Kit cars are sold and bought as a set of motor parts to be assembled into a fully functional vehicle.
Usually, kit cars include components like bodies, engine, transmission, chassis, etc. But, what exactly comes in a kit car and what exactly does not?
Let’s start with engines.
Do Kit Cars Come With Engines?
Some kit car packages include an engine but it will typically be purchased separately. Other major components like the mechanical parts, the transmission, etc. will also have to be purchased separately.
Here’s exactly what you need to know!
What Kind Of Engines Are Used By Kit Cars?
So, the build has begun, but what’s going to power your brand new beast?
The personality, performance, and overall tractability of your car largely depends on the engine selection. There are important factors that generally affect the choice of your engine, such as your personal preference, your budget, your torque targets, and engine horsepower.
But before all of that, research is important. You must first determine the best engine package that would fit in your car perfectly and work in perfect sync with internal applications.
Your chosen kit must be compatible with the transmission and engine combo you intend to purchase.
As well as the motor mounts and other modifications.
It’s hard to find engines that were specially manufactured for kit cars, except the Climax FWE and the Lotus-Ford Twin Cam. These engines were specially made for the Lotus Elite and the Elan respectively.
However, based on market review, here are some of the best transmission and engine combos for your kit build.
Crate Engines, also known as “turn-key” are complete engines assembled and shipped to the installer in a crate by the manufacturer. Most of these companies, in reality, do home deliveries for these crate engines.
While used Ford small-block and big-block engines are also popular, they’re not users’ first choice. This is mostly because they have been used, rebuilt, and over-utilized beyond their limits, rendering them unusable. Apart from the obvious reasons, they are usually built, thus, requiring expertise.
A lot of kit owners prefer and usually opt for crate engines, not only because it’s more reliable in terms of performance, but also for its convenience and simplicity.
What “turn-key” implies is that nothing else is required by the installer, except to fit the engine into the vehicle, “turn the key” to start, and voila! Ready to drive!
Crate engine suppliers are in a wide variety, such as Mustangs Plus, Roush Engines, World Products, Ford Racing Performance Parts, Edelbrock, Coast High Performance, etc.
Popular Ford Crate Engines
Here’s a selection of great Ford Crate Engine packages;
- 347CI SBF 435HP Crate Engine
- 351CI SBF 350HP Crate Engine
- 347CI SBF 425HP Crate Engine
- 302CI SBF 380HP Crate Engine
- 347CI SBF 450HP Crate Engine
- 363CI 302 Based SBF Stroker Crate Engine
- 347CI SBF 480HP Crate Engine
- 393CI 351W Based SBF Stroker Engine 420HP
- 408CI 351W Based SBF Stroker Engine 450HP
- 427CI 351W Based SBF Stroker Engine 500HP
- 408CI 351W Based SBF Stroker Engine 550HP
- 427CI 351W Based SBF Stroker Engine 575HP
There are also small-block and big-block engines, which are popular among many Ford Cobra owners.
A combination of stock components is required for building small-block engines and many owners opt for quality components like a high-performance set of aluminum heads. The most commonly used premium components include; pistons, forged crank, and rods.
Instead of factory-rebuilt parts, many owners prefer building a stroker combination on an aluminum block or stock cast-iron. It’s not difficult to find a stroker setup that works best for your kit car.
Since stroker combination businesses like Eagle, Scat, Coast High Performance, and a few others offer the best high-quality ones.
Some popular Ford Windsor small-blocks are in the following displacements; 260, 289, 302, and 351. Other popular displacements are Cleveland’s in 351 and 400.
The engine recommended for the Ultima GTR is the popular small-block V8s by General Motor company. Additionally, the most suitable GTR kit car mate for this engine is the Getrag or Porsche transaxles.
The Ford FE engine powers a wide range of Ford passenger cars, and are offered in the following displacements; 332, 352, 360, 390, 406, 410, 427, and 428. FE engines also come in a lot of stroker combinations, like the 434, 445, and 505 displacements.
One of the industry-leading FE engine builders is “Survival Motorsports”, and they offer a variety of services for FE engines, as well as complete engine components.
Some components in a Ford engine, i.e. the 429 engine include; cast-iron cam, a two-bolt main bearing cap, cast-aluminum pistons, hydraulic cam, non-adjustable rocker arms, and forged-steel connecting rods.
Ford’s most notable big blocks are the Cobra jet and the Super Cobra Jet, each featuring high-performing components.
Choosing The Right Engine Block
A lot of kit car owners argue that a crate engine is the most reliable engine money can buy. But generally, for those who may want to build one, a big-block engine is better, more preferred, and has more reliable performance than a small-block engine.
Big-block engines have a lower propensity to malfunction if faults occur while fitting. This is because they have more pre-installed parts than small-block engines. Unlike big-block engines, the components of small-block engines don’t wear out evenly, so replacement costs are usually higher.
The general issue with sub-assembled auto parts is their low compatibility with the model and make of the kit car.
This same issue applies to big-block engines and some may not function well with your car.
Like I said earlier, research should be your best friend so that you can ensure that the transmission system and electronic control unit of your kit car is compatible with the big-block engine. When perfectly compatible and properly installed, the stock engine will perform optimally.
How Much Should I Know About Engines To Build A Kit Car?
Someone with knowledge of how an engine works will have fewer problems – that’s a given. However, basic knowledge about the components of a small-block engine package as well as a big-block engine package may be handy. It will be helpful to you in finding the perfect engine fit for your kit car.
While considering an engine to buy, before making a purchase, contact multiple dealers of both small-block engines and big-block engines to get a quotation.
The quote usually includes detailed specifications of the particular engine type you’re getting quoted for, as well as the cost estimate for installations.
Compare quotes to see which dealer offers you the best deal based on your knowledge level.
How Much Does An Engine For A Kit Car Cost?
The engine for at kit car typically costs around $2,00- $5,000. A used engine for a kit car can be found starting at around a few hundred dollars.
The cost of kit car engines is very dependent on the quality of the engine, particular choice, supplier, and model. But, used engines of great condition are available in various sizes for prices ranging between $100 and $20,000.
Small-block engines are usually cheaper than Big-block engines. There are small-blocks like the “re-manufactured” Chevy, which could be gotten for around the price of $2,000. While a Big-block engine would be gotten for a price range between $1,500 and $5,000. The usual price differences are largely dependent on the manufacturer, model, and year of the original car engine.
However, low costs always come with a catch. For the Chevy small-block engine, you would be needing additional parts and important accessories, such as the alternator, as well as other numerous external parts.
You can find the general costs of kit cars here.
Wanna know about Kit Cars? Check out our other kit car articles.
Here’s What Comes In A Kit Car
Depending on the kit, type of kit car, manufacturer, and vendor, what you’re likely to find in a kit varies. From basic components to those sold by Caterham, which includes everything you need to put together a fully functional vehicle.
Let’s take the Factory Five 33 Hot Rod Kits as an example.
These kits come in three choice sets.
- The first set is the Chassis Kit. This includes the chassis and suspension parts for building the Hot Rod.
- The second set is the Body Kit. It includes the body, trim, and interior for completing the Hot Rod stage included in the first set.
- The third set is a complete kit, and it includes everything from the first and second sets, all in one package.
This allows you to order for either the chassis, body or complete kit.
A kit would be considered complete when it comes with everything you need to build the car, except for a few important mechanical parts which you need to buy separately.
What Do You Need To Buy Separately For A Kit Car?
There are additional parts that are not included in a typical kit package, as follows;
- fuel pump,
- battery, and of course,
- body paint.
The parts listed above could be purchased used or new, but when purchased new and assembled, the kit car, according to EPA, is new.