DIY Kit Cars

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Have you ever dreamed of owning a Shelby 427 Cobra, Daytona Coupe or classic Ferrari, but didn't have the bank to buy one? Though once anathema to many enthusiaists, kit cars have seen a massive surge in quality and prestige in recent years, as even those who can afford the classics they replicate are afraid to drive the expensive real thing on public roads. Kit cars are better than they ever were, and some can even be financed just like a new car.

Pick a Car

  • Perhaps the most difficult thing about building a modern kit car is selecting the right one. Factory Five and Superformance are the two biggest names in today's DIY car market, and both offer excellent replicas of classic Ford supercars. However, there are literally hundreds of manufacturers in the game today, offering everything from Ferrari 360 Modenas built on Toyota MR2 platforms to three-quarter-scale big-rigs built on full-sized Ford truck frames. Pick one.

Donor Car

  • As almost all kits rely on some sort of donor car to contribute all of the major drive-line and suspension components, picking the right one is of paramount importance. Salvage-titled cars are a great way to get all of the parts you need at a discount price. There is a certain contingent of kit car builders that will actually purchase a salvage-titled (wrecked) Ferrari or Lamborghini, and transplant the engine and drive-train into a kit-car replica of the same vehicle. Such transplants blur the lines between a "real" supercar and a "fake" one.

    Of course, another means to the same end is to purchase everything new. Factory Five will hook you up with Roush or Ford Racing to purchase a brand-new engine and transmission, and may also include all of the chassis parts to make the use of a donor Mustang completely redundant. While considerably more expensive, this approach will yield what amounts to a brand new 1967 Shelby Cobra or Daytona Coupe, fully covered by a two-year warranty.

Assembly

  • Assembly times and procedures will vary greatly by manufacturer and the trim level desired. The best kit cars can be assembled in a weekend (after the painting is finished) with little more than hand tools and an engine lift. More obscure kits will require a bit more time and bodywork to make everything fit, and to smooth out the body panels for paint.

    Average build time for a Factory Five Coupe is six weeks' worth of three-day weekends, but most kits take longer. Plan on spending about $2,000 more than the cost of the donor and kit itself for paint, ancillaries, tires, titling and registration.

References

  • Photo Credit Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
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