|So what are kit cars then?
A kit car is a collection of mechanical and body components
that are assembled by a professional or amateur to form a road
A kit can come in many variations, from basic to complete -
which includes every last nut and bolt.
A basic kit, which most manufacturers offer, generally consists
of the body and chassis components of the car with a few odds
and ends thrown in for good measure to get you started.
If you purchase a basic kit from a manufacturer, you are then
left to source the majority of the mechanical components yourself.
This generally takes the form of purchasing a donor car.
On the whole the body will be constructed from GRP (Glass Reinforced
Plastic) also referred to as fibre glass ala TVR and Lotus (one
time kit car manufacturers). Figure 1 shows a typical one piece
body shell for a Cobra replica. The body is normally finished
with gel coat. This sets hard and gives the smooth finish one
would expect from a car body. Depending on what the manufacturer
offers, the gel coat can come in many different colours which
forms the finished surface. If you opt to spray the body then
the gel coat will normally be grey.
The chassis is generally fabricated out of various profiles
of metal of differing gauges. Some form sheet metal to create
the chassis and some use a combination of both. Figure 2 shows
a Mk2 Pilgrim sumo chassis which utilises the latter configuration.
The donor car required will be specified by the manufacturer.
Popular choices due to their availability are the range of Ford
vehicles such as the Fiesta and Sierra, although the list of
donor cars that are used generally spans the spectrum of popular
mass produced cars. These cars normally donate (hence donor)
a large proportion of their mechanical components such as engine,
gearbox, suspension etc to be reconditioned and fitted into
the newly purchased kit.
Kit car manufactures are normally small privately owned businesses
run by people that are very enthusiastic about what they produce
and sell to the likes of you and me.
A typical manufacturer would have designed and developed the
car they are selling themselves. The fabrication of the kit
(the body, chassis and other specialist components) is normally
either done in-house or subcontracted out to specialist firms.
Some kit manufacturers for instance make the GRP bodies for
other kit manufactures.
Besides the Body and Chassis of the kit, manufacturers often
supply a large proportion of the remaining items that are needed
to complete the build. Some of the components are specific to
that particular kit, so you generally have to purchase these
items from the manufacturer. Other items are more general and
you can pick and choose where to buy them from.
Most manufacturers offer complete kits which just leaves you
to find the components supplied by the donor car. A lot of manufacturers
can also supply reconditioned donor parts. It's really up to
you as to how involved you want to get in the build of the car.
Various choices exist regarding the actual build of a kit car.
One of the many reasons for wanting a kit car is the actual
build itself. Many people find that this is the best part of
the whole kit car ownership cycle - others would rather someone
else did it.
It's entirely down to you how you want to play it. You can
build it completely yourself, you can get someone else to build
it such as a keen friend or a specialist
build up company. The latter is going to cost you
more due to the additional labour costs - your keen friend will
probably be happy being paid in beers!
If you are going to attempt the build yourself then a good
starting point for your new build is a clean dry garage. Better
still would be a large, clean, dry garage with workbench and
mains electrics and all the tools that every self respecting
garage should contain.
Most people keep a record of the time it takes and the cost
of the overall build. It's important that you keep all receipts
of the build, right down to the last tin of paint, as the vehicle
licensing office will want to see them when the time comes to
register your new car.
Registering your new car
|| All kit cars with four wheels
or over have to pass a Single Vehicle Approval (SVA)
The SVA test involves a thorough examination of your completed
vehicle at an authorised
testing centre to check that it complies with the
Inspectorate website goes into more detail as to
what is expected of a vehicle to get approval.
Do make sure before purchasing a kit that the manufacturer
can provide proof that his car, if built properly will pass
the SVA test. Avoid manufactures that employ tactics that enable
the car 'to get round the SVA test'. This generally means that
certain components are either missing from the car or are only
on the car temporarily for the expressed purpose of passing
the SVA test. These items are then removed afterwards. The SVA
test is there to make our cars safe for you, me and the general
populace. Comply with it fully, it's for all our benefit. Ask
other owners how they got on with the test, do as much research
Now you've done all the hard graft (or not as the case may
be!) you can relax and enjoy driving your new pride and joy.
Soak up all the looks you'll get, take pride in the positive
comments from passers by as they admire your handy work. This
part of kit car ownership can be very rewarding. Your car will
stand out from the crowd of the everyday hum drum motor cars.
People appreciate this and generally tell you so.
If you haven't already, take the opportunity to join a club
that is associated with your car. Clubs normally have their
own social scene, can provide enormous help with tips and tricks
regarding your build and can offer other incentives such as
reduced insurance rates for members.
Go to some of the kit car shows throughout the year. This gives you the opportunity to see the
latest offerings from the manufacturers and to meet other kit