What is a Kit Car?

Kit Cars – What are they?
Think of a Lego set, but for a car!
Why kit cars?
They are a car focused on performance or style. Imagine a Ferrari or Shelby Cobra for the price of a new Ford Focus!

Lets put it together!

I’ve written a few articles about buying cheaper used supercars or

newer muscle cars and I’ve told you about a few different styles of cars such as  street rods and muscle cars. But buying a car assembled by a major manufacture isn’t the only way to get a car. If you are the handy type or just want to break the mold, you can build a car yourself! Of course, building a car by yourself, from nothing is a pretty difficult task, and that’s not what I’m proposing, although that has been done also! Check it out here. If you’re not as hard-core as Ken, but still want something different you are in luck! You can build a kit car!

So what is a kit car? A kit car is a car that you purchase in pieces and assemble yourself, it’s basically like a Lego set, or buying a table from IKEA. Why would anyone want to do this you might ask? Well there are a few reasons.

1. You can get a kit car that looks and performs like a much more expensive car than it is.
2. You can build a car that never existed.
3. You can build a car that did exist but is way too rare to buy an original. (Think Shelby Cobra).

Why would a company want to design a kit car instead of a production car? There are a few reasons for that also!

1. It is (much much) cheaper for a company to design and sell a kit can than it is for Ford, or other major manufacturers. Often kit cars source a reliable engine from the major manufacturers. The body and suspension are the major contributions by the designers.

2. This is because a kit car doesn’t have to pass all the safety standards a new car does. They also aren’t held to the same standards for NVH and other considerations. That being said, that doesn’t mean that they are (all) unsafe, or harsh. Many companies put a lot of work into the kits to make them great cars.

Let’s look at the different types of kit cars available.

The first are replicas of current or older cars that you can build yourself. One example of this is the Factory Five Roadster . It is basically a recreation of a Shelby Cobra from the 1960’s. Why not just buy an original Cobra you ask?


Check Hemmings Motor news http://www.hemmings.com/ . An original Shelby Cobra is rare, and therefore expensive (think $100k+) where as a Factory Five Roadster can be assembled for $30k if you do it the right way. You also have the benefit of putting a variety of engines and upgrades suspension, electronics and just about everything else that has progressed in the automotive world in the last 50 years.

Another that is one of my favorites is a Chevrolet Cheetah kit car. What is a Chevrolet Cheetah you ask? It was a car made to beat the Shelby Cobra in it’s day. Unfortunately tragedy befell the company and only 19 (or so) were ever made. The good news is you can buy the beautiful Cheetah as a kit and put it together yourself!

Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s are other vehicles that are popular in this type of “build cheaper than you can buy” category.


The second type of kit car is a car that never was made. Factory Five has one of these available also. Is called the Factory Five GTM supercar. It’s a “generic” supercar being that it is low, wide and good looking. That being said, it is also a lot more ‘’cost effective” than a Ferrari or Lambo, and if you were to damage it, you know you could always rebuild it!  Here are 2 other supercar kits. The Superlite (at beginning of article) is the first, and here’s a quote from their site

“Q. How easy is it to build, really? –
A. The Superlite SLC was designed to be built in your garage, using basic hand tools.  You don’t need to do any welding, or machining, or have fancy tools.”
Sounds pretty great to me!

And here’s another supercar/racecar kit, the Ultima GTR, made in England.

And here’s a final one, the K1 Attack, made in the Czech Republic.
There is also a third type of kit car. It’s not a complete kit like the cars talked about before, but it’s a massive redesign of an existing car but also bought in kit form. Pontiac Fieros are popular cars for this as they were rear engine like many supercars. Often they get made into Lamborghini’s.

There is also this car, build from a 1990’s Ford Thunderbird.

So as you can see the kit car industry is far reaching, covering many different styles of cars. They are actually relatively affordable, if you are in the market for a performance car. There are often different levels of each kit available. Often you can buy just a body and source all the other parts yourself, such as the brakes, seats, wheels and tires. There are also kit cars that the factories will in fact build for you! There are even some that will let you help them build your car!

Here is a site with a very long list of kit car manufacturers if you are looking for something different. There is a car for everyone!

As always, please share this article and Like us on Facebook

So has this gotten your creative juices flowing? Are you rip roaring ready to get down in the garage and build your own car? Or would you rather buy a production car? Have you ever seen a kit car on the street or at a car show?

Car Spotters guide to the galaxy, part deux

Helping you tell the difference between a pony car, muscle car, sports car and exotics.
The topic of what makes a muscle/pony/sports car is very debatable and you’ll get 100 different answers from 100 different car guys. All opinions voiced below are strictly those of myself, and are not necessarily right. That being said, they definitely aren’t wrong either.This is meant to give you a basic understanding enough to say, who cares what exactly it is, is it cool?

Supercar, Lamborghini Reventon

Supercar, Lamborghini Reventon

La Carrera! (The Race in Espanol, why espanol? not sure, why not? Get some culture in you grease monkeys!)

If you read this article about identifying cars of older vintages approximately 1920’s to 1960’s you are on a good start to knowing what cars are driving down the road and impressing all your friends with your knowledge, or annoying your friends by pointing out every old car they don’t care about.

Either way, you still have a long way to go before you can identify every genre of cars with your eyes closed, young greasemonkey,, so we will continue our car spotters guide here with the next group of cars, in my mind and history muscle cars, pony cars, sports cars and exotics/super cars.

Pony cars – This segment of cars was started in 1964 ½ by the Ford Mustang, hence the pony reference. A pony car is distinguished by it’s physical body features. These are light 2 door, 4 seat, long hood, short truck cars. They can be physically smaller than most muscle cars (although a pony car can be a muscle car also, more later). If you have ever actually stood next to a 1965 Ford Mustang it’s quite a small car!

Notice the short trunk in relation to the long hood.

Notice the short trunk in relation to the long hood.

A pony car can even have a V6 or I6 (like early Mustangs,Camaros, Challengers).To give you some idea an earlier Pontiac GTO (1965) or 1969 Dodge Charger or Plymouth Road runner would NOT be a pony car since the rear trunk is much longer proportionally, related to the hood, than a Camaro or Mustang. Most pony cars were American made, although there might be a few Australian cars that could count, Holden something? To be honest this phrase, pony car, has more or less fallen out of use.

Pony Car, 1967 Camaro

Pony Car, 1967 Camaro

Classic American muscle – In general 1964 to 1972 was considered the heyday of the “true” muscle cars, the ones that started it all. Muscle cars are mostly an American phenomenon, although there were also some Australian muscle cars, Ford XB Falcon (of Mad Max fame)

Ford Falcon XB Mad Max

Ford Falcon XB Mad Max

or the Holden (General Motors) Monaro. Unlike pony cars which are determined by body type, muscle cars are determined by what’s under the hood. That’s why cars below like the Chevelle could be a muscle car or not based on which engine was installed in it.

Muscle Car, Chevrolet Chevelle

Muscle Car, Chevrolet Chevelle

Many argue the 1964 Pontiac GTO was the first muscle car. The GTO was an option of the LeMans that upgraded to 389 cubic inches of V8 power putting down 325 hp. So how can a car be both a pony car and a muscle car? See below.
Ex: A Mustang with a I6 or small V8 (289 CID) would be a pony car but can become a Muscle car by giving it a humongous engine, 427 CID V8. BUT a Dodge Charger, with it’s large body dimensions, is basically automatically a muscle car, but definitely not a pony car.

1969 Dodge Charger, Muscle car! Long hood, long trunk.

1969 Dodge Charger, Muscle car! Long hood, long trunk.

Muscle car, Plymouth Super Bird. A very long car!

Muscle car, Plymouth Super Bird. A very long car!

Because of their large displacement, muscle cars were masters of the quartermile drag race but are notorious for not handling great, especially in relation to lower powered foreign sports cars. Most muscle cars are 4 seaters, but the back seats are a bit more roomy than their pony car counterparts. Although, I’d argue that an AMC AMX, although only a 2 seater, was a muscle car as opposed to a sports car.

Sports car – The word “Sports Car” is a catchall term so broad you could basically use it for anything that performs better than a minivan. For older car’s I’d say that a Chevrolet Corvette and a Shelby Cobra were the two American made sports cars. This was because they were 2 seat cars, often lighter than pony or muscle cars, and had better stopping and cornering performance than contemporary muscle cars. That’s not to say that sports cars can’t have 4 seats also, ex: Nissan 370Z.

Picture showing the variety of sports cars, Nissan 370Z and an 80's Corvette

Picture showing the variety of sports cars, Nissan 370Z and an 80’s Corvette

Into the decades after the 1970’s the term sports car can be applied to so many vehicles so I’ll just list a few to show the diversity, Mazda Miata, Ferrari anything, Nissan all Z cars, most cars you refer to as a muscle car can also be a sports car. Dodge Viper. Dodge Stealth. Acura NSX.

Sports car, Mercedes C63 AMG

Sports car, Mercedes C63 AMG

Modern Muscle car – This is any car made after the 1972 date break for “classic” muscle cars. This is because in 1972 the US government began mandating emission testing for new cars. This effectively killed the performance of muscle cars for the next 15+ years.

Modern Muscle car, 2012 Boss Mustang

Modern Muscle car, 2012 Boss Mustang

That being said, the latest muscle cars, (2000 and newer) are often much better performing cars than their older counterparts, especially in the handling department. The term pony car is basically dead, as far as I’m concerned. Really, do you want to drive a pony car or a muscle car? I think we can see why that term is not so popular anymore.

Exotics/Supercars – Supercars are just what the name implies. They are super in every way. Super fast, super expensive, super cool. They are generally more capable than your average car, in terms of performance, for their time. Some 1970’s super cars could be easily beat in some competitions by a contemporary minivan. Super cars are very powerful like muscle cars, but can also employ a mid or rear engine configuration. They are also exclusively 2 seat cars. They are low to the ground, wide and aerodynamically shaped for their high top speeds and fast cornering characteristics. Italy is the hot spot for super cars with the Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s but there are definitely many more around the world, and new supercars arriving on the scene everyday.

Exotic - Testarossa Ferrari. Top of the line Ferrari in it's day.

Exotic – Testarossa Ferrari. Top of the line Ferrari in it’s day.

Just a few are Koenigsegg, Pagani, Saleen S7, Ford GT, Porsche Carrera GT. Supercar and exotic are basically interchangeable terms, and the exotic name implies that they are made in very low numbers. This can make it a bit confusing when you start to look at some cars like a Dodge Viper or a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. They are both modifications of a sports car for sure. Does their lower production volumes and higher performance make them an exotic? I’m not sure, you decide! Luckily there is no right or wrong answer here.

Exotic, Lexus LFA

Exotic, Lexus LFA

So that was quite the list of different cars. Hopefully you can better tell them apart now.
What is your favorite type of car? Is it in this list?

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14. Ferrari 360 vs. 2014 Corvette

If you found $70k in a bag in an alley what could you buy?
1999-2005 Ferrari 360 vs. 2014 Corvette
Or you could buy both cars from the last comparison ! 2002 Viper and a 2012 Boss Mustang, that’s probably what I’d do, or 10 $7k cars, ask my friends.


On to the country club:

Here I am again bench racing what I’d buy if I suddenly was to come upon $70k.
I have settled upon two cars, a 1999-2005 Ferrari 360 or a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. Lets see how these 2 incredible cars stack up to each other.
ferrari 360 48k miles $60k
First the Ferrari. This car was Ferrari’s bread and butter car in the years it was made. They about 16,000 samples of this car in those years (a lot for a Ferrari), nearly equally split between coupes and spyder (convertible) models.

Here are the hard numbers on the Ferrari 360.
3.6L V8, 400 HP, 2844 lbs, quarter mile 12.8 seconds at 110 mph (Wikipedia)
The last time I checked on EbayMotors there were 6 Ferrari 360’s between $60,000 and $70,000 and they had between 22,000 and 50,000 miles.
For reference a 360 new was between $140,000 and $180,000 so a price drop of almost ½ is incredible! http://autos.aol.com/cars-Ferrari-360+Modena-2004/user-reviews/
Of course you need to shop around to get the best deal.
ferrari 360

2014 vette blue_light
This brings us to the second car in our comparison. Incredibly, the beautifully redesigned for 2014 Corvette, can be bought for as little as $53,000 (or so tells me the Chevrolet website), or up to $65,000 for a LT3/Z51 model. Of course the Z06 and other faster models will be more but they will be out of the price/performance range of someone cross shopping with an older Ferrari. http://www.chevrolet.com/corvette-stingray/specs/trims.html

2014 Corvette

2014 Corvette

For a rough comparison on volumes, in 2013, that being the last year of the C6 there were approximately 14,000 corvettes sold.This is nearly as many in one year as all Ferrari 360’s for their whole production run.

Click to access 2013CorvetteStats.pdf

The 2014 C7 Corvette is one of the greatest performance vehicles ever offered, and doubly so when the price is taken into account!
455 Horsepower (55 more than the Ferrari), 12.2 seconds in the quarter mile at 117 mph(.6 seconds faster than the Ferrari). 3444 Lbs (a full 600 Lbs heavier than the Ferrari)
2014 Corvette
These are both beautiful vehicles. Which one you would buy depends on what you intend to do with it. If it were me, I’d buy the Corvette if I planned to drive the car hard. Being that it’s a new car it’s less likely to break than a used Ferrari and if it does being new it will be under warranty. It’s also a faster car in every aspect than the Ferrari. The new Corvette is also a very aggressive looking car. The new front, side skirts, and rear quarters are all sculpted to make it look ready to pounce at any moment.
On the other hand, the 360 Ferrari is, in my opinion, an extremely beautiful car. The body lines just flow and look “right”. While the Corvette is an attack on your eyeballs, the Ferrari is more inviting. It seduces you with its curves. It invites you to rev it’s 3.6L to the 8500 RPM redline (vs the 6600 of the new Corvette). As in the Viper/Mustang comparison in the other article, the both cars will turn heads, but you will see many many more 2014 Corvettes vs Ferrari 360’s. If I was buying a car to turn heads and get “the look” in I’d go for the Ferrari.

Which do you prefer? Would you buy another car if you came upon $70k?

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12. Modern muscle vs. classic supercar

Window shopping for cars is one of my favorite past times.
I have a diverse love of cars.
New (2012) cars often outperform, or at least equal, old (2002) “exotics” or supercars.
So for this article I’m only considering cars built basically 1998-2014

1995/6 Dodge Viper

1995/6 Dodge Viper

The Flying mile:
This article is dedicated to window shopping (or Ebay shopping). For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to assume your great uncle Alfred has died and left you $35k to buy a car. Lucky you! But sorry for your loss. 😦
My favorite place to look for a wide range of cars like this is Ebay because of it’s quick sort properties. I generally type the vehicle I want, then “Buy It now” then sort by “Lowest Price first” and that tells you the absolute bottom price you can pay for a car of that make. There are other ways to car shop, as I’ve talked about before, but this is definitely the quickest I’d say.

With $35k you could buy a LOT of different cars, but again for the sake of argument, lets say you are into american muscle cars. V8 (or V10 – Dodge Viper). What kinds of cars can you afford in the $35k price range? There are TONS of cars you can buy for that. Porsches, Toyota Supras, Skylines, Camaros, RX-7’s, Mercedes. So let’s say you are in the market for a newer American Muscle car. But do you want an “exotic” such as a classic Dodge Viper? or a more modern car like a Shelby or Boss Mustang? Let’s investigate the merits of each.

I’ve picked 3 cars below, an older (10+ years old) Dodge Viper, a 7 year old Shelby Mustang GT500 and a 2012 Boss Mustang. Seems like a pretty strange comparison of cars? Why not a New Dodge Challenger? Because I like the Mustangs, and the Viper, that’s why. Also, for the people who are extremely brand loyal I ask why? Any one engineer could end up working for any of the Big 3 (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge) or any car manufacturer for that matter. They are all big companies and when it gets to these very fast cars everyone is on a pretty level playing field, despite what Brand Loyalists will argue. Perhaps in the future I’ll look at some more comparison. Anyway, onto the numbers.

The first car to consider is a 2nd generation Dodge Viper. I really love the style of this car, especially the coupe. There were approximately 10,000 Vipers made in this 6 year span. That low production,compared to 10,000 2007 Mustang GT500’s, puts the viper in the class of an exotic. Also that it was significantly more powerful than the “normal” muscle cars of the day, Camaros, Mustangs. It was in Lamborghini fast and powerful territory. What are the benefits of buying an exotic? For one exclusivity. How many will you see? From the production numbers, not many! What are the downsides of an exotic. Not as many people will be qualified to work on it and parts will be expensive. You see the Viper has taken quite a cost depreciation (for examples worth $35k vs it’s starting cost at the turn of the millennium. But there are also many selling for lots over the $35k mark. Despite being older the viper posts competitive performance numbers to the newer “common” car.

2002 Dodge Viper

2002 Dodge Viper

1996-2002 (2nd gen) Dodge Viper
Cost new: $70,000
450 Horsepower 8L Natural aspirated V10 engine
Quartermile 12.2-12.3 seconds
3420 Lbs (500lbs lighter than 2007 Mustang GT500)
Top Speed: 185 Mph

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

The 2007 Mustang GT500 is the next car we will consider. Funny that it’s another snake (Viper vs Cobra).
Cobra vs. Viper

Cobra vs. Viper

It boasted 500 horsepower which puts it ahead of the older viper yet you see the quartermile time is slower. Part of this can have to do with track prep, vehicle prep, driver. You can see times vary by as much as .5 seconds on a vehicle based on those factors. You’ll see the same time slip discrepancies for a 2012 Boss below .6 seconds between different magazine tests. For reference once a vehicle goes 11.5 seconds in a quarter mile you need to install a roll cage. So for the average Joe the Viper is probably a little faster, based on the test numbers. Also the exclusivity of the Viper is a selling point. “Total production for 2007 GT500’s comes to 10,844 units with 8,150 of those being coupes and 2,694 being” – MotorAuthority. And that was only one year! same as 6 for the Viper.You will also not that the top speed of the GT500 is limited to 155 Mph this is pretty standard, unless a car is an exotic, like the Viper, but really when will you go that fast?
2007 Mustang GT500
Cost new: <$50k,000
500 HP 5.4L supercharged V8
Quartermile 12.7-12.9 seconds
3920 Lbs
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang
The last car we will consider is a 2012 Boss Mustang. This “common” car is boasting 444 hp, almost as much as the 10+ year older Viper. The Boss went on a diet compared to it’s older brother the 2007 GT500. It also lost some horsepower, but you can see from the quartermile times that they are at least equal or some places measured the Boss as faster and equal to the 10 year older Viper which is a much higher class of vehicle. Again, this is based on a lot of factors such as track prep, driver, etc. This also goes to show what 10 years of technology will do for performance when this Mustang costs about 1/2 of what the Viper did 10 years earlier and is on the same performance level. For exclusivity there were approximately 4000 2012 Boss Mustang’s built in one year. You will see that the depreciation is not near what the Viper, being 10 years old, is, only a few thousand from the MSRP of $42k to our target of around $35k. Also you get the benefit of newer technology and with that reliability. I would say that a 2012 Boss will have more readily available and cheaper parts than a 2002 Dodge Viper.
2012 Boss Mustang
Cost New:$42,000
444 HP 5.0L Naturally aspirated V8
Quartermile 12.3-12.8 Seconds
3666 LBS
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang

2012 Boss Mustang


Based on the above synopsis, which vehicles would you buy? I am torn. All will be great vehicles down the road and will get many looks from passers-by. Do you want the raw power and exclusivity of a V10 Viper or the newer reliability and equal performance of the newer Boss or Shelby. Once you get to vehicles of this performance in competition, a lot of the performance falls on the driver as these are all more car than most people are ever exposed to. So which one would you buy? What other vehicles would you consider?