How To Build a Kit Car
Many potential owners worry about how to build a kit car and whether they have the necessary mechanical skills to complete the project to a safe and roadworthy level. Yet for the majority of kits available on the market today that’s something you don’t need to concern yourself about too much.
See, the kit car manufacturers realised early on that in order to sell their kit they need to find potential customers with the required skills or they had to make the kits easy enough for the average DIY mechanic to complete without too much fuss.
So it made sense to them to not only do most of the complicated stuff for you, but also to give people access to advice when they do run into problems along the way.
Let’s be honest here…if they were too difficult, nobody would want to build one!
A Car Is Born
As if to prove the point, Mark Evans built a Pilgrim Sumo cobra replica from scratch, with pretty much every nut and bolt filmed along the way. But what surprises most people is that Evans is actually a veterinarian by profession! Not exactly typical mechanic material.
Yet the finished vehicle looks as professional as anything I’ve seen on the road in recent years with handling and performance to match its good looks. In the final episode of the series, Mark Evans looks proud to show off his creation to fellow kit car enthusiasts, and rightly so.
If you are in the UK, the series is available on DVD but unfortunately for any American visitors it is PAL encoded so it will not play in US DVD players.
Perhaps if you’re lucky it may be shown on one of the cable tv channels. If so, it is most definitely worth watching.
Where To Start…
In answer to the original question, your first stop should always be to check with the manufacturer of the kit you wish to build.
Now while this sounds pretty obvious, you will be surprised to discover just how many kits are built from a wide range of components rather than from a particular donor. So before you commit yourself to buying a scrap car to butcher, you would be advised to find out if you actually need one!
Another reason to consult the manufacturer is that quite often, they can tell you where to source your parts at the right price. Many even go so far as to package the required bits as a kit, saving you the trouble of marching down to the scrap yard, spanners in hand, to rescue the bits you need.
Join The Club
Another step you should take before you spend any of your hard earned cash is to check out the owners club. They have a wealth of experience in building and driving your particular project vehicle and can often tell you where any problems are likely to arise and what you should do about them.
Joining the owners club will often give you access to discounts on parts and services as well as the all important insurance. This alone can often cover any subscription fees.
Know Your Limits
When you take on a project as big as building a kit car, it’s quite easy to get carried away with the excitement and simply rush headlong into doing everything yourself.
Now of course if you have the necessary mechanical skills then go right ahead – don’t let me get in your way!
However, it’s often worth taking a moment to jot down what you already know you are confident doing, and mperhaps more important, making a note of some of the tasks you may need some help with. This can save you time further down the line as you will already be looking out for ways to overcome your weak spots.
For example, if you know you will need someone to do any welding on the project and you have no welding experience you have a number of options:
- Check if the manufacturer offers the service.
- See if the owners club can recommend someone who has completed a similar job in the past.
- Go to evening classes and learn the skill yourself.
Whichever option you eventually settle for will depend on a number of factors, not least your available budget.
In conclusion, when planning a project like this, fight the urge to jump in head first and spend some time planning out a rough timeline. Include what tasks need doing and who will have the skills to complete the job safely and within budget. When you do this you will no longer be concerned about how to build a kit car. You will be able to focus on getting this collection of auto parts ready to drive.