Instant products and ready-made items are a big hit today. Everybody uses it and everybody can have it. It requires less effort, less time, but it gives no thrill and excitement like creating something yourself will give you. Creating or building something with your bare hands gives you a very rewarding experience. Especially when it involves something you are very passionate about – like cars. While you can’t build your own car literally from scratch because it requires a lot of work, machines, and finances – plus the legalities, you can build a kit car instead. Kit car is an automobile that is assembled by you, the builder, bought from a manufacturer as a set of parts. Building your own kit cars can be difficult and is a lengthy process, but it is not impossible. It requires patience, perseverance, and commitment. When you manage to finish the task, it will be so rewarding and it will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. You will earn bragging rights for completing something so complicated and meticulous.
Before you start to build your own kit car, learn the details first. Consider what you know and what you need to learn before starting the process. You don’t want to stop somewhere in the middle or when the work becomes difficult for you. Start by researching everything that you can about your project. If you are building a kit car that is based on another vehicle, gather all the information about it. Know what parts you will need, how and where to get them without exhausting all your savings. You might need some special tools too. You have to consider the amount of time, work and money it requires to finish the said project.
Building a kit car may take a while, even longer if you are missing a part or two. So before you get started, prepare a room for it first. You might be spending all of the four seasons there. Prepare your garage by cleaning it, keep it well lit, and make sure there is enough space for the build, space to place the parts while you are building, and some room for you to work around. You might want to add a WiFi spot in your garage. That will come in handy if you need to look up for some information online whenever you’re not sure with what you’re doing. You can add some other things that can make your garage homey as you will be there all the time.
When you get your kit, make sure to read the instruction or manual that comes with it. Some kit car brands offer a kit for making a complete vehicle. With this, you don’t have to look or buy any additional car parts somewhere else. But if what you have requires additional parts and items, you will need to source it elsewhere. To get the parts for a lesser price, you can buy a donor car. Donor cars are usually wrecked cars that are not worth repairing but have decent and usable car parts to salvage. Before buying, check for the parts you need and make sure that they are all working fine. Parts like the brakes, suspension, steering and the controls are some of the things you need to check. All of them should be in good running condition. The exterior look of the car doesn’t really matter for you won’t be using its paint or its body.
Another place you can look for the needed parts is the junkyard. Car parts from the junkyard cost less than buying new ones. Some junkyards charge a small fee upon entering and let you search all the cars there to look for the parts you need. You then pay whatever parts or items you want to take home. Before you visit the junkyard, check the parts that you need. Make sure that you will get the correct item. Do not settle for a single find. It is always a good idea to have multiple pieces of each part that give you options to choose from. Look for any signs of defect, rusts, dents, or leaks. For parts like the starter or alternator, you can bring a circuit tester with you to check it while you are still there. When you’ve gotten what you need, you can then proceed to clean it or paint it to make it seem like new again. There are some junk yards that allow you to return any defective items and allow you to look for a replacement as well. Make sure to know the junkyards rules and warranties – if there’s any, beforehand.
If you can’t find a donor car and don’t have access to a junkyard, you will just have to buy the needed parts from a supplier. You can look online for suppliers. Almost all parts are being sold there. You can buy parts online for a lesser price than buying at a retail store. Make sure to read the reviews and ratings before purchasing anything online as some products might be defective or have deceiving descriptions. If you want to be sure and look at the parts in person, you can go to a retail store. The price might be more expensive, but you can get the parts faster and can inspect it physically before purchasing it. This way, you can also make sure that the item you just purchased is original and not a cheap imitation.
It is already given that when you build, tools are required. For building kit cars, you will need some good sets of tools. If you are buying new sets of tools, don’t be cheap. Invest in the right tools and buy the sturdy ones. While most of the work in kit car building only needs basic hand tools, as you continue, you might need some special tools for a certain job – technical ones that require special tools and skills to get it done. You might need to do some welding or cutting. For tasks like this, it is better to ask help from your friends or people who have the required tools or skills. Remember, you can’t build your own kit car from scratch without any help.
When everything is all set, the long process of building begins. Organize everything from the tools up to the parts of the kit. It is a waste of time to look around for the parts and tools you need for every task. Work your way through it by following all of the instructions. The manual that comes with your kit has very detailed instructions. It even provides pictures and explains the whole process of building. It should be followed thoroughly including the sequence of the tasks. The manual covers the whole process on how to assemble the car’s parts such as the chassis, suspension, powertrain, and so on. If there are any instructions that you can’t understand, you can ask for help from someone who has experience in building kit cars. You can also call your kit car’s manufacturing company and ask for support or you can visit online to get information from the right websites and tutorials that can help you finish your project. One might ask how long it will take to finish one kit car. The answer to that question varies. It really depends on how much time you allot in doing the work. You also have to consider your skills, the model you are building, or the parts you are using.
After all the time you spent building your own kit car, it is understandable you’d want to show it off on the streets. Unfortunately, you need to make it street-legal first. Street-legal means that your vehicle is equipped and licensed to be used legally on public roads without restrictions. The Department of Motor Vehicles in each state is the one that sets the requirements or standards that determine if your car can be made street-legal. The requirements differ in every state. Some are strict with their standards while some are more lenient. There are some things the DMV checks in your kit car. This is done to ensure that every part of your car follows the safety standard that the DMV has set. This includes the brakes, bumpers, emission control system, engine, hood, ground clearance, lights, steering wheel, tires, seatbelts, license plate, windshields, mirrors, and even horns. You also have to convince them that you got your parts legally and that they are not stolen or smuggled. It is advised to keep all of your receipts for proof of ownership. Make sure to record the engine and other major parts’ number on the receipts.
As for the insurance, it won’t be as swift as insuring regular vehicles. It is because insurance companies cannot really assess the value of a kit car by just asking what type of vehicle it is. You will have to give the insurer a breakdown of your car’s specifications as well as what you are using it for. Will it be just for display? Is it for daily use or occasional use? You can opt for temporary insurance if you will make use of it as a seasonal hobby. There are three types of coverage available. There’s Liability Insurance Coverage that covers you if you happen to cause an accident and damage someone else’s property or injure someone. This coverage is required in most states. Second is the Collision Insurance Coverage. This covers you for any damage you cause in an accident and covers your vehicle damage as well if it was caused by a collision. The third one is the Comprehensive Insurance Coverage that covers the damage in your vehicle that is not caused by a collision, such as fire, falling objects, typhoon and theft. If you are using your kit car for racing, you can add racing insurance.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
After all that has been said and done, how much does it really cost? With all the needed preparations, time, skills, time, money, will it be really worth it? There are a lot of factors that determine the real cost of the kit car. The model you choose, the manufacturer, the sourcing of the other needed parts, the tools, and also the supporting system it needs to build it. The average cost of a kit ranges from $500 to $1000. That’s just for the kits that need additional parts to build. When choosing this kit, prepare an extra for the seats, wheels, wraps, tires, and other miscellaneous. You can also choose to upgrade the engine by purchasing new spark plugs, gasket, pumps, belts, pulleys, and other parts. The kit that has the complete parts – one that you just have to assemble, has an average cost of $12,000. However, the prices still vary depending on the model and from what manufacturer. It can go from $6,000 to $50,000. If you want to add more features, you will have to pay more. Also consider the labour costs for the parts that you can’t build yourself and for the tools you bought.
Building a kit car is a challenge. Before you start, make sure that you are 100% up for it. The process will be long and it requires a lot of your time and patience. Then there’s the risk of not getting the outcome you are aiming for. You can either show it off or keep it hidden. Always remember to not give up when the going gets tough. It would be a shame to not finish what you started. If a certain task is too hard to do by yourself, do not hesitate to ask for help. There are also some issues that you will encounter that need you to take a pause, do some research and think hard. Do it. This is not a race. And when all of this is over and you got your kit car working, it’ll be a great accomplishment. Owning a car that you built yourself makes all the hard work worth it.