Back in 2020 while sitting watching the television and observing the pandemic events unfold all over the world, I glanced up at the picture hanging on my wall of the car that I wanted to build for such a long time. This car was something that I’d only ever dreamed of building. I was looking at a picture of the 1965 Peter Brooke Daytona Coupe. The car that was specifically designed and built to take on Ferrari at Le Mans.
The original project only had about six Daytona Coupe cars and being a huge fan of Carroll Shelby the Daytona has always been on the top of my build list. I have always had the utmost admiration for the design and engineering of the car that would eventually have such a significant role in the Carroll Shelby story. Therefore, I turned off the television and with laptop on my knee, I thought that it was about time I turned this dream into reality as I needed a new project to keep me occupied through the uncertain pandemic times that were impacting us all.
After many weeks of thorough research, I decided to opt for an American supplier ‘FF Racing’ based in Massachusetts, USA. I emailed their sales team, who then sent me a brochure and DVD regarding their products. After reading and watching their media they had me hooked. The quality of the kit was far better than any other alternatives that had I researched, so by July 2020 the order for my Daytona Type 65 Coupe had been placed and the waiting game began.
As you can imagine I was extremely keen to start this project as I have just completed my AK Cobra build and this was the perfect way to continue that ‘car build momentum’.
The months ticked by towards Christmas with the whole country into another lockdown and I still hadn’t received my car. I wasn’t overly concerned as I appreciated that the whole pandemic was having a knock-on effect on every industry imaginable, including motor manufacture and shipping. The shipping delay was due to overcrowding at the US ports and not getting the docks cleared for new arriving shipments. My car was crated up and sat on a warehouse floor in New York City ready to be shipped. It was not until the new year (almost 7 months since I ordered the car) that I was finally able to track the crate and see its shipping progress across the Atlantic. It started to become real when I was sent images of the crate waiting to be loaded onto the ship, however it also hit me that the crate was rather on the large side – 16’ x 8’ x 4’ to be precise and thoughts moved to how I was ever going to fit this into my unit?
We finally got notification that the car was on the water and was expected mid-April. On 30 April the courier delivered the eagerly awaited car to us.
My first impression indeed was ‘that’s a big crate!’ I was very relieved that it fitted into the unit. I must say that FF certainly did a great job in packaging of the full kit and parts, all safely stored in the one crate. A benefit of having such a delayed shipment, was that the car arrived just before a long holiday weekend which would gave me time to unpack it properly. Therefore, on 30 April, with crowbar and hammer in hand, the unboxing of the car began.
As we took the lid off the crate, we had to be extra careful as FF had fitted the rear and front windscreens into the actual fiberglass body. As we removed each panel the red shell of the Daytona began to emerge. I couldn’t believe that it was here and really wanted to get going with it. After a few hours unpacking lots of boxes, we then had the anxious task of checking all the parts against the contents list. It took a good few hours to do but we were happy that 95% of the kit had arrived intact with just a few parts on back order (we were made aware of this prior to shipment).
Once all was unpacked, it was time to move the chassis to my home workshop. The actual body and other parts are being kept in my storage unit. It took a few helping hands to lift the body from the chassis, but we managed to get it onto a trailer for it’s short journey to my home.
The build begins and right hand drive conversion commences
Once I had the chassis at home, mounted on my build frame and with the instruction manual in hand it was time to get my thinking cap on with regards to how I was going to make this into a right-hand drive motor vehicle.
After receiving a price from FF Racing to provide the right-hand drive conversion at 2500USD, I decided to take the task on board myself. We purchased a non-powder coated chassis to allow me to carry out the adjustments/welding and to give me the scope to select a colour other than the general black powder coat that was offered as part of the package.
So out came to steel ruler & straight edge and after taking measurements from the left-hand side of the frame it became apparent that the task was not going to be as straightforward as I originally thought.
It would require alterations to be done to the framework and drivers foot box, along with the aluminum panel cladding in the engine bay. This in turn created further clearance issues with the stainless-steel tubular exhaust headers, however this was something that could be rectified later in the build.
It is at this point that I decided to use my LS3 mock-up engine to give me an idea of where things are going to be placed. Once the engine was in place, I was then able to start the necessary fabrication.
After taking measurements from the Wildwood pedal box, I began to fabricate the mounting brackets to which the pedal box would need to be bolted to.
Once happy with the position of the pedal box, it was then time to carry out the alterations to the foot-box allowing clearance for the exhaust headers and carry out the alterations to the aluminum paneling.
I was not overly impressed with the way FF had the steering column set up. It basically comprised of a pillow block mounting, steering shaft and a swivel bearing, situated in the front of the foot-box to where the first universal joint is located. It became apparent that they do not use control stalks on the steering column (lights/wipers/indicators etc.) as the car is specifically designed around being a track car.
With all this in mind, I decided to go down the route of fitting a BMW steering column as I have used in my recent AK Cobra build. This ensured I could have stalks at my fingertips, rather than having buttons and rocker switches located on the dashboard.
More issues needed resolving due to the kit being supplied with no steering rack and I was back to the drawing board to get my suspension geometry head into gear. After searching the internet and many phone calls later, it is again a BMW steering rack that was the answer to solving this issue. Checking the BMW rack I had already fitted to the AK Cobra, I found by chance that this has got the same pivot point centres as the Mustang ll rack used by FF Racing, however just not in the right-hand drive configuration.
After applying string lines for alignment and with a few subtle height adjustments, it all fitted nicely into place hopefully resulting in a zero bump steer set up.
That will do for now, Part 2 of the Build Diary will be coming soon…
This article was written for Snake Torque Magazine Issue 144, produced by the UK Cobra Club.