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!

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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?

1. My Wheel Life – Intro

Hello world. My name is Axel Hoogland. My passions are speed, design and engineering. I am a gearhead, car guy, engineer, motorcycle rider, dirt bike rider/racer, amateur/aspiring car builder and hopeful entrepreneur. I don’t discriminate against any genre of cars. Classic muscle cars, super cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, classic hot rods, rat rods, sleepers, odd ball builds, dirtbikes, monster trucks, rally cars, drift cars, if people are passionate about their vehicle I love ém all!

Growing up my father told me that I should shy away from being a mechanic as a full time job. He told me that cars were a good hobby but not a high paying career. There was some truth to that but obviously many people are able to make a career out of working on cars also. That being said, I am very grateful for the direction my father steered me in. I was able to attend a 4 year college and graduate with a mechanical engineering degree. This has allowed me to be exposed to the initial steps of what goes into designing engines and vehicles. I now have a greater appreciation of all the testing and design work that happens before any vehicle is released to market. I also have been fortunate to visit many manufacturers of various components. Heads, blocks, frames, tires, rims, shift knobs, dipstick tubes, they are all made by someone! I have learned that no one (company or individual) builds a car by themselves. Every company has thousands of suppliers for each part of the car.

I was grateful to be exposed to dirt track racing from my father at an early age. His love of racing consumed all his free time that wasn’t spent farming. Also growing up on the farm I was exposed to a lot of broken machinery. I have been fixing things from a young age. As I have grown older I have been able to work on projects that are more interesting, involved and fun oriented than broken farm machinery.

During college I was part of a (FSAE) Formula Society of automotive engineer’s team. This is a great team for young gearheads. The team designs and builds a Formula 1 style (scaled down with a 600cc or less motorcycle engine) race car and compete against many other young hard working college students from around the world.

Since graduating I have had difficulties, at times, finding gearhead activities. This summer I am hoping to take in as many gearhead activities as I can. I have already participated in my first SCCA autocross. That was a great time despite the torrential rain all day. There were about 40 cars there and the people were great fun to talk to. I also took my newest car drag racing this summer. I have been drag racing before but it is always fun, especially with a new car. I will try to share some stories from those adventures in future posts.

I have also found it difficult at times to get friends interested in car related activities. Often people these days are only interested in drinking, watching tv, playing video games or putting all of their pictures of them doing those activities on social media. I don’t want to sound like a troll here. Those are all fine activities and I enjoy them on occasion, but personally I get much more enjoyment from going out and working on a car, going to a car show or better yet driving!

Through My Wheel Life, I want to inspire those of you who have similar interests to get out of your house/apartment/local bar and start participating in the gearhead community.

Hope you enjoy the ride!