Don is interested in kit cars and builds. Here he shares some of his research.
Why would anyone in their right mind buy a car in pieces, then spend months (maybe years) painstakingly putting those pieces together, and paying for the privilege? Because if you like tinkering with all things mechanical, there's nothing more rewarding than building and driving your own car.
Some of the kits can be expensive, but there are plenty of cheap kit cars available out there. To save you the trouble of finding them, here is a list of five cheap kit cars. The list is based purely on estimated final build cost.
5. Sylva Spectre $15,000 (£9,000) Final Build
Manufactured by Sylva Autokits Ltd, the Spectre was designed around 2009 to encapsulate the "classic" designs of Motorsport in the 1960’s. This is a lightweight performance kit car based on the Sylva Riot (see below). Virtually any engine can be used in the Spectre, be it car or bike, though the ideal donor vehicle is an MGF. The final build price will be around $15,000 or £9,000.
4. Sylva Riot/R1ot $13,000 (£8,000) Final Build
Another one from Sylva Autokits Ltd, this is not only a cheap kit car, it's a powerful one too. There are two variants, one powered by the Yamaha R1 motorcycle engine called the R1ot (see what they did there?) and the other powered by the Ford Zetec SE engine. The advantage of using the bike engine is that it’s light and powerful, so it obviously gives a better power-to-weight ratio, but of course there's no reverse gear! The Ford Zetec engine allows for a smoother driving and acceleration experience (plus a reverse gear) but is less powerful. Donor components for this kit can be taken from the Ford Fiesta Mk4, which includes the Zetec engine if that’s the option you go for. This has got to be one of the best-value kit cars out there in terms of the performance you get.
3. Vindicator Sprint Mk4 $11,500 (£7,000) Final Build
Vindicator Cars Ltd are well known in the kit car world for manufacturing great cheap kit cars. The Sprint is their most popular range. The only difference between the Mk 4 and the Mk 3 is some revised bodywork. The Mk4 XL (pictured) also has a larger boot space. The donor vehicle for components is the Ford Sierra. Several engines can be used, apart from the one on the Sierra, including the Vauxhall XE and Cologne V6. This is a kit car that that looks good and offers great value for money.
Update: The owner of the car in two of the pictures above has been in touch. This car was completed in 2007, has a Vauxhall 2 Litre XE "Red Top" Engine and is fitted with custom dials made by ETB Instruments in matching yellow and black, plus Cobra seats (thanks for the info).
2. Robin Hood Project 2B $8,000 (£5,000)
Great British Sports Car Ltd (formerly Robin Hood Engineering) is another manufacturer with a reputation for producing reliable, cheap kit cars. The Robin Hood Project 2B kit car is the most popular from this manufacturer. The chassis is made from tubular steel, or "tubey" (2B) for short, and is for people who want to build a roadster on a budget. As the cost suggests, this is certainly a no-frills kit. The donor car is a Ford Sierra (1600cc, 1800cc, 2000cc Pinto) and you should be able to get everything you need from the one car. The Robin Hood company motto is “One kit + one donor vehicle = car on the road." V6 and V8 engines can also be used, as well as motorcycle engines with some modification to the chassis. In terms of price, this has to be number two on the list.
1. Locost $xx
This is the most interesting kit car in the list. Mainly because it isn’t a kit, only a book. For those who don’t know, Locost (low cost) is a generic name that refers to any self-built clone of the Lotus 7 two-seater sports car, based on the book by Ron Champion called Build Your Own Sports Car for as Little as £250. Building a Lotus 7 style car now costs slightly more, but Champion’s book is still used as a plan. Not only do you build the car itself, but you also assemble the kit itself to your own specification. As such, build cost and performance vary, but if you are looking for a cheap kit car, it doesn’t get any cheaper than this.
|Rank||Kit Name||Manufacturer||Cost $ (£)|
Sylva Autokits Ltd.
Sylva Autokits Ltd
Vindicator Sprint Mk4
Vindicator Cars Ltd.
Robin Hood Project 2B
Great British Sports Car Ltd (formerly Robin Hood Engineering)
Mark Zukowski on August 28, 2017:
How would you register such a vehicle
Vazgen Balyezyan on June 09, 2017:
I like to be not normal...
ken on November 15, 2014:
Vw bug body off 1970,considering options,
Insidium on August 04, 2012:
Nice lens, I had no idea a robin hood was that cheep, one of those with a turbo rover v8 would be awsome.
Ryan Palmer from In a Galaxy far, far away on June 13, 2011:
Awesome hub! Although it's not really a kit, for as little as £6000 you can build a replica of the iconic Ferrari 355 out of a Toyota MR2! Great hub, voted up.
Don W (author) on September 19, 2010:
mikenin - Yep. Money, space and time are the key ingredients. Hope you get all three.
Vindicrew - Thanks for the feedback and the info. And congrats on building a great car!
Vindicrew on September 19, 2010:
I own the yellow Vindicator Sprint pictured above and can recommend that you take a look at those as well before buying a Kit Car. They are slightly wider than a Seven giving more cockpit room and are designed with near 50 50 perfect weight distribution for racing. The engine is behind the front wheels not over it and the fuel tank is in front of the rear wheels with the passengers right in the middle giving a much smoother ride than a Seven and less tendency to kick the back end out when cornering really hard!
anmol on September 04, 2010:
robin hood thumbs up!
mikenin from Las Vegas, NV on April 02, 2010:
I can't wait until I have the money, space, and time to try one of these. What a neat idea. I particularly like the Robin Hood Project 2B. That is an awesome little roadster!
Don W (author) on January 10, 2010:
Nicks the Caterham 7 is a great car. Couldn't go on a list of cheap kit cars though because it's not. Would definitely be on a list of best kit cars though.
Nicks on January 03, 2010:
Wonderful looking cars - all, no doubt, producing a 'real' driving experience. Has anyone owned a Caterham 7, which is perhaps the best UK kit car?
Don W (author) on December 26, 2009:
I must admit out of all the cars here, I like the Robin Hood most. Thanks for visiting Glenn.
Glenn on December 26, 2009:
That first Silva, the little red one, looks very much like a Devin kit made in the 60s. The devin C model, was rear engine vw or Corvair.....neat.
cosette on August 30, 2009:
Wow, those are really neat! I like the Sylva Spectre and the Locost. I had no idea such wonderful things existed. Wonderful hub!