Calling all gearheads! Do you love working on cars? How about building one? A kit car is essentially a DIY garage project for the petrolhead looking for cheap, engaging performance. And the best part is… you build it.
Whether you’re seeking an ultra-rare replica, classic hot rod, or track-focused monster, there’s a kit out there for you. Ideal’s got you covered with this list of 8 incredible kit cars guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!
Remember, you can get more Ideal content on our Facebook page!
Factory Five Racing Type 65 Daytona – A Hidden Cobra
If you love classic American race cars, but not their maintenance or gigantic price tag, then you’re in the right place. Our first kit car looks like a snake coiled to strike, with asphalt-tearing performance and incredible value. That $20,000 Civic Si in your driveway wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against the Factory Five Racing Type 65 Daytona.
At auction in 2009, one of the six genuine 1965 Shelby Daytonas sold for $7.2 million! Or, in other words, a small fortune. So, you’re thinking, I’ve got around $20,000, what could that get me? Well, probably half of a new GT500, but that’s just not realistic, especially not when Factory Five Racing is offering a Type 65 Daytona replica for under $22,000.
Now, before you blow a head gasket or order one immediately, remember, this is a kit and it requires assembly. On top of that, you have to source your own powertrain, wheels, and paint. And those things certainly add up.
Either way, it nearly takes Michael Schumacher skills to maintain control of a genuine Shelby Type 65. In 1964, it was clocked over 196 miles per hour down the Mulsanne Straight at LeMans! This museum piece with a 4.7-liter V8, 2,299-pound curb weight, and minimalist tech from 1965, is far from a safe grocery-getter.
Thankfully, Factory Five meets you halfway. Their replica Type 65 is not one in a million but it’s still a looker! It’s also wider, more aerodynamic, and sports a high-tech modern chassis 14 times stiffer than an original. So, negotiating the limit in this car is much easier, and way safer.
The Factory Five Type 65 Daytona is a capable and exciting historic replica. The price for this kit starts at $22,000. I would buy a 5.0 Coyote powertrain for under $10,000, find some wheels, and worry about the paint another day. But that’s just me.
Type 65 a bit too iconic for your liking? Look no further than the Aldino K/O.
Aldino K/O – The Privileged Pontiac
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of the Pontiac Fiero. It looks, well, like a Pontiac, and it’s not much fun to drive either. But, I do like Pontiac’s idea of a small, mid-engined sports car. And boy, did Aldino agree!
Aldino designed a kit both stunningly beautiful to look at and breezy to install. No welding, no chassis modification, unless you want to, of course. Just unbolt those old mangy body panels, bolt on the new ones, and voilà!
Not only does the car look better, but the new fiberglass panels also provide greater structural rigidity. I wish I could say that this kit elevates the Fiero to an entirely different level, but I just can’t. Looks aside, there’s still a Pontiac lurking underneath its distracting fiberglass figure. The interior, suspension, and powertrain remain Fiero. Imagine the confusion when people see your “supercar” get gapped by a V6 Mustang. All show and no go!
In terms of price, a kit will cost you $12,000 and a Fiero. It’s an easy DIY. However, leave your wrench at home, and Aldino can build you one for $36,000. I wouldn’t buy this kit, or a Fiero. But hey, it’s an option!
This next kit car can be driven on the street, the grass, and the beach! What more could you want? Well, a 1970’s Volkswagen Beetle. I can explain. I swear. The Meyers Manx SS has simple charm and incredible versatility.
Meyers Manx Kick-Out S.S. Dune Buggy – Oh, The Places You Could Go!
Lately, 1970’s Volkswagen Beetles are becoming more collectible, and their prices are climbing. Whether it’s because people want to build Meyers Manx dune buggies out of them, or just want a small slice of automobile history, I don’t know. The Beetle is popular, but then again, so is the Manx.
In fact, many Meyers Manx’s were movie cars, driven by stars like Steve McQueen, and Elvis Presley. Thank you very much. Anyways, this kit does require a bit of finesse to install, and you will be cutting up your Beetle to do it.
Owner Bruce Meyers instructs you to completely remove the body, which just bolts off. Then comes the cutting. 14.5 inches to be exact is removed, shortening the frame. And that’s just the beginning. Not the easiest of kit car assemblies, but you can do it! I believe in you!
So, you’ve finished your Manx, what can it do? Well, it depends on which engine you use. One option is a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter Subaru boxer engine good for 0 to 60 sprints in 5.2 seconds.
The S.S. Dune Buggy kit starts at $5,700 and turnkeys are less than $10,000. The Manx weighs around 1,600 pounds, is extremely versatile, and is fun just to look at!
This next kit car should come with bald eagles and a Led Zeppelin vinyl, because it screams muscle, American muscle. Most of us know someone bitten by the hot rod bug, unable to get enough displacement or classic styling. But for $3,500, the Speedway Motors 1927 Track-T Roadster might just leave you searching eBay for more horsepower.
Speedway Motors 1927 Track-T Roadster – A Millennial T-Bucket
Whether you do it to stand out at the car club, or just to drive something special, assembling a 1927 Track-T Roadster is both fun and fulfilling. I bet Henry Ford would be proud seeing modern Americans imitating his work. This kit gives you all the 1927 appeal in a completely modern package.
For just $3,500, you receive a fiberglass 1927 T-body, custom steel frame, and most of the suspension components necessary to roll the chassis. Now BYOP, baby! That’s “Bring Your Own Powertrain”, to be clear.
So, what engines would I recommend? Well, I always say, “Slam a big V8 in that bad boy”, and you could, but Speedway Motors recommends a smaller 4-banger or Chevy V6. What? Why? With a 2.8-liter V6, for instance, it weighs 1,500 pounds and boasts a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
Whoever’s advice you choose to take, the 1927 Track-T is still classic, rear-wheel drive, and affordable. And not to get off topic, but it sort of sounds like what Plymouth did by stuffing a V6 from the Dodge Intrepid in their otherwise super cool, retro-styled production car!
While we’re on the topic of affordability, let’s provide some perspective. If you had one word to describe an Italian supercar what would it be? Probably not affordable. But, UK-based company Parallel Designs begs to differ. Their kit is called the Torero, and even Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni seems to appreciate it.
Parallel Designs Torero – Britain’s Raging Bull
Close your eyes and imagine a Lamborghini Diablo, what do you see? Hopefully it’s a gorgeous Italian stallion capable of turning heads, corners, and bank accounts upside down. Now, feast your eyes upon what Parallel Designs has come up with. Looks expensive, right? But, despite its striking looks, there’s no Lambo-like price. How is that possible?
Well, for starters, you aren’t paying Lamborghini to assemble your car, you’re the factory. So, better start treating your welder and instruction manuals really nice!
Did I mention it could have a V12 engine? This 5.0-liter V12, however, is neither Italian nor reliable, but it’s got a decent soundtrack. That’s right! I’m talking about the M70 engine made by BMW. Found in the 850i and the 750i built from 1987 to 1996, it made only 295 horsepower at a depressing 5,200 RPM redline. And, in traditional BMW fashion, that’s only when it works. The more common choice of motor for the Torero is a Rover V8. It’s got two less cylinders but some versions can make up to 340 horsepower.
What’s it like inside? Sitting in a Torero isn’t unpleasant, but it’s not the hand-stitched Italian leather found in the Diablo. Yeah, Diablo all the way, baby! But hold on a second, before shelling out a couple hundred grand for one, a Torero costs a lot less.
A rolling chassis will set you back around $5,176, but want a bigger project? You’ll save a few bucks, but a basic chassis costs $3,155. The average cost to build one of these stellar kit cars is around $38,000. Want a turnkey? Double that number. You’ll feel better knowing a 2001 Lamborghini Diablo VT costs $350,000, or almost five turnkey Toreros.
So, in my opinion, the Parallel Designs Torero is a great replica of a Lamborghini Diablo, but if you park next to an actual Diablo, expect to be roasted.
But what if you want to do the roasting? Built on a C5 platform, this next kit car is a true racetrack ripper! The Factory Five Racing GTM is ballistic.
Factory Five Racing GTM – Ballistic in a Blink
Okay, so you’ve got a C5 in your driveway, C6 in the garage, and your eyes on a C7! And you’re thinking, Should I sell the C5, spend some extra cash, and go a little bit faster in a newer ‘Vette? Possibly, but with a kit, you could transform that C5 into a unique and brutal track monster. Plus, it’s cheaper than buying a C7 or many of its competitors.
So, pick up that phone, I think it’s time that you made a phone call. But it won’t be to Chevy. Factory Five Racing is no stranger to speed, so when they get their hands on a C5, the results are truly exciting. Around corners, grip levels are ridiculous. 1.05 G’s on street tires! Straight line speed is also brutal, going 0 to 60 miles per hour in a brief 3.2 seconds. that’s a tenth-second quicker than a 2012 Ferrari 458 Spider!
The GTM is powered by an LS6 V8 producing 405 horsepower. And yes, it is the same 5.7-liter found in the C5 Z06. That power is then transferred to the rear axles via a custom or Porsche 911 transaxle. 911 and Z06 parts? Match made in heaven!
And what’s the price? The GTM supercar kit starts at $25,000 and contains just about everything you need to get on the road. Well, besides a powertrain and numerous C5 suspension pieces. But find an LS6 and decent C5 for cheap, and you’ve set yourself up for success.
Factory Five Racing hit the nail on the head with the GTM. It’s automotive bliss around corners and down straits, glued to the road the entire time. It’s easily worth every penny.
For our next kit car we don’t even have to leave the track. Right across pit lane, we’ve got something with 200 horsepower-per-tonne and capable of stopping from 70 miles per hour in a gut-wrenching 145 feet, only 10 feet further than a 2018 Huracan Performante. Caterham’s Super 7 R400 can seemingly defy physics, but should you buy one? Yeah, you should.
Caterham Super 7 R400 – Proper Speed
The Caterham boys in Crawley, United Kingdom have been busy. And the Super 7 R400 is the fruit of their labor. It’ll take you to and through the next corner faster than you thought possible. Weighing in at only 1,240 pounds, the best way to describe an R400 is raw.
It’s got inboard front suspension and fully independent double wishbone at the rear, no roof, just roll cage, and a backseat that got Ctrl-Alt-Deleted. For the R400’s backbone, Caterham uses a Lotus 7 chassis.
What you see is what you get with the R400, a featherweight, razor-sharp, and focused kit car. A turnkey Super 7 R400 starts at around $35,000. But, after your first corner, you won’t care. Its 2-liter four-banger makes 210 horsepower and slays 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds! If you don’t mind less power, the basic kit includes a 105-horsepower motor for under $15,000. The Caterham Super 7 R400 is a proper blast to drive!
Next up, we have the last kit in this article. It would be unfair not to mention this gorgeous replica of a prolific early-1970’s rally car. The Lancia Stratos HF.
LB Specialist Cars STR – Driving Dreams
True rally fans remember the Alpine A110, Audi Quattro S1, and of course, the Lancia Stratos HF. If you’ve fallen in love with the Bertone styling, or Dino Ferrari V6, the number of zeros on its price tag will soon bring you back to reality.
Unless, of course, you buy it as a kit. And that’s where LB Specialist Cars stole my heart. Starting from scratch, the STR’s modified space frame monocoque is built from the ground up. Designed with functionality and safety in mind, the STR wasn’t built to be a priceless replica, it was made to be driven.
With aircraft-grade billet aluminum uprights and Nitron coilover dampers, you ride on rails. Four-piston calipers on each corner keep things tidy and semi-legal. What makes it go fast? LB Specialist suggests either a 2.5-liter Alfa Romeo V6 producing 170 horsepower, or for those with more cash, a supercharged 3.5-liter Toyota V6 producing over 350 horsepower. These engines are found in the Alfa 155 and new Lotus Evora.
Now, on to the elephant in the room: price. I know when I mentioned aircraft-grade, Nitron dampers, and Lotus, you were probably thinking, That’s definitely not cheap. And technically you’re right, but it’s worth it.
Want to buy a genuine Lancia Stratos? You’re looking at a $500,000! And even if you got it like that, there are only 492 examples worldwide! That said, building a LB Specialist STR costs $35,000 to $65,000. You can always find a 911, or an M3, but something that looks just like a Stratos is truly special.