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Kit Car
Old 09-05-2016, 11:03 AM   #1
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Kit Car

No, this has nothing to do with David Hasselhoff...I'd like to hear about any experience people here might have with building a car from a pre-ordered kit. I wanna know about upfront costs, special tools needed, special skills required, any hidden costs, and whatever else one should be looking at when considering such an endeavor.
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Old 09-05-2016, 06:52 PM   #2
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Just my opinion, but I think it's one of those questions where if you have to ask, you might want to assume it's not for you. I would expect a kit car is best for someone who is already into car repair in a pretty significant way. Not that you'd have to have all the tools, but you should be comfortable knowing you could rent them, get them from a friend or have a relationship with a shop that you could rely on. I'm not sure how kit cars work, but I can imagine having a hoist and an engine lift or crane would be very handy. I imagine you might need to do some welding and or cutting, wiring, alignment . . . All perfectly doable, but much more so for someone who is already into cars and being mechanical.
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Old 09-05-2016, 07:34 PM   #3
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I think it really matter what kind of kit car... I think some are just body on an existing car, so not as much work... but, you need a car in order to do it...

Others are smaller type cars that are more open... but you get the whole car... you put the whole thing together...

I looked at this maybe 20 years ago and decided I did not have the time to do it... but hey, maybe now is a great time...


Let us know what you decide and keep us updated if you go forward...
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Old 09-05-2016, 07:36 PM   #4
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I sometimes read the Factory Five forums, and am amazed at what those guys go through and how much money they spend on their kit cars. But when completed, they're not close to the original Cobras in design.

The Superformance cars coming in from S. Africa built but lacking the engine and tranny might be just a good buy, and they sell better on the used market.

Completing a kit car requires someone that's got a one track mind that'll make it a job day by day until the car's completed. I've got the skills, but am too ADHD to take on such a task. I most often have too many projects at the same time to put 100% of my attention to a kit car.

Another source of such a car is Unique Motorcars in Gadsden, AL. They build kit Cobras and put out some completely built. A local guy bought one and dropped a $20K engine into a Unique (850 hp), and it's as beautiful as any car I've ever seen.
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Old 09-05-2016, 09:50 PM   #5
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I can only imagine doing this, it must be similar to building an airplane without quite as dangerous a test drive.
Far beyond my skills and time.
Biggest job I ever did was adjust the valves on a Lada because they sounded too noisy.
If you decide to do it, please post pictures so we can follow your progress over the years
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Old 09-06-2016, 12:17 AM   #6
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My father and I looked at Factory Five Cobra kits for about six months. Would have been an awesome car. We were looking at putting a Mustang coyote motor in it. Our budget was about $30-40k. You can find some with the Ford 351 for around $30k IIRC. A lot of people have these unfinished kits in their garages. Eventually the wife wants them gone. It might be worth it to finish someone else's project.
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Old 09-06-2016, 03:25 AM   #7
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Not kit cars, but....
recently read about a Ford dealership (in Ohio) that was selling new Mustang GT's, modified to 700+ HP, out the door, $39,999. (Extra beefy suspension was more). This was their specialty, and they sold quite a few.

Seems like a good deal compared to a Hellcat.....

(BTW, I am too cheap to buy one, but I enjoy reading about them.....)
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Old 09-06-2016, 08:17 AM   #8
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............ A lot of people have these unfinished kits in their garages. Eventually the wife wants them gone. It might be worth it to finish someone else's project.
My thoughts, too. I used to want to get a Porsche Speedster body to fit on a VW chassis, but convinced myself it was just too many hours of work, too much space in the garage and something I wouldn't drive much if / when I finished it. Would be fun to rent one for a day.
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Old 09-06-2016, 01:20 PM   #9
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I built a Factory Five roadster ("Cobra") a few years back. I went to the build school in Michigan and I highly recommend that (3 day course). I really enjoyed the project and it turned out very well. I farmed out the bodywork and had help with the wiring. When it was done, I had way too much money in the car. You have to keep in mind that no matter how good it looks when you are done, it is still a kit car and will never have significant value. My biggest problem with the car (and the reason why I sold it) was that it was so uncomfortable to drive. I am 6'1" and 230 lbs and that is a really small car. I only could tolerate about 20 min behind the wheel and I had to drive barefoot since the footbox (even with modification) was so small. If you are considering building a FFR kit, find someone who owns one and sit in it. All in all, it was a fun project and I would recommend it if you think that you can drive it comfortably.

Regarding tools, you really don't need anything very high tech. You can buy an engine stand and hoist from Harbor freight for just a few hundred dollars. Yes, there are some tools that are really handy, but not necessary. At the top of the list would be an air compressor with air rivet tool.

If I had to do it all over again, I would probably buy a decent Toyota FJ40 and restore it. Not a sportscar, but simple to work on and very easy to get parts for.
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Kit Car
Old 09-06-2016, 01:24 PM   #10
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Kit Car

I had a WCM Ultralite I bought used. It was a crazy fast street legal go kart but parts kept falling off despite regular maintenance. Ymmv.



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Old 09-06-2016, 01:31 PM   #11
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I had a WCM Ultralite I bought used. It was a crazy fast street legal go kart but parts kept falling off despite regular maintenance. Ymmv.
At least the parking brake worked.
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Old 09-06-2016, 01:32 PM   #12
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At least the parking brake worked.
Ha ha!

That picture was when I bought it. Seller did no maintenance and it was somewhat of a mess at the time.
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Old 09-06-2016, 02:04 PM   #13
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A lot of people have these unfinished kits in their garages. Eventually the wife wants them gone. It might be worth it to finish someone else's project.
X2, not only will you be ahead financially, but you also are ahead with the work to be done completing the car.

To me it is not really any harder than building an old car up. For example, start with a complete, but non-running car. Strip it all down to bare shell and frame, change the suspension (don't forget potentially rebuilding the donor suspension), add new drivetrain (rebuild or buy already done), do any body repairs, painting the car, rewire it all, add interior and some driver comforts like heat, A/C, radio, etc.

The actual starting point being a kit car or just some old car does not make as much difference in the end. Just build what you like, except it is always easier to buy a stalled project vs starting from scratch.
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Old 09-06-2016, 02:25 PM   #14
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I've done a couple of cobras from different manufacturer's kits. They were both very rewarding experiences. Much easier than building an old car up....my guess based on your handle is that you've done that a time or two. My Dad's retired and does restorations, I couldn't find the time or patience to do a restoration while working. The kit cars were a fraction of the work and allowed me the challenge of customizing a build and seeing it come to life.
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Old 09-06-2016, 05:04 PM   #15
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Before I set out on that kind of project, I'd visit a guy I met who lives in the UK. His wisdom, which I figured I'd share here, is that the hard part is getting the interior items all in good working order, and separating yourself from the outside (good doors, seals, windows, and all of that).

His solution was to find a brand new car. Not one that was very "stylish", but very functional from a ergonomic perspective, and use all of that "cabin", but throw-out (actually part-out), the rest of the new car. Then he'd put that on a frame with a performance motor and make a sexy body for it. Then, you've got yourself something you can drive in comfort.

He's done this several times, and said he's written articles in magazines about his experiences. When I said he should offer kits, he said, nah, then you'd need to talk to customers, lol!
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