Are Kit Cars Worth It? Depreciation & Common Problems

Kit cars make bold statements, bring the builder a sense of accomplishment, and functions like a beast. But in the end, is it all it’s cracked up to be? Are there things you should know first? Let’s dig deep into what they don’t tell you.

Are Kit Cars Worth It?
Kit cars are great if you have the patience and technical know-how it takes. It’s important to think about whether the build will be street legal before you start in order to make it work.

Since there’s no straight answer, the following sections should help you make up your mind.

Let’s start with how well kit cars hold their value.

Do Kit Cars Hold Their Value?

High-end factory built cars that were built to an objective standard can be resold at a predictable value.

Examples of such cars are Kirkham, Shelby American, and Superformance.

Another reason why such cars are so predictable is; these companies produce new cars at a consistently set price. Thus, making it a lot easier for the value to be measured.

On the other hand, owner-built cars are a whole other story, as their prices are the opposite of stable and consistent.

Reselling such owner-built cars is dependent on so much price variables. The most influential of them are the build quality and type of parts used.

It also depends on the make of the car and its market demand. For instance, the old used ERAs still hold their values quite well after all these years.

As factory-built cars remain stable, used ones in some cases may become stable, and in other cases, appreciate.

However, cars like the Factory Five cars usually continually depreciate until they level just above the price of a kit and qualify as lower-end kit builds.

Check out our article about some important facts on Kit Cars & Instruction Manuals

How To Help Your Kit Car Hold Its Value.

If you want your car to hold its value, you should consider building it using high-end paint/bodywork. Also consider high-quality components, as against an averagely built car using a donor vehicle.

Ultimately, the value of a kit car largely depends on the market value.

Such as what a finished car costs in comparison to how much you spent to build one by yourself.

If you spent a lot of money buying components for a kit car that you one day plan on selling, you should be ready for a loss when you eventually sell it. Since kit cars are not cars that are bought and built for sale and profit, but for personal usage, that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s just so you keep it in mind.

Here’s a scenario; buying a quality-built Cobra replica won’t cost you too much loss when you eventually sell years later. Especially if you got it at a bargain price.

However, buying a brand new Cobra will cause you to experience a grave loss when you resell.

FFRs and other kit Cobra replicas like the Shell Valley usually cause the biggest loss. Especially when it’s being sold by the original owner/builder. Keep your eyes peeled for owners who want to sell a great car out of financial distress – those are the best deals ;).

If you need a build with a more stable value, you should try these options; Kirkham, Shelby, Superformance, or Backdraft. Kit cars are not cars that usually appreciate. Although, with proper care and maintenance, the value on your kit could be relatively stable.

Also read our article on Are Kit Cars Street Legal? Rules Explained

Are Kit Cars a good investment?

Whether or not they’re a good investment depends on the particular buyer. Including what it was bought for, and the amount of satisfaction such an owner got from the vehicle.

As the saying goes; a kit car is a buyers’ market.

How Well Do Kit Cars Last?

The longevity of a kit car, like many other issues with kit cars, is dependent on a variety of factors. Mileage is not the only longevity indicator.

A kit car owner that drives a lot may have thousands of racked up miles.

However, a kit car owner who may have racked up way fewer miles may have other problems like dry rubber parts or fading.

Like any other car, regular maintenance and occasional part replacements are some of the demands that come with running a functional kit car. When the kit car has reached the 10-year mark or the 150,000-mile mark, parts like the alternator, radiator, shocks, and so on would require new replacements.

Bear in mind that even with the best of maintenance, it’s highly likely that a major part in the car may fail before the calculated time.

It’s difficult for your kit car to remain problem-free, especially when you’re using it on borrowed time.

Borrowed time is activated when the usage of your vehicle has exceeded 200,000 miles.

4 Factors To Prolong Your Kit Car Life Expectancy (And Mileage)

1. Check your driving.

Sometimes it’s not about the car, it’s about the driver – you! To reduce the stress on your vehicle, you must check your driving and adjust accordingly.

Be mindful of the area in which you’re driving and the applicable road and traffic regulations.

This is so that you don’t hit the brakes suddenly in a traffic situation or when approaching stoplights and stop signs. Because this will wear out your brakes. And, so that you don’t stress your tires and rims out by forcefully hitting a speed bump or ditch.

Another thing to avoid is heavy acceleration.

When the engine is cold and you step hard on the gas pedal, it could cause the head gaskets to fail.

2. Learn a thing or two about how car engines work.

One way to wear out your engines fast is to overload it with multiple things working at the same time. For instance, when you start your vehicle, you should let it sit for a while before driving.

Secondly, you should drive for a minute or two before turning on the heater or air conditioner.

This is one area where drivers are careless. I’ve seen situations where car owners leave the heater or air conditioner running – whether or not the vehicle is on. And, whenever the vehicle does come on, the heater or air conditioner immediately begins running at the same time the engine is waking up.

Whatever the case, the windshield defroster or air conditioner should be checked every month at least once, regardless of the weather.

This is to ensure that oil is properly circulating through the cooling and heating systems.

3. Pay attention to how you fuel your car.

Certain instructions on fueling are provided in the maintenance manual of your kit car, so don’t neglect to check them out. For instance, not all kit cars are designed for premium gas, some are designed for regular. So, apart from an obvious waste of money, you could be doing your car more harm than good.

The wrong kind of fuel could cause carbon to build-up in the combustion chambers. Secondly, the amount of gas you’re riding on shouldn’t drop below the quarter level of the tank.

This can cause condensation and could practically damage the fuel pump.

Once the gas nozzle clicks off, don’t stubbornly force fuel down your gas tank. You could be harming your car by trying to even out the amount of fuel you put into your car or trying to maximize your fuel points. The evaporative emission canister will be damaged. This could cause the “check engine” light to indicate an urgent need for repairs that bore deep financial holes.

4. Always stay alert.

What is the usual life expectancy of the major parts of your kit car?

For your kit car to last longer, you should put the life expectancy on your maintenance calendar.

Then, be ready to replace it with new parts once this time is due. Waiting for those parts to fail before you replace them is not just bad for your car but life-threatening as well.

Ones 7,500 miles have been reached, tires should be changed. Depending on what’s on your manual, batteries are to be tested annually. While oil and other car fluids should be changed as regularly as possible.

Can Kit Cars Be Used Every day?

new car: woman driving her new bulletproof truck

Well, there’s no particular reason why kit cars can’t be ridden every day, except for weather considerations. In the winter/autumn months, there could be corrosion of the car chassis.

Another problem would be whether or not the vehicle is practical for everyday use.

Many kit car designs come without roofs, while many others do (at a higher price).

If you plan to use your kit car daily, a bike engine would serve you better (even though it’s not the overall best option). Also, waxoyl should be frequently used on the chassis.

If you do opt for the bike engine car, you should ensure that it’s a properly built engine to avoid oil starvation issues. Bike engines are not flat sitters, and while driving on some roads, the oil flows over to aside.

This could cause starvation in the engine.

A baffled sump or dry sump in the engine could prevent this problem.

How Comfortable Is A Kit Car To Drive?

How you make your bed, is how you lie on it. The same ideology applies to kit cars. When built to taste, it’s like a perfectly cooked meal.

Just all the feelings that come when enjoying the fruit of your labor. The first point of comfort comes from the satisfaction of having built it yourself.

The second point of comfort is whether or not you understand the mechanics of the car you’re driving.

This understanding can affect the adjustments you make for more effective driveability. All these factors contribute to the overall comfort of your kit car.

Can Kit Cars Be Used In All Types Of Weather?

Kit cars are great, yes!

But not in the winter.

The snowy season is too drab and wet. It will cause your wipers to fail and frustrate your entire driving experience with misty screens, leaky roofs, and wet seats. All of which can cause a spike in your blood pressure.

You’d also be experiencing leaks in the bulkhead, knee lumps from panel vibrations or lack of room.

And let’s not forget imminent car accidents or death. Somewhere and dryer and warmer or similar weather conditions are the ideal best place and time to drive a kit car.

From reviews, the majority of kit car weather issues are the roofs and windows. So, get superior wee-fitted ones.

If after reading and you can handle one of these bad boys, check out this article on how much kit cars cost, so you can begin planning. You can also check out many other of our kit car articles.

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