Building a Kit Car

What could be cooler? Not just another mass-produced ride (how many times have you seen more than one Vette at a stop light?), but something that expresses you in car form, something you built with your own hands. Whether you’re into the classic thing, the vintage look, the race car image, or the truly unusual, you can find something out there to satisfy that burning desire, and the best thing is that you can trick it out so that it’s truly your personal ride. Sweet!

Why go to such lengths for a cool ride? For most it is too much trouble. It’s not like building a plastic car model from a kit, or putting the kid’s go-cart together at Christmas. The less mechanical knowhow you possess, the more you are going to have to rely upon others, and many of those relationships could cost you some major bucks. Also, any significantly involved kit will not be a one weekend project, so you’ve got to have the perseverance to keep after it. If you know you’re the type that gives up easily, or you require instant gratification, save yourself the trouble and go with a turnkey version.
How do I get started, you ask? You’re going to need space to work in (don’t make the mistake of crowding yourself on this one), you’re going to need a good set of tools to work with—not necessarily the more exotic stuff like wire welders, plasma cutters, etc. Those can be rented, or maybe even borrowed from a friend. But you will need a good set of serious tools. Be prepared to spend enough of your free time to severely tax the patience of your significant other—unless you’re lucky enough to both be motorheads. Be prepared to make mistakes and have to take something apart that you assumed would fit perfectly. Many kits will require different levels of fitting to make them come out right. DON’T RUSH THE DETAILS! Remember, the really hard part, i.e., fabricating replica body panels, has already been done for you. The finished product will reflect exactly how much care and attention you put into it. We’ve all seen the sad final product of someone who’s rushed a job. Not pretty.
So where do I buy a kit? The kit car industry has grown and grown over the past few decades. Some marks have come and gone, but the worthwhile designs usually stick around or get picked up by someone else. Between the Internet and the newsstand, you should have no trouble getting started on your shopping, but do yourself a favor. When you start to narrow your search down, start Googling hard for any info that you can get from the various manufacturers, chat sites, reviews, etc., about the kit you want and the company that manufactures it. Like everything else in life, some things are better than others. If you’re up to making your own dreams come true, as the great man said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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