
Each year the streets that are blocked off for the show fill up with cars and people, and the open-to-the-public event has more than just a crowd of traffic strolling by. People stop and ask all sorts of questions either to staff or car owners: “What engine is that?”, “Where did you get the idea for those wheels?”, or “How fast have you had this thing?”
As we strolled up the streets, watched some dancing, listened to some music, and sat down for a meal, it was time to make some decisions for us. This year we picked five vehicles that were our favorites from each category, and you can find them here. For some cars it was rather simple to pick a favorite, and for others the decision required a second or third pass through the streets to make a decision.
Weekend Wrap Up
To say that the vehicles above were our favorites, by no means, means that they were the best in the show or that they should be at the top of everyone’s list. They were at the top of ours because they simply made us stop and want to find out a little bit more, and we spent a little more time enjoying them. The whole event brought us plenty of cars that we could enjoy, get some ideas off of, and share with others what we liked about them.
The 8th Annual Huntington Beach Cruise-In was, again, a success and it wouldn’t have been so without all of the hard work and dedication from both employees and volunteers who stepped up and gave up their Saturday to make sure that the thousands of people walking Main Street could get a small taste of the passion and enthusiasm that each car owner and builder was willing to share with us.
The weather was a little bit overcast this year, and towards the end of the day Mother Nature opened up a little and we saw a little bit of rain. But nothing could put a damper on the show more than the end of it did, because it’s always great to see a group of gearheads who love their machines and are willing to drive them at great lengths to be there.
So until next year we’ll have to get busy and finish our own project and bring you all of the latest updates. You can be sure we’ll be there with our finished Challenge Car so you can see it in person. If you didn’t get a chance to enjoy the show this year, you have an entire year to make plans to visit Factory Five at the 9th Annual Huntington Beach Cruise-In – you won’t regret it! For now, enjoy the huge gallery of all the vehicles below.