Kit car shows are more than just a great day out, they give you the chance to see many of the latest models as built by enthusiasts, rather than the sanitized glossy photos featured in magazines or the manufacturers brochure.

However, there is so much more to a show and during the course of this article I will try to include many of the main reasons why you should head on over to a kit show, certainly before you decide to assemble a vehicle of your own. OK, let’s get started!

Compare Manufacturers

One of the first reasons to go will be the chance to check out a whole range of different vehicle types and models on offer by many different manufacturers. This is where you can compare not only prices, but also see the quality of the kits with your own eyes. After all, it’s easy to Photoshop out any problems before an image makes the magazine or brochure, yet will show up clearly with a keen eye.

Meet The Manufacturers

Remember that you will be overwhelmed with the number and variety of cars on display so I’m not suggesting for a minute that you need to make a concrete decision about which to buy right now.

However, I’m sure that you will have already whittled down your list of possible candidates to maybe a dozen or less. Now is your chance to get to know the manufacturers of any kits that catch your eye.

Don’t underestimate the value of this step. After all, as you assemble a kit, the manufacturer will usually be your first port of call when it comes to potential problems or advice. If you find that you simply don’t get on with the manufacturer or discover that they are less than forthcoming with support then it is better to discover this BEFORE you commit to buying their product!

In my experience, most kit suppliers are actually keen motoring enthusiasts who are very proud of their machine and you will find them extremely approachable.

Talk To Owners

With so many completed vehicles on display it makes sense to chat with the owners who, after all, have been in the exact position you are in now regarding vehicle choice and potential hurdles along the way. Not only are they experts in putting a car together to the very highest standard, they are also brutally honest and will let you know just what you are letting yourself info without the sugar coating!

Take a look at their vehicles. A good look. Notice the standard of craftsmanship as well as the quality of the actual kit. Remember, building a car from kit is a partnership of your handicraft skills and the manufacturers parts quality. Pay particular attention to the little things such as frame welds or the finish of the dashboard as these are things you will have to live with when you put your own car on the road.

Check Out Costs

While your walking around each of the manufacturers stands, jot down any prices you see. Make a brief list of what each stage of the build is likely to cost you so that you can put aside a realistic budget when you finally make the leap into kit car ownership. Pay attention to what is included and often more importantly, what is missing from the kit and the price you have in your notebook.

Also remember that many suppliers provide kits in stages as they know their buyers put together a car over a period of months, even years. For this reason alone it is worth making inquiries to assure yourself that the manufacturer will still be around to provide the essential parts to complete your project. While many parts are available from a donor car or scrap yard, the kit often contains bits and pieces only available from the manufacturer.

Accessory Suppliers

While I’m on the subject of budget, you will notice a huge number of aftermarket accessory suppliers dotted around the show. From seat covers and upholstery to all manner of shiny bits and bobs, it’s far to easy to be attracted by all the extras you can bolt on to your newly assembled pride and joy. It is also far to easy to blow huge chunks of your budget on parts that seemingly add little to the finished car so make sure you get your priorities right from the start to avoid costs spiraling out of control.

Fun Day Out

While there’s a very serious side to attending, it’s also just a great day out! Many of the top suppliers put on displays that demonstrate just what it’s like to own and drive their own particular model. As you watch the video above, look at how Westfield position their cars as having a sporty wide side as the driver drifts sideways around a tight track. Very Top Gear!

Over at Donington Park they often (but not always) have a track day around the competition quality racetrack. Put your own car through its paces or hire one of the demonstrators and enjoy the thrill of screaming around like Lewis Hamilton. The guys at Dakar provide an off-road experience that shows just how tough and rugged these hardy 4x4s really are.

My suggestion is to enjoy all the fun of the kit car shows as you gather as much information as you can for your next project. Take a notebook, pen and camera and make a day, or weekend, of it.