Lawson's 818C

Here’s my advice pertaining to the Factory Five Racing 818S, 818C, and 818R. Everything from purchasing the kit, building the kit, to getting it on the road.

Categories of 818 Advice

Most frequent questions and answers, tips, tricks, and more
  • Subaru WRX Price Advice- If you’re on a time constraint or a strict budget, don’t go for a cheap donor. I paid $2300 for mine, but the costs of that is a full rebuild of the engine, wiring issues, a new turbo, etc. I think a decent price for a donor is around the $5000 area so you can get one that is mechanically sound.
  • Engine Rebuild- A mistake I made while buying all my rebuild parts was buying the bearings and pistons too early. Wait to buy any size-dependent items such as pistons and bearings until you confirm what the machining needs of the engine parts are.
  • Which model/year Subaru WRX should I get for a Factory Five 818?- Truly, as far as the 818 is concerned it does not matter what WRX model or year you get. Personally, I think the more important thing to consider is getting the best condition unmodified car you can find and don’t really care if it’s a sedan/wagon, a 2003, or a 2007. 2005-2007 did get an upgraded transmission, new engine, improved front lower control arms, and better brakes. However, in the context of the 818 most of this stuff has less of an effect on the build than getting a car in good condition.
  • Drill bits- Buy a billion cheap Harbor Freight 1/8 and 3/16 drill bits. You will use all of them. Also have one good set of the whole range of normal drill bits for the occasional other uses.
  • Undercoating for aluminum panels- 3M Rubberized undercoating or similar. Looks nice and should help with noise from rocks.
  • Suspension components- Use Corroseal rust reverse product after wire-wheeling. Then coat parts with bedliner (matches the rough rust texture below). I used this process for the very rusty spindles and trailing arms. For less rusty parts simply clean/prep and paint with black automotive gloss paint.
  • Get a Harbor Freight hydraulic press for wheel bearings. It pays for itself just using it this one time.
  • Pipe Trick for Axle CV- Google this for a video. It’s WAY better than the FFR hammer/vice method. I got my front outer CVs off in one whack with the axle inside a pipe.
  • “Wayne’s Cooling Mod” – This mod is to drill and tap an NPT fitting into the coolant outlet pipe on the top of the passenger side of the engine. This line is then run into the port on the expansion tank that used to be connected to the top of the radiator. This allows the highest point of the coolant system to self-bleed the air out as intended. I never ran the engine without it, but I can certainly say it doesn’t hurt and most have said it made a big difference.
    • Link to a thread PDF including this is lower down on the page.
  • Vintage Air Mini Gen II- I installed this system using the write-up from forum user AZPete. His write up is saved lower on this page. Differences from what he did vs what I did is that my newer Mini unit does not use vacuum actuators but instead servos. I also used a vintage air H fitting to serve as the coolant bypass. If you go through my blog (I actually have a tag for A/C if you want to sort by that) or build page I have lots of pictures of what I did for the A/C system.
  • List of Parts I Used – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Uu-7–15MmB-cd6mAte-IGPEkn4wirOn
    • You will also need to add the H-fitting to this list
  • Fiberglass tools- I had no idea how to do any fiberglass work before doing this kit so here’s a few basics supplies I’ve needed.
    • Dremel/rotary tool- There are many many kinds of these. Corded, battery, and air powered. You will want a selection of sanding bits, cutting wheels, metal carving bits, and maybe a grinding bit. This will be your friend for lots of the body panel fitment.
    • Air saber saw- This functions very similarly to a jig saw, but I found it much much easier to cut intricate shapes and corners with this. Honestly made cutting the fiberglass an piece of cake and it worked fine on my relatively small compressor. I paid like $40 on Amazon for an Astro one.
    • Sandpaper- Lots of wet/dry sandpaper ranging from 300 grit to 2500 grit.
  • Factory Five gelcoat repair kit- Honestly FFR should just ship this with the kit, you will need it. Has a can of gelcoat and a can of gelpaste which are used to fill cracks, voids, gaps, and scratches. I believe it was about $70.
  • Undercoating fiberglass panels- I used 3M rubberized undercoating and a section of Walmart yoga mat to coat the underside of my front fenders. This was intended to help protect them from rock damage and also reduces road sound. I think the undercoating really helps make the fiberglass look finished and while I have not done it to all the panels I think it is a really good idea to do so if the appearance of your kit is worth the extra 10 pounds you may add to it by doing so.
  • Coupe Components- FFR did not do a very thorough job creating the manual for the coupe components. Things such as the top, rear hatch, power windows, generally only have half baked instructions and sometimes none at all.
    • Rear hatch strut supports – See the linked thread pdf below on this page.
    • Window cutouts- FFR just says to “cut the window slot” which helps…a lot. Forum user AZPete gives some good tips in the “Hard Top Install tips” PDF I saved below. I’d add that it’s easiest to do the marking with the door on the car, and that you can also put on the inner door panel and use the aluminum window trim piece they provide to help you template it as well.
  • Power Door Locks- Especially for coupe builders, power door locks are a nice feature and they’re an extremely low-hanging fruit to add to your 818. The power lock actuators will already be installed anyways! All you have to do is buy a generic keyless entry system on Amazon/Ebay (mine was $20) and you have to run two wires to each door lock actuator. That’s it. Save a portion of the factory wiring for the door actuators because the plug is built into their housing so it’s nice to reuse that.
  • Insulation – For insulation I used Kilmat product to line the firewall, roof, and inside of the doors. Cheaper than dynamat but basically the same stuff.

Useful Links and Files

These are ideas/how-to’s from other builders that I thought were great and wanted to preserve in PDF format. Hopefully all of these are still accessible on the main forum for the 818, www.thefactoryfiveforum.com, but if not feel free to download them here.

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