The Good Ole Days of Kit Cars.

. The good ole days of kit cars. Why is it that the North American kit car market is dominated by Cobras, Ferrari, and Lamborghini’s? Sure, they’re pretty cars, but are they really what kit cars should be?

The Good Ole Days of Kit Cars

If you read a kit car 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.

The Good ole day of kit cars

A production car, even an exotic is deigned 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 individual 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, kit cars 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. Kit cars 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?

Fiberglass Kit Car Business for Sale

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 web page gets, there is a market for original Kit Car designs but very few companies are offering them. Or are The Good Ole Days of Kit Cars dead and gone? What are your thoughts.

Also check out our list of why kit cars, and reasons not to buy a kit car.

2 Responses

  1. Charley Hansen says:

    I agree. Replicas never excited me. As time has gone by unusable performance has become less important to me. On the other hand, uniqueness has become more important.

    I think the kit car industry has suffered the fate of most “mom & pop” businesses. Big Box stores with their mass marketing and inexpensive, but fair to excellent quality, goods have driven them out. Couple that with the general population’s fading general interest in cars and a kit car startup is going to struggle.

    When I go to car shows I see a lot of restored or resto mod 50s, 60s and 70s cars. Also a lot of billet/chrome hot rods. Usually owned by an older white male. The younger crowd seems to be more into “tuner” cars which now include some US made cars. Still mostly male but at least other races are represented. The folks in the middle are busy working, raising kids, paying a mortgage, etc. Most of them just buy a new performance car if they can. A lot of great choices in new cars. The “big box” effect…

    I think kit cars have been replaced by rat rods. A lotta work, fair amount of skill and creativity, and some but not much money, and you have a unique fair weather vehicle. I think they have about the same market penetration that kit cars had in the 70s and 80s.

    If I had the space I’d be building a rat right now. Trying to convince myself I have the space to do a refresh on a completed kit car. With the Internet a small group has a much better chance keeping kit cars alive than when they were new.

    The single biggest issue that I think needs to be addressed is why are there so many unfinished kits? Most of the kits I see for sale were originally purchased in the heyday of kit cars, the 70s and 80s. Many of them are almost finished. Why did the original owner stop? Many of the follow on owners never even started. Why is that?

    Cobras are the exception. There are always a few at car shows and they look nice. There are several sold through Ebay and they bring good money. Cobras are cool but they are way over represented as completed cars. It’s not because they are inexpensive. I don’t think an individual can do it for less than $15-20K. And that’s with a LOT of work. Are the kits that much easier? Is it a more committed/stubborn group of builders? Is it the belief they’ll get their money back when it comes time to sell?

    We’ll see how many line up to buy new Sterling kits at $15K only to sell them for $1-3K as unfinished projects.

  2. Roger says:

    I think the kit cars from the 60’s & 70’s with their unique designs are the best. Being a big VW fan I have always gravitated toward them. Even the ugly ducklings were always of interest to me. I think the reason for so many unfinished projects is because of their low price points. Low prices attract many dreamers who quickly come to realize it still takes time, money and skills to complete the project. So it sits most often in the same state as when they bought it. Or (the deals I look for) they have ordered a few boxes of new parts for their project that will be included in a sale at a greatly reduced price. Ordering parts gives them a sense of working on the project, doesn’t require much skill, all without really getting their hands dirty. I really wish there were more clubs, where guys and girls can get together and help each other finish these projects.

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