How Do Kit Cars Work? 13 Important Facts (Before Deciding)

Researching on kit cars? You’ve come to the right article.

We have gathered the information for you to let you know a few important things before you decide whether or not this is something for you.

How do kit cars work?
it cars function like any other automobile. It is in itself an automobile constructed as a set of parts by manufacturers and sold to buyers who then assemble them into a functioning car. The major mechanical systems like the engine are usually gotten from similar cars or bought from other vendors.

Here’s everything you need to know about kit cars!

Kit cars differ from each other; some are simple, while some are complex. But, the kit car must have all the necessary components to turn into a fully operational vehicle.

The Kit car has a particular body referred to as a re-bod. A re-bod kit car is designed by vehicle manufacturers with a new body (particularly a fiberglass body). 

The uniqueness of a kit car stems from the fact that the chassis and mechanical system of the car have already been fully constructed and tested by an expert automobile manufacturer. Thus, making it safe, reliable, and durable.

Among the things that come in a kit package…

Do Kit Cars Come With An Engine?

A kit package comes with everything you’ll need to construct the car except the engine. You’ll have to make additional provisions for the transmission, wheels and tires, rear end, fuel pump, battery, and paint. 

Note that you have to conduct research or contact your kit car manufacturer to ascertain the kind of engine that is best suited for your kit car. For example, engines best suited for the Factory Five MK4 are the Ford 390/427/428 big-block engines and the Ford 4.6 and 5.0 coyote engines. 

When you buy and use any other type of engine, apart from these mentioned for the example cited, it wouldn’t perform optimally nor yield the kit car of your dreams.

Now that we’re talking about performance, let’s check out speed issues. Because we all know that the Kit car is not only admired and wanted for its beauty, but also for its speed. 

Also read our article on How much do Kit Cars Cost?

How Fast Can Kit Cars Go?

The speed of a kit car largely depends on the quality of the engine, its model, and what you make of it. 

Kit cars like the Caterham 7 160, which runs on a three-pot 660 cc turbo engine by Suzuki can accelerate up to 60 mph in 6.91 seconds.

Caterham 7 620 runs on a top speed of 155 mph and can hit up to 60 in 2.79 seconds. 

The Factory five GTM-R can sustain a speed of 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. And let’s not forget the UltimaGTR720, which is not just fast, but the fastest car in the world. It is capable of a speed of 0-60 mph in 2.6 seconds and a top speed of above 230 mph (370 km/h). Isn’t that wonderful? 

But, can just about anyone assemble a kit car? How difficult is it? I mean…

Do Kit Cars Come With Instructions?

It seems complicated right? Don’t get worked up yet. Kit cars surely do come with instructions. The kit car manufacturing company, while sending you your kit usually sends along with the kit car, a manual. This manual contains instructions on how to fully assemble the car from start to finish. 

The manual will give you specifications on what parts you’ll need for the construction. Kit cars manufacturing companies like the Factory Five has instructions for every of their kit car design.

Caterham’s extensive manual for their kit cars is also available.

But, that’s not all there is, their kit car assembly guide also comes with a package of a sealed pack of nuts, washers, and bolts. 

Provided you have the right parts, assembling the kit car would be a whole lot simpler. However, if you experience any difficulties, you can always call the manufacturing company for help. You could experience difficulties while constructing the car or the manual may seem difficult to understand (which it does sometimes).

Thankfully, they are always ready to help.

How Difficult Is It To Build A Kit Car?

Some of the difficulties you may experience in building your own kit car is getting the engine in, fitting the rubber trims and weather gear. This exercise can take up to a few months depending on your experience in car assembling. 

Another challenge is in getting it to hit the road which may take quite a while. Companies like Caterham also offers to give the car SVA roadworthiness test, making the exercise a whole lot simpler. 

Well, building your own car by yourself is quite an experience and sure does give a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. Always try to enjoy every step of it and don’t forget you can always call the company for assistance. 

Been thinking of owning a kit car? Here are a few important things you should know first;

3 Major Tips To Know When Deciding To Build A Kit Car

You’ve known how a kit car works and the requirements for building one, now, here are a few tips on what you need to bear in mind when deciding to build your own kit car.

Buy Smart

Buying smart and responsibly is one of the most important decisions to make when planning to build your kit car. Make intelligent decisions on your choice of kits and other body parts. Always ascertain the durability and reliability of what you want to buy before paying. 

There are so many kit cars out there to choose from, some come with all the complete parts you’ll require, while some others are incomplete requiring you to purchase the rest by yourself. So if you want your building process to be a lot simpler, try to be smart about your choice of kits.


Kit cars like every other car require a well-detailed plan. Make plans on when you are going to start building, where you’re going to build it, the tool you’ll need to build it, what kind of kit you’ll require to build. 

Also, factor in the shipping cost and don’t forget the equipment necessary for moving the car if need be. Put into consideration your final build, how heavy, light and spacious you’ll like it to be. 

The kind of kit car you’re building will definitely determine the type of tools you’ll be needing. For example, while an MK4 roadster weighs about 2,380 Ibs, the Hot Rod weighs about 2,150Ibs. 

Be sure to factor in the kind of car you want to build and plan accordingly, so you don’t experience setbacks in the process.


Do not start your kit car project expecting to complete it in a few days. It’s nearly impossible to build a kit car overnight. Building a kit car takes time, some kit cars require 3 months to 2 years to complete. 

Be patient and plan a target that is achievable for you at each phase. Don’t put yourself under pressure, take your time, enjoy the building process and be proud of your final build. After all, you built your dream car with your own two hands. 

For those that are new to the game, here are some recommendations.

Best Kit Cars For Beginners

For your first kit car, I’d recommend a GTM, with a basic mini running gear. They are quite easy to build, they work excellently, and they’re cheap as well. Budget is a major factor in making a choice of your kit car and if money is tight and you still want something bigger, then the Ford Cortina and Ginetta G27 come straight to mind. 

I wouldn’t advise anyone to start building a kit with less than $12,000, considering the cost of taking the IVA test, retests, fixes and all, and also the cost of getting an adequate toolbox for the build, if you do not already have one. 

Also, attending kit cars shows or joining a kit car club will also be helpful and will afford you the opportunity to see different kit cars before making a choice. 

How Long Do Kit Cars Last?

There is actually no way to tell how long your kit car can last without maintenance here and there. But, what is definite is the fact that regardless of the best maintenance, once or twice, a major part will need to be fixed. 

Kit cars, just like other cars have an average life span of 8 years or 150,000 miles provided it was constructed with the right and strong parts like the engine. While some are more durable than others, some can last up to about 15 years or more if maintained properly. 

If you have all of these figured out, the next thing on your mind should be figuring out if you can actually legally take it for a spin on government roads.

Are Kit Cars Legal?

Wouldn’t we all like to know? 

In 2015, a bill was passed on the 4th of December to be precise. This bill granted right-to-sell permission to the manufacturers of Kit cars. So, if kit car geeks desire, they can purchase one. But, if not, they’re still allowed the DIY privilege of building one themselves.  

For a long time, there were no separate regulations for low-volume kit car manufacturers. Such manufacturers were subject to a single multi-purpose regulatory framework. 

Thankfully, those days are gone.

Low volume kit car manufacturers no longer need to adhere to this regulation. Particularly one that was suitably coined for large-scale mass-producing kit car manufacturers. The law now establishes separate regulations for them. 

Since 2015 modern cars are different from archaic older ‘30s models, the lawmakers adopted an approach that regards the kit car as automobile equipment.

More so, the law was geared towards preserving America’s automotive heritage both locally and across the world. Including creating more job opportunities for citizens. 

The law also addresses the realities of the supply-demand chain. That is; where there’s a very large base of vintage enthusiasts and a very limited supply of vintage cars. 

Special Requirements To Know About

Now, before hitting the road with your kit car, you should ensure that you’re in right standing with the law. The first and most important consideration is a registration number (special plates in some cases) and an insurance cover.

For your kit car can qualify as kit-built, all its parts must be new and from a single manufacturer. 

In a kit conversion, the vehicle already exists, and the kit parts are added to make it look significantly different from the original appearance. A kit conversion could simply involve no other changes other than putting a new body on a car’s chassis. 

A radically altered vehicle doesn’t require kit parts to change in appearance; just a change of body paint is enough to qualify the car as radically altered. 

In both cases (kit conversions and radically altered cars), depending on the number and type of original parts that were retained, such an owner may be able to keep the car’s original registration. 

As for cars that have been issued a ‘Certificate of Destruction’, there are special rules provided by authorized treatment facilities for scrapped cars. So, if your kit car is made from used components of a scrapped vehicle, the original car registration number won’t cover your road trips.

What About Race (Kit) Cars?

Unfortunately, not all legal kit cars are street-legal. Some kit cars are meant for the race tracks only. To get your race (kit) car street-legal, they have to be specially made. Some manufacturers, like California-based company – “Street Legal Race Car”, offer a street-legal version (the Ford FF200), which, including the engine cost, is priced at $85,000.

Do Kit Cars Have To Pass Emissions?

Of course, kit cars are also motor vehicles and are subject to all emission regulations under the clean air act. The EPA Form No 3520-1 must be filed at the port of entry. Particularly in a situation whereby a complete imported kit is not certified by an EPA certificate of conformity for an original equipment manufacturer.

The kit car must be imported by an ICI (independent commercial importer) who is certified to import Kit and Replica cars.

The ACI must see to it that the kit car complies with all applicable laws on emission.

If your mind is made up after reading this article, check out our article on kit car prices so that you can budget wisely. Enjoy your ride!

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