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 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!
So if you’ve always wanted to assemble a road going car from little more than a donor vehicle and a manufacturers kit but kept asking yourself how to build a kit car if you’re not a mechanic, then check out this video. Here you’ll watch Nick as he takes a decent Suzuki Vitara, chops it up and rips it apart…before putting it all back together again with an NCF Blitz supplied Outbak frame and body.
As you will notice, the process is quite involved and requires a fair amount of cutting and welding, the two skills that tend to put most would-be kit builders off. Yes, there are many projects available that literally bolt together without having to touch a welder and if you prefer that approach then I’m sure you will get just as much enjoyment from your kit as this one.
However, if you are willing to put in a little effort as well as the time to polish up on a few skills along the way then sit back and enjoy watching a fellow enthusiast rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty as he pulls apart a reasonable Vitara and transforms it into a rugged looking Outbak.
According to the manufacturers website, the Outbak kit can be bought for around 1500 GBP plus the dreaded VAT so the project is quite an affordable hobby for anyone looking to while away the long dark evenings during the bleak British winter. Of course the final cost will include the price you paid for the donor vehicle as well as any fancy bits such as alloy wheels or chrome fittings you bolt on. But if you fix your budget ahead of time and then stick to it you will have no nasty surprises further down the line.
In the movie, Nick shows us how he goes about prepping the donor car. time spent at this stage will reap rewards later on at the finishing stage. Take your time to get things right, remembering the old carpenters saying “measure twice, cut once” and you will end up with a rolling chassis clean and ready for the installation of the frame and fittings. If you have the time and the inclination it is worth cleaning up the parts as you gain access to them as well as rustproofing exposed metalwork as you work through the project.
So with careful preparation and methodical workmanship you should be at the stage where you can take your finished vehicle onto the road. For kit car builders it is always a special moment, akin to the “topping out” of a house, or launching a boat. Enjoy it!
Where To Start…
As always, your first step should 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 perhaps 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.
As well as the fun of completing the task you also have the bonus of a cool, roadworthy vehicle at your disposal, as well as the feeling of achievement as you drive along the road in a vehicle you assembled yourself.