The Future of Kit Cars

Hey Everyone. As I sit here I cant help but wonder what the future of kit cars is. Especially the ones I grew up seeing in magazines. Some of these cars are 40+ years old, and to us old guys they are still some of the coolest cars out there. But to the younger generation they are odd, ugly, and nothing special. Where did the kit car industry go wrong? Was it just a changing in the times, or a general lack of interest in building something yourself? Sure there are a few companies out there that survived and are turning a pretty hefty profit but most are long gone.

New Kit Car Project

I also recently got to thinking about value. As most of you know the older VW kit cars can be had very little money, but give you years of enjoyment. But why are they so cheap? I have been tracking several sales over some time of popular kit cars and the results are interesting to say the least. Because I was just writing about this on a facebook post I will use the results for the Bradley GT kit car.

I have tracked about 30 or so sales over a period of time . This is just a very crude calculation . It does not take into account if the kit car was a project or a driver, the engine, if it had all the glass (side and rear window in the case of the GT) and so on. Of the 30 cars I came up with an average of sell price of $1600 . I also tracked another handful via our website . This was a “What did you pay” question. That came up with an average purchase price of $1040 . I know these are not end all numbers but it does give you some insight on what the future of kit cars is.

Kar z28 Kit Car 1

All of this shows what I have said for many years. There is just not a very big market for these sort of cars, and they are not all that valuable. This may also explain why we see time and time again someone purchasing molds to “Insert Vintage kit car here ” and is going into production, only to have them fall off the radar or post the molds for sale for some ridiculous amount of money.

Fiberfab Avenger Kit Car Molds for Sale

I get that some of these cars can and do sell for good money but you have to look at the venue. People who are Bradley GT fans seem to point to a single car that was sold several years ago at Barrett Jackson for $9350.00. They forget that Barrett Jackson is full of people with more money than brains. The car iteself was stored for 41 years in a climate controlled warehouse and was so clean you could eat off it. Chances are this car was not being purchased to drive around town daily.

So what do you think the Future of kit cars is? Do you think vintage kit cars can rebound? If they can how do you think we as enthusiasts cant increase value? I have heard a lot of ways from “Not selling them so cheap” to Build Quality. But how do you get a car that the market wants to pay $2500 for sell for $5000 or more?

I would love to see your comment and suggestions below.

4 Responses

  1. Joe Case says:

    I’ve always had an eye for the the things (I owned 8 vw cars/trucks); have been able to get close up looks at some of the high end stuff (Beck, Factory 5, etc.) and I think that ultimately it’s the build quality that haunts the early kit cars. There have to be guys w/ shops that can and do a total build and rescue some of the dinasours. I think one of those would be great to have and could hold it’s value w/ the best of them. If Fast N Loud, Foose, or one of those sort of garages did a couple of them there’d probably be a bump in interest for them.

  2. Kevin Bednarsky says:

    I think the main problem with them is a changing demographic. In my opinion they appeal to a man of a certain age, that grew up looking at the ads in magazines back in the ’70s and ’80s and had their imaginations stoked. These men now have their time and money tied up in homes and familes which hinders the purchase and completion of such a project. Especially when you have to sell it to your wife. It’s one thing to pitch the Mustang convertible you both have always wanted. “What’s an Aquila?”, she says. And by the time you find a suitable picture on an internet search, she’s off on something else. Then there’s the cost and availabilty of the donor cars. Many of the cars that these are based on are no longer cheap or readily available. Old, beat up, good running air-cooled Beetles aren’t $200.00 anymore. So that adds to the total cost of the project. Even the later Fiero based kits are questionable. Just try to find a Fiero these days. Then there’s having to deal with the hassle of missing or non-include pieces that you will have to fab or source. All in all, it takes a unique individual to pony up big bucks for an old kit car.

  3. BigRedRivi says:

    I would have loved to have some captions to go with those photos (never saw a 70’s Camero kit) and perhaps some more photos. Yes kits were some very cool cars like was it the Fiero Ferrari 250GTO??? Alas Ferrari put a stop to that one. Oh well

  4. ferd says:

    I agree with the previous posters, and would like to add that the old kits don’t perform up to the standards that people (especially younger generations) have come to expect. The kits are typically noisy and vibrate and lack the creature comforts and entertainment devices that have been available in new cars for years. Particularly if the kit is based on an old VW Beetle – you end up with a car that is not as nice as a used Honda or Toyota in the same price range.

    Yes you might get over $5000 for a kit car that most people would initially consider paying $2500 for, but you’ll probably have to invest way more than $5000 in upgrades and labor to get there. You might get there by installing a unique drivetrain, such as a battery electric system (since that’s starting to interest the public now). But my experience (working with some folks who have been electrifying old kit cars) indicates that it’s pretty hard to find buyers at the prices you need to get after doing that.

    There is one other niche you might consider – people who want to work on their own cars but find current cars too complicated or needed tools too expensive. Most kit cars are pretty basic since they’re built on relatively simple cars. But still to double the going price your car would have to be pretty nice.

    I’m not sure that there’s much of a collector niche out there. Most of these kits were not extremely popular or lusted after even in their heydays, so there may not be many potential buyers waiting until the day they can get the funds. But if you’ve got one with really good lines and a power / handling package that lives up to those lines then it should eventually gain value. Just hope that you can afford to keep that car nice until that value finally hits your target price.

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