They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To.

Untitled-11.jpgWhy is it that the North American kitcar market is dominated by Cobras, Ferarris, and Lamborghinis? Sure, they’re pretty cars, but are they really what kitcars should be?

If you read a kitcar magazine from the early 80’s or older, you’ll still see plenty of replicas, but the market wasn’t dominated by any specific design, and there were also plenty of original creations. Yes, it meant that there were a lot of ugly cars, but there were also plenty of exotics that held their own when put up against any design house from Italy.

A production car, even an exotic is deisng to meet market needs — the company needs to turn around a lot of dollars to break even. A kit on the other hand was usually built around the whims of the indivual designer. They built it for themselves at a minimal cost and made it available to others as a hobby. With a small number of exceptions, kitcars has never been a high-profit industry.

The question is: do you want to own a car that will always be a low-budget copy of a real supercar, that snooty people will always laugh at you for owning? Wouldn’t you rather own an original design, a rare supercar design that you know is far more unique, and far more exotic than any Countach will ever be?  I for one vote for the originals. Kitcars let designers express themselves with cars that would never make it to market in any other way. They allow the public to buy a custom built one-of-a-kind supercar at a reasonable price. Can a Cobra do this?

Most replicas are highly inaccurate when put next to the real thing. Do you really want to be in a situation where you sink $30,000 to finish your car and then get made fun of by every kid that knows what the real thing is? Wouldn’t you rather have a car that no one else in your state has ever even seen?

Judging by the feedback that this webpage gets, there is a market for original designs, but unfortunately the few companies selling them are selling 20 year old designs. Why are there no new ones?

(Originally posted in 1998)

6 Responses

  1. Ryan says:

    I agree…way cooler to have an original. It doesn’t even take a trained eye to spot a lot of “fakes”, even if they are pretty well done. I do make an exception for super-rare cars that would be basically impossible to own without spending millions, since that’s the only way to “drive one”…but copies of a Countach, for instance, almost always look cheap and thrown-together, and even the good ones are still just good for a laugh for the actual owners and a lot of other people. The original designs, on the other hand, will make people do a double take in a GOOD way. A striking design they have never seen before will make people come up and ask you what kind of car it is, something that will rarely happen with a bad replicar.

  2. For example, the way I see it, to build a “convincing” (where it’s going to fool the average person who knows sportscars) Diablo, you’re going to spend $80,000 on a car with no real value or pedigree…. I’ve seen REAL countaches sell for less, and Diablos sell for not much more.

    But with $35,000 invested in an old kit (or even $6,000), you can build something STUNNING.

  3. would you have any more information on the “Phantom” (4th Picture down) that is a real cool looking car. I would be interested to see what it would take to build one.

  4. Harley says:

    I think the only reason to build a replica car is to try to improve on the original, I agree that just building a copy is a bit of a set up for failure,as you said the snooty rich guy with the original is delighted to point out your vain attempt to copy what you cannot afford to buy, however,there is great pleasure in building a replica that can smoke the original,be driven anywhere, and for less money. I guess why replicas are the more common kit type cars is because they are the designs that are widely accepted by the general public,and when you see the factory built car you have a better vision or dream of what your car should look like, the body is only one component, even if you perfect it, the rest has to live up to the original,that is hard to do using substandard suspension and driveline.It does take planning, time, and money,if you are missing any of the previous 3 items your success will be limited.

  5. FRC says:

    What’s the last car? “Vision IV”. Any more info about it?

  6. Jerry Magorian says:

    The 818 from FactoryFive is a good example of original design.

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