There’s a popular saying among car enthusiasts: “Built, not bought.” But, usually, that just means you slapped some bolt-ons under the hood of your Civic. The cars on today’s list, though, are actually built, built by you in your garage. And the best part is that they’re way cheaper than an equivalent supercar.
Stay tuned, because we’re coming at you with 8 cheap kits that you can build to chop supercars every day of the week.
Now, we already did a kit car video. So, if you think we missed your favorite in this article, such as the Factory Five GTM, be sure to check there first before hitting us in the comments. In this second installment, we wanted to make sure we had a good variety of cars. So, no matter what your budget or style is, there’s something for you on this list.
K1 Attack – VTEC Assault
Let’s start with the K1 Attack, which is basically the ultimate MR2. Starting with the basics, it’s mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, and it absolutely rips with a 0-to-60 time in under 3 seconds. Plus, just look at those doors. Do you think the Ideal R8 needs doors like that? Let me know.
One of the really cool things about the K1 kit is that they are incredibly versatile. Since K1 is a new company that uses ultra-modern manufacturing techniques, they can basically send you a kit that accommodates whatever donor car you have laying around, from Civics, to BMW 335s, to harnessing the power of Tesla itself.
I think this car is the best value on the list because almost everyone knows where they can get an old Civic Si for cheap. All you need to do is pick one up, add in the $10,000 kit, and you’ll be driving fender-to-fender with any Lotus that dares show its face.
Or, if you want, you can relive history and build one of the coolest Porsches ever: the 917
RCR 917 – Rule Maker
This isn’t the first or the last time we’ll talk about the absolutely legendary Porsche GT car, which was so fast in the 1970s they literally had to change the rules of racing or else no one could compete. But, well, a real one will set you back more than $10 million. Keep that in mind when I tell you about the price of these stunning DIY replicas from RCR, which are faithful recreations of the original with one major difference: they’re street legal.
Yeah, you heard right, if you have the wrench skills, you could be picking up your date in a legendary race car. I really, really want one. Now, I’m going to assume you don’t just have a 1,200-horsepower Porsche V12 laying around, so you’ll need to source a powerplant to go with your kit.
Race Car Replicas, or RCR, recommends picking up an LS from a Corvette donor, or a water-cooled flat-six from a 911 to keep it light and fiesty. The only question is do I steal the heart from the 997 or the 996. At $48,000, they’re a little expensive, but you have to compare it to the cost of the experience: $50,000 or $10 million.
Cannibalizing a nice 911 seems like a waste. So, well, do you have a Miata laying around instead?
Bauer Catfish – Nice To Miata You
No, we’re not talking about the Exocet, although those are really cool. This one is the Bauer Catfish. It’s also a Miata underneath, but the similarities kind of end there since the Bauer Catfish has a sculpted composite body that allows it to slip through the air and shaves more than 600 pounds off the weight, which can make them lighter than the Exocar.
So, are they fast? Hell. Yes. Are they cheap? For a supercar slayer? Absolutely. They come in at about $14,000, which is about a dollar per pound.
Miata track cars are tame, though. How about something insane to drive?
Ronart W152 – 12-Cylinder Masterpiece
The Lotus 7 is an amazing car but, well, it’s a little overdone. Instead, Ronart took all the design cues from the classic ’50s Formula cars and created their own modern interpretation of it that they call the W152. What does a modern interpretation mean? Well, disc brakes, for one, and the option to use either a smooth inline-six, which you don’t want, or the 300-horsepower Jaguar V12, which is a ton of horses for a car that only weighs about a ton.
Honestly, though, while this will outrun any of its contemporaries, much like the modern Super Sevens will, the real reason you get the W152 is for the sheer thrill of it. The noise, the open air, and the absolutely wild handling characteristics are something that everyone should experience at least once.
All in, you’re looking at about $30,000 for the V12 variant or around $21,000 for the inline-six. Either way, it’s not a bad way to roll.
So, we’ve covered the ’50s now, and we hit the late-60s with the Porsche. Why not roll into the mid-70s with one of the best rally cars ever made?
Lister Bell STR – Eats Lambos for Lancia
Lancia is a company that time sort of forgot. But, before the 037 made history by defeating Audi in Group B, the Stratos was dominating the rally world. And, if I’m very honest with you, I think it’s one of the coolest cars ever made.
So, what if you want one? $500,000. Yeah, sorry, I don’t have that kind of scratch laying around. The good news is that this article is all about cheap cars you can build yourself. So, for less than one-tenth the price, you can get the Lister Bell STR replica kit.
Now, it’s not a perfect replica. The original Stratos was a race-bred monster that was barely controllable on the street. Naturally, the modern replica would be safer. Oh, wait, I meant to say it’s faster. The price? $30,000 for the base or $35,000 if you want a modern Toyota V6 with it. And that’s everything; unlike a lot of kit cars, you don’t need a donor.
Alright, with that love letter to Italy out of the way, let’s go back to the modern era with what is, simply put, one of the fastest cars you can buy.
Ultima Evo – The Ultimate Experience
It comes to us from a company called Ultima, which makes sense, because it’s the ultimate car. No other qualifiers, it’ll just straight-up slap a McLaren. In fact, the Ultima GTR720 was the fastest car around the Top Gear test track until it was finally beaten by the $1.8 million Ferrari FXX.
And their newest offering, the Ultima Evolution, is faster. Now, wait, you’re going to hate me, because I’m about to tell you this is a cheap car, but the price starts at nearly $100,000 and you still have to build it yourself. Let’s look at the numbers, though. A 0-to-60 time of 2.3 seconds, a top speed of 240 miles per hour, and it does a quarter-mile in 9 seconds flat. The only thing that is close to that level of performance is something like the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, which costs over five times as much.
If you really want cheap as in actually cheap, though, just pick up the last car on our list. But, before we get to the last car, it’s time for a visit from an old friend. That’s right, it’s the honorable mention! And, for this installment, I feel like having some extra fun. If you want to beat a supercar, just head off-road.
Goblin All Terrain – Cross Country Terror
We talked about the Goblin in our last video about kit cars. They’re pretty fantastic, and the mad lads over at DF must have been bitten by the Safari bug because they’ve gone and made an off-road version of it.
What’s amazing about them is that, much like the Ariel Nomad, they’re basically just modern versions of the tube-frame dune buggies of the ’70s, complete with tight wheelbases for excellent maneuverability, and more than three times the horsepower of the average air-cooled VW engine. Unlike the Nomad, however, which can cost more than $90,000, the Goblin AT can be built for less than $12,000.
Alright, it’s time for the last car. Like many cheap, fast car articles, we can’t go without talking about the Corvette, right?
DIY Corvette Cart – No Respect
This is the last car on our list for two reasons. First, if everything else on our list has looked way too expensive, then here you go. You can afford to build a Corvette cart. Second, it’s not strictly a kit car, so I feel like it’s cheating a little bit. But, it’s an absolutely valid thing to talk about when you’re talking about DIY cars.
Now, chopping apart cars to make them go faster was definitely a thing before Roadkill did it, but I think they sort of popularized the idea when they hacked apart a C4 Corvette to terrorize Los Angeles with. Since then, we’ve seen the likes of Cleetus and B is for Build both try their hand at building a Corvette cart, and they look like so much fun to drive!
You’ll have to be a little bit more clever and probably learn to weld in order to pull it off. But, honestly, you’ll need those skills for any kit car. See, normally you’d spend $5,000 on a donor car after spending $15,000 on the kit. Then, the first step is to carefully strip the donor car down to nothing so you can build the kit car on top of it.
The Corvette cart build, however, stops at that step. You strip down a Corvette and you’re done. You should weld in a roll cage, but I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. Total cost? Well, I found a C4 that is perfect, meaning the body is already in terrible condition and it’s just screaming to be reborn as a tube-frame monstrosity, for $3,000. I’m sorry for forcing you to buy another project car.