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GTodd

Has anyone built a Kit Car?

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With life, an amaizng family, and work I find that I build and drive RC less and less.  My son and I will drive the cars a few time out of the year but not enough to justify the size of my collection. Im thinking about jumping in with two feet into the world of kit cars.  Ive got  Ford 289 in the garage torn down and IM right now looking into 289 FIA Cobra or Daytona kits. I really want to go a GT40 but the mid engine trans adds huge cost to the kits. 

Anyway, have any of you gone the first size kit car route?

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I’ve never built one, but I like your idea of a 289 cobra replica kit . Especially if you already have a Ford 289 on hand. 

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No, but I've always wanted to. My dad and I looked into the VW-based kits back in the 80s, we wanted to do either a 356 replica or a dune buggy. Never came to be. If I had the means, nowadays, I'd like to tackle a Caterham 7.

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Nope, I have wanted to build a Caterham 7 for years though. I just think it would be fun.

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me either, but have looked at a Countach kit to put on a beetle chassis, and tried to do a Canterham build with a friend, but we didn't get very far. What I did noticed though we my friend and I were looking for parts for the Canterham as lots of partial builds forsale. Projects that never got finished and had to move on at a discounted price. So that might be an avenue to save some money. And here in the land down under, there is a lot of regulations for kit cars too.

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I’ve built two Westfields over the years. The most difficult part is definitely the iva regulations following them to the letter is a must. When the car is registered you can change it and do whatever you like as long as it complies to MOT standards. 

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Not done a kit, but like a few above, looked into it a few decades ago (before doing a mini instead...)

Don't know about modern kits, but they all seemed to be based on either the VW Beetle chassis, or the Ford Sierra, both of which are getting thin on the ground these days.

I think ,60% of the original donor car is/was needed to keep the original registration plate, without having to go onto a Q plate, so getting a full donor car would help (not sure how strict the IVA is these days, but sure an original AC Cobra filler cap doesn't pass, as the corners don't meet the radius rule, so those rules would need learnt).

8 hours ago, GTodd said:

. I really want to go a GT40 but the mid engine trans adds huge cost to the kits. 

The Renault 25 (and 21?) box used to be the goto, as they where FWD, but had a longitudinal mounted engine. The big barges where unloved generally (although I liked mine! 🤷‍♂️), so you could get them cheap.

(Edit- looking like Lotus used this gearbox in their Esprit)

https://www.lotusespritturbo.com/Renault_UN1_16_Transmission.htm 

 

3 hours ago, yogi-bear said:

looked at a Countach kit

Prova do an excellent kit, and I would probably prefer a kit over a real, mainly as I could use it as a daily, without the massive service costs of a genuine, plus I wouldn't feel guilty fitting power steering and a discrete reversing camera! 

You're probably cheaper ,quicker and with less heart ache, buy one already done, but where is the fun in that!?! 🙄🤷‍♂️

There's a thread for 1:1 projects, so you can update us on the build (most of us are 'car guys' 😁

 

 

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I wanted a kit car, Mrs a classic Mini.

We had a kid and RC instead.

In the USA Factory five (I think it was) used to do some stunning looking Cobra / Daytona kits.

Factory Five

Probably better than over in the UK. The old Dax kits still seem to be available though

Dax became DJ now JK

An old friend of mine is building a GT40. I've no idea how he's going to fit in it when he's finished...

For a little light reading (if you don't fancy trawling the met) if you are in the UK, WH Smiths stock Complete Kit Car and they do a directory of manufacturers which might help.

CKC 2024 Guide

 

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I’m seconding a few things that have been stated by others above.

Yeah, a lot of the rear engine Air cooled VWs that the old kits were based off are becoming less available, there is still a kit car industry that persists with other chassis options. 
The Caterham and “LoCost” Lotus 7 replicas are popular track day tools and there are kits that use everything from motorcycle engines to big GM  LS V8s. 
 

There are also a lot of options based off stripping down a 1st gen Mazda mx5 (Miata in the U.S. ).

 

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I've had some experience with kit cars in the trade. The most pertinent being a Cobra. My shop did a lot of work for the late Steven Juliano. In addition to his Mopar collection, he also had other cars including Cobras. A '67 of his was slated to be sold and I was tasked with rebuilding the carbs before the sale. I was petrified of working on it, lol. Petrified of its aluminum bodywork and petrified to drive something so expensive. It sold for around $350,000 in the early 2000's IIRC.

As luck would have it, later that same year, a local used car dealership that normally dealt in Corvettes and higher end Mustangs and Camaros, came into the possession of a Cobra kit car through trade. It had a McLeod hydraulic throwout bearing that needed replacement and my shop with tasked to replace it. This fiberglass bodied kit car was fairly well put together and far less sketchy than most. Powered by a built 460, this car petrified me on the test drive, lol. It was quick and a lot of engine in a small car that was none too happy with our bumpy PA roads. The dealership sold it for $40,000 after I fixed it.

So what's the point? The two cars looked the same to an outsider, yet were somehow very different. I guess if you are looking for the experience of the original, than only the original will do. If you are concerned about having the appearance of the original with a unique, separate driving experience (based on the quality of the kit and the build), than a kit car is fine. I've seen great kits cars and I've seen terrible ones, but neither captures the original aside from looks. That's just my opinion from being in the trade.

Personally. I've never been a fan of VW or Fiero based kit cars (and I loved both). Like a bad toupee, they don't fool anyone. In 10-15 years time they looked as dated as a C4 Corvette with a body kit from 1988. Like Mark, my father was making rumblings selling the MGB we restored together and building a VW-based 356 replica...or restoring a Volvo P1800. I love VWs and Porsches but pushed for the P1800 instead. Of course his cancer diagnosis came not long after those talks so it was all moot. Sorry for all the personal opinion stuff. The more ground-up based cars that you seem to have interest in sit better with me. They aren't cheap and they take a lot of work to make nice but can come out looking and performing beautifully.

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1 hour ago, Dakratfink said:

.There are also a lot of options based off stripping down a 1st gen Mazda mx5 (Miata in the U.S. ).

 

There certainly are - what I was looking at before the dream...went RC :D

Kit cars are like RC in that they are different things to different people - silhouette sports cars, scratch build supercars and anything in-between.

I applaud anyone who takes the challenge, it looks to be a fantastic journey and with end result that will (hopefully) put that 'I made this' smile on your face every time you look at it. And an even bigger grin when you drive it.

Tamiya x10.

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49 minutes ago, Saito2 said:

restoring a Volvo P1800

I went to look at one of those beautiful cars in the late 90's, with the idea of using a mk3 Supra as a engine/running gear donor (when you could get a Supra with Tax & Test for under a grand...😳). 

Guy i know got a Gardner Douglas Cobra, which have the LS, and it's absolutely stunning, old school cool with modern reliability and not sure a genuine would be worth £300k extra to me tbh. As with the Prova Countach, I'd much prefer the kit, I'd be too scared to leave a gen anywhere, or drive them down our local thin ,overhanging bushed ,roads. 

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A bit like RC. Set a budget and then double it, and the be prepared to look the other way and “forget” to record some of your spending. 
 

I have looked many times but kits are no longer cheap sports cars based on rotting Escorts that were basically free. 
 

The big question is, do you have time and expertise to build it and if you do, do you have time and motivation to drive it?
 

I grew up around Kit cars as Dad did a few over the years. Unless you are desperate to start from the ground up, buy an almost finished 1 for 50% of what it cost to get that far

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Yep, I'm in America!  Currently looking at FFR FIA 289, 65 Coupe, and ERAs 289.  The ERA has higher resale, but the FFRs are easier to work on and both are near 1:1 replicas of the real deal. The ERA gets the nod for authentism due to its Jag rear, but the FFRs S550 independent rear is good too ....hmmmmmm

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After coming across these guys it's been hard to consider anyone else, especially in the USA:

http://www.superlitecars.com

and the replicas:

http://race-car-replicas.com

A colleague of mine built several of their kits, both for himself and various customers.  They are pricey, but the fit, and finish of the component parts is extraordinary.

As a point of reference -- he had also built a FF GTM (for himself; since sold) and a Cobra replica for a customer.  He found the Superlite experience far superior -- said the FF kits required a significant amount of re-work and modification to get anything to fit, whereas the Superlite kits went together like Lego.  He knew what he was doing, though -- I watched what he went through putting together his Superlite and it still seemed like a lot of custom fabrication to go from rolling chassis to fully fitted out.

Edited by FromageTheDog
Added not on FF cars vs. Superlite cars.

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I think Super lite and  RCR which make very high quality cars. I REALY want to build a GT40 type car, BUT the mid engine special trans make the builds very pricey.

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It may sound like sacrilege, but the least expensive option for a mid-engine transaxle setup may be an automatic, specifically the GM TH425 from the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado from the late 60s-early 70s. Super strong, good parts support, and some sports car pedigree: it was used in the Vector W8 in the 80s. Combine it with an Olds 455 or Cadillac 500, and you have a big powerful drivetrain for reasonably little. You just don't get a clutch pedal.

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I must admit, if money wasn't an option, I'd take a Pantera De Tomaso from the 70s (Dad had one for a couple of years when I was about 7), and install Tesla running gear. Sacrilege I know, but I suspect it would be pretty quick.

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Oh for sure, no autos! I am looking into the feasibility of using the Porsche Boxster trans. Apparently some have used it in their GT40s.

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7 hours ago, yogi-bear said:

I must admit, if money wasn't an option, I'd take a Pantera De Tomaso from the 70s (Dad had one for a couple of years when I was about 7), and install Tesla running gear. Sacrilege I know, but I suspect it would be pretty quick.

These guys have done some great electric swaps.

 

https://youtube.com/@ElectricClassicCars?feature=shared 

I'd be more inclined to fit a modern, reliable ,fuel injected motor in something like a Pantera, and probably something like a mk3 Jag for a classy, sleeper, tesla swap..

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2 hours ago, Wooders28 said:

These guys have done some great electric swaps.

 

https://youtube.com/@ElectricClassicCars?feature=shared 

they are doing some nice stuff.

 

2 hours ago, Wooders28 said:

I'd be more inclined to fit a modern, reliable ,fuel injected motor in something like a Pantera, and probably something like a mk3 Jag for a classy, sleeper, tesla swap..

that would be way more sensible. As I don't have the budget for either, I will have to settle with my Tl-01 chassis and HPI Pantera body :huh:

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Although I’ve never built a kit car because of the expense rather than the knowledge Back in the early years of my life just before I could actually drive (17 years old) I bought a 1976 triumph stag in BR green with no MOT for £75 and completely stripped it and got it about 80% rebuilt but needed new hard top and re spraying and few electrical issues sorted but swapped it for a 1978 mini with a 1275cc engine in it from a MG midget or Austin allegro never sure which it was really? Again completely stripped it down changed the rear subframe front subframe never rusted because of the constant oil leaks from the engine protected it welded and replaced all the rotting bits and there was a lot re sprayed it put mini light alloys on it with front rally spot lights and ran that for years as a new driver:wub:

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