RCR Visit - Searching for a new GT40

Ron Earp

I recently was able to visit Fran's shop and have a look at his RCR cars. To be honest, due to me having a deposit on a RF car that was "on the way" I'd never really paid attention to Fran's cars that much. Wasn't that I didn't think I'd like them, but there wasn't much point - he came online after I'd made my choice so I casually looked at RCR posts with passing interest. However, I had established an email and phone relationship with Fran and I enjoyed my interactions with him, so to that end I'd always entertained a visit with him just to put a face with a name.

But, now since I might be looking for a new GT40, and could get in Fran's area easily on business excuses, I made the visit and am extremely glad I did.

One of the things I've always been weary of with GT40 chassis construction is a mono design. Maybe weary isn't the right word, but I like things to be simple in life and space frames are simple from the standpoint that I can visualize how to repair them fairly easily and know lots of race shops in my area that can do that. I can even do simple repairs myself if needed.

Right now I'm working with a situation that my racing partner and I might have to write off our beloved 260z race car, which has a lot of money invested in it, because the right side wheel base in 7/8" shorter than the left. It took a moderate hit last April at Roebling and the chassis is bent resulting in tracking issues on the rear that is hard to sort. Bad thrust angle and all of that. The pan is wrinkled and while the cage is intact and held everything nicely in place there, the rest of the car relative to the cage is bent and distorted. And, if not fixable, which it might not be, we lose an expensive caged chassis. Clearly, I was also worried about the same thing in a GT40 mono chassis, where a tube frame can be fixed relatively easily, the mono cannot in most cases.

However, looking at Fran's mono chassis I'm not that concerned about it. The chassis is constructed from laser cut aluminum panels that are of various thicknesses, with the floor pan and other pieces being 1/8" at least. It appears to be incredibly strong and I'm certain much stronger than the originals, although I think a tube frame chassis can be just as good too. I'd like to see some data on some comparisons. Anyhow, to use a comment one of the others there made upon viewing and picking apart the chassis - this RCR chassis takes the GT40 (and other self built cars) chassis to the next level. And after seeing a lot of GT40 chassis designs, I concur with the statement. It is that good and the next step in evolution of chassis design.

Some have expressed concern for an aluminum chassis due to stress cracks, but I don't share that concern. The plane I regularly fly is 30 years old and it is doing just fine, despite training literally 100s of pilots to fly and deal with some harsh treatment there (and as long as the AD is monitored with the tails that fall off!). The aluminum mono is light, which is important to me, and it is not brittle while resisting deep corrosion without coating. I think with the arms the chassis weighs right at 300lbs - pretty light. Makes me ashamed to be thinking of putting my iron block in one actually.

What this chassis does for the construction of a GT40 is phenomenal - it'd be dirt simple to build one of these cars. I think I could have one plumbed, lined, and ready for action in an afternoon, swear. Less if I don't drink beer. I've done a tube frame chassis with all the paneling, line running, etc. and this thing would be a very simple car to get into "running" order. Not only that, the way all the pieces like the suspension mounts, hinge points, etc. are precision mounted because of the laser cut hole location system of the panels - it doesn't depend on where the welder places the bolt ears on a particular day is they are 1/16th off etc. - it has positive location and will be accurate. It is very nice.

All the panels are welded together and the welds look perfect on the three chassis I viewed. RCR has milled suspension arms that preserve the original GT40 geometry (good or bad, your call) exactly, although the arms are ambidextrous and have a clever pin system that allows them to be used on each side of the car. These are designed to sheer at various points to provide protection in an accident and thus helping out to keep the chassis intact as well.

The motor mounts are ingenious because they are two pieces and depending on how the pieces are assembled they accommodate many different motors and locations. Custom steering racks and pedal box designs too, very neat stuff.

The body that RCR has is very good. I always thought the RF bodies were pretty good for self assembled cars, but these are even better. They have a more correct shape (flat on front clip, rear clip) and have all the duct work molded into the rear unlike most of the GT40 replica bodies. The glasswork is very good and I feel that concerns over chopper gunned bodies is not warranted. As long as they are laid up with proper mixtures, as these are, they work great. Might be a bit heavier than a hand laid body, but they are very strong. Anyway, the bodies are really good, little in the way of part lines, and best of all line up better than any bodies I've seen. No doors longer than the other, no clips needing attention, no doors that don't fit, and it has a very correct GT40 shape. His moulds are right and are producing very accurate GT40 bodies.

RCR's P4 and Lola bodies are similar and with the colored gel coats you could clean off part lines, buff it, and hit the road. Yes, it'd never look like a paint job and not saying it would, but for my Lola track car with, I hate to say it, a Chevy engine, I'll be just fine with cutting some lines and motoring off whilst skipping all that nasty prep and paint stuff. My problem is that while I want a GT40, I could see me building a Lola track car in short order and having a ball with it.

Fran does not yet have anything like a Deluxe kit that some companies have/had. He is working on it though, so those that want everything with their car will be able to get that at some point. RCR builder can easily come together and create parts lists too for those that are not after complete kits, so I could see that the process could be made easier with customer support. Once he works out wiring looms (Painless would be a simple solution) etc. he can offer a very complete kit if he likes, but, given the quality of the kit he provides you are already saving a huge amount of time with no panels to fit, body that is very good, etc.

To you guys that have already got an RCR car you made a good choice. I didn't know how good until I had a look myself, but now I do. In short, I am very impressed and glad that I went. I still have some more cars to have a look at before I decide on what sort of GT40 to pursue next, but this is going to be hard to beat I think. Really hard, and it has a nice advantage of being on my home turf. With every disaster comes opportunity, and, well, my opportunity is to get out there and have a look at the current GT40 market and get on with the dream. I'm not getting any younger and not stopping on owning a GT40 for myself.

Great Post Ron.

Did you get a feel for how many cars has Fran delivered in the last year since he announced Gt40s? Has one been completed and on the road yet?


Gulf GT40
Lifetime Supporter
Ron -

Many of the topics you hit are the reason I went with Fran and RCR. One important one was that it was here in the USA. While I did not rule out others, I think it was a added bonus to what Fran was puting together. In addition, since Fran is relentless with the engineering of the chassis and other bits, they all have been improved since the original RCR-40 was offered.

As I have said before, it was not his smooth accent that sold me, but rather good answers to the many questions that I had, and guidence in getting really what I need going.


John B

Temp Selling Pass
My thoughts exactly. Fran should Give you a huge discount for your thread:)

A brilliant description of newly manufactured product that has yet to be proven. I have driven many cars that appear to be well designed by all aspects. However, the driving characteristics simply don't compliment the thought and engineering that went into the product.

I dont' doubt that fran's is delivering a nicely constructed car. However, Ron you were once a strong advocate of the RF and now RCR is suddenly a higher quility car. I don't want new buyers to base their buying choice on one persons very "RAAH RAAH" description which may be slightly motivated by dissapointment from the "OTHER Manufacturers" failure.

Your opion I'm sure is right on the money with RCR's quality and workmanship. But Please reframe comparison from a now FAILED companies product. In the past I made the mistake of degrading the mono "BEER CAN Design". With further reserch and the upgrade in building tech. Both Mono and Space Frame are nice product.

I compliment Fran and with his hard efforts with the development of the GT40. So far there has been nothing but positive feedback regarding the quality and professionalism with his company.. I too am very impressed. But lets see how the car performs when it is finished. The opinions are greatly appreciated and very informative. Let's leave it at that. If I start saying Rf is superior than company A.._B..C like in the past it provolks hard feelings. Remember The other Failed Company was fantasitic and you were completly satisfied by the progress right up to they wen't under.

I want the prospective buyer to be fully aware of what they are getting into regardless if they can go there and touch and see the car locally. One day open...next day "CLOSED"

This is a my thought... I don't want to start debate.. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif

Regards OLIVER

Ron Earp


The RF is still a good car. The car would meet any expectations I had of a good GT40 for sure. There were a few things I would need to change on the RF car, mainly some suspension pieces (fully threaded heim joints, springs/rate/shocks) for my inteded purpose, as well as transmission mounts, but I think that has been discussed before.

In short - I like the RF car just fine, I simply can't get an RF car now. So, I need to look at other cars. The RCR car was better than my expectations which is simply what I am relaying to you on this thread - no more or no less. I did not, as you say, indicate the RCR is a superior car now - I've not driven one - just saying Fran has a nice chassis and a lot of top notch pieces it appears to me.

The only thing I said was "better" on the RCR is the body. RCR has a better body shape which is slightly more correct, in my opinion, and a better fit than SOME RF cars. My RF car body fit pretty good, but a couple others I have seen did not fit as well and needed more work. Still, the RF shape is/was pleasing to me and I'd be happy to have it. And bear in mind I'm speaking of kits and have seen quote a few RF body kits, once all the work is done the beauty will depend upon fit and finish and I'm sure both will be about the same depending on what shape you like.

I've still got other cars to look at too, as I mentioned, and I might be completely wowed by them since I've not been looking as much as I should at cars due to expecting to have one in short order. But, I think RCR has a good value for sure, for the kit builders, and it'd be an easier car to build than the tube frame kits on the market. I've not seen a CAV kit, but maybe I will and find it to be similar to RCR with quality, build ease, etc., ditto ERA.

Please don't take the post as some sort of advertisment or RF bashing - it is not. I numberof folks knew I was visiting RCR and wanted a report, so, I figured an honest and straight opinion could be provided here instead of me sending emails. For the deal story talk to the people who own the cars and are building them, maybe they can chime in and tell their experiences, good or bad, because that is what this section of the forum is about.

Dave, as for how many have been delivered maybe Fran can help. I think a lot of the owners post on this forum but none are driving yet. Now, if Fran wants to send me one I'll build it and drive it and there will be at least one on the road! I've a motor and transaxle that need a home.
Hi Ron,

I spent a good amount of time talking with Fran tonight. He took the time and answered all my questions no matter how difficult or simple they where. He stated he had sold 23 cars and delivered about 6 since may last year.

Fran forgive me if I got the numbers wrong from our conversation but i think this is "near as".

He states a 16 week lead time to delivery which he has been accurate in hitting to date.

I look forward to hearing a report from the first car finished.
Now you chaps see why i wanted to supply Fran with all my knowledge/information and body shell, screen, etc, etc for the 917 production. With all his contacts and desire for quality he is the only person i would trust with this production. Fran will do what it says on the can !!!!!!

Graham @ GTA/Gulf Oil UK Racing.
Thank you guys for you kind and constructive words.

Oliver thanks for your opinion .....
RF has TEN completed driving cars in the USA after 6 years in the market place I hope RCR can have many more cars driving in much less time...
also I have to say that with any car from any manufacturer(road or track),the way the car drives is completely dependent upon how the chassis and suspension are set up....and its all relative to how an individual wants or needs it to handle.....there are no benchmark rules and criteria as to what is right or wrong....just like building any race car really .... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif
Dave ,
actually ten kits delivered as of today and that will be twelve by next Monday..

I think Ron McCall will be the first to have a driving car as he is smoking through his build and doing a great job of it as is BillD .
Both of these guys took delivery of their kits in January 2006.

John B

Temp Selling Pass
Fran I have to say,...I like your style of communication to the customer..It goe's miles to
people that drop thousands to fullfill there dreams.



Lifetime Supporter
First of all, Ron, I truely hope you and the others affected achieve resolution. I feel for you all, especially since I was nearly in the same boat. I too had SIGNIFICANT money deposited on an RF. I bailed out last fall, when multiple deadlines were missed and thought I smelled something foul in the air. Timing is everything, this time I just lucked out. If I was only so lucky in the stock market back in 00' :-(

Also last fall I found Fran. Little did I know he lived within an hour drive from me. I went and visited him multiple times before actually putting money on the table. I critiqued every aspect of his car and challenged many of his decisions just to learn his logic for his engineering decisions. After my second visit, I asked if I could bring a buddy of mine (Rob) who is a highly respected chassis engineer with Ford. Rob has been mentioned in multiple mag articles for his efforts on the Bullit, Mach I and Cobra Mustangs. Fran welcomed the "challenge". The following week Rob (the other guy) and I showed up, and again Fran was drilled. He took it all in stride and had good logical arguments to all the questions. By the end of the visit Rob (the other one) just stood there staring. I could tell his gears were turning.... I knew what he was thinking... "how the hell can I get one of these in my garage". He and I both agreed, the project was well thought out and well executed in many many aspects. It was after that visit that I made the decision to purchase. BTW: Rob is still trying to figure out how the hell to get one in his garage!

Ron, I agree whole hartedly about your commnents for build time. Every time I'm at Fran's shop I say the same thing to him.... " Fran, I feel like I'm missing something...this just looks too easy". Every time, the car is built in my head before I leave the shop. I just keep thinking of the countless hours drilling, glueing and riveting that will no longer be. I am very eager to get started on mine and see just how accurate my assessment was. Almost ready to do so. Should be starting by first week of April. Current project, 67 stang restoration nearly complete.

Oliver, what you say has validity. Yes, there are no cars on the road/track. I debated over this for a while and expressed this concern to Fran. But, I ultimately decided that there was no aspect of the car that I would have designed differently. And, I do agree with Fran's comments...that the performance is highly dependant on the skills of the person setting up the suspension. (Actually Fran, those words sound kinda familiar to me... :)

I plan on tracking the car as soon as it is ready, and will be more than happy to share my impression. I am hopeful that I will be as impressed afterwards.

I am very excited about the project and could keep going, but believe I have "shared" enough.

In closing, a big thanks for Fran for living his dream and enables other gear heads to live theirs. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif

Pete McCluskey.

Lifetime Supporter
Ron, the really good thing about your post is that you seem to have put the disappointment of the RF experience behind you and are now actively checking out other options.
Good on ya. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif

John B

Temp Selling Pass

Fran's the man!

I'm sure fran is gloating with all the poitive attention. The pressure is on. It will be totally
exciting to read all the input from all the customers. The real test will be at Run and Gun and other event's that will put the car through the paces and heavily scrutinized.

I hope one RCR car will be at the event this Year! It would be even better if the event was held at Road America were we can really get can see some speed 150MPH+..



Lifetime Supporter
yea.. we need to make sure his head doesn't get big Eh.....

Agreed, the proof will be in the puddin.
Boys boys...ego's are checked at the door....
if we go to Run and Gun we will have a 700hp engine and a Pro driver with slicks and a carbon wing and diffuser and a massive tyre budget from Bridgestone......only joking......
I really dont think I will have time to do Run and Grin this year due to workload....but rest assured an apples to apples test will be very enlightening...
My background is in data acq/testing and with like for like engines and race cars at the same track on the same day with the same driver same tyres same gear ratios etc etc etc etc as that is the only way a truly objective result can be reached...... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
I am glad that you finally looked for US Built Replica. I have not seen the RCR 40 and from the description on their website it looks good and the price is not low. But you made some comments about the aluminum tub that are not correct and not complete. I would not get on a airplane that is 30 years old without a major frame check.

1. Aluminum is lighter than steel but it is more brittle
2. Aluminum is more difficult weld and costly to fix
3. Aluminum is more rigid and does not absorb shock and stress as well as steel
4 Aluminum must be thicker than steel to be as strong. In torsion Steel has 3X at only 2X in weight
5 Steel is a stronger material, yields to stress, making it less brittle Aluminum

Enclose are two quotes one from Fran Hall of RCR and Bob Putnam of ERA


I got 8300lb/ft/deg as a base unit without any of my bolt on extras..such as billet mounts and braces ,roll cage, rear shear plate which are standard parts on a completed roller/car or the new aluminum inner and outer roof section that we are currently working on.... ..so when we rerun the test with all of the options and a full roll cage
I will have my definative results and I will post the official paperwork ..!!!

FRAN HALL replica manufacturer.....
RCR-40..Mk1,Mk2 & Mk4
RCR-70 Mk3b
917 coming in '06

Kalun failed to scroll down to my correction in the previous thread. I'll forgive him this time.

Me: "Greg's right and "My bad"... Just goes to show you that my memory isn't what it used to be - and it wasn't too good to begin with.

12,500 lbft/deg=17,000Nm/deg

The ERA should be the same."

Ron Earp

I would not get on a airplane that is 30 years old without a major frame check.

[/ QUOTE ]

I don't think I said anything about the tub that was grossly incorrect. And, plenty of aircraft are flying about that are 60+ years old and made of aluminum. Generally, airframe checks are part of annuals depending on the craft, and, I bet a Ben Franklin you've been on a plane that is 30 years old. Fly much commerically or ever been on a 727? Good chance you've been on a 30 year old plane. Heck, I plan to fly a 56 year old plane in two weeks and look foward to it! One of these nifty jobs:


Again, not starting a brawl or discussion of X vs. Y but this thread wasn't about a comparison however you seem to want to draw it that way. I think I got sucked into one of these threads a few months ago and it involved ERA and you on the same thread, thus, I'll withdraw from it again. I think I learned my lesson last time not to post impressions or opinions of GT40s on this forum but I must have forgotten.



Lifetime Supporter
Better yet.... why don't we just ask those that don't play nice to take their ball and go home. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I thought your post was an objective overview of a visit to "a" shop. Based on how it was written, I believe it could have been X, Y or Z brand. It was a review of your experience and opinion. I for one appreciated it. It validated my opinion, and from someone I view as a qualified source. Thanks for taking the time to write it.