Kit Cars Make a Case, But Used Is Better Option

Ford GT40 kit car

I went to junior high school around the corner from a Lamborghini.

In 7th grade a friend pointed to a house with a closed garage door and said, “There’s a Lamborghini in that garage.” I didn’t believe him, because I never saw it. The garage door was always closed. Every day I’d look, hoping to catch a glimpse of a real Lamborghini. Then, one day…

A bright red, low-slung angular Lamborghini Countach sat in the driveway. I was in awe. It was the first Lamborghini I’d ever seen.

Or was it?

An 8th grader saw me staring down the Lambo and quickly brought me back to Earth. “You know that’s not a real Lamborghini, right? It’s a kit car. You can tell because its about 80 percent the size of a real one.”

Jaguar XKAs my heart sunk I tried to not let on that his revelation came as a surprise. “Well, yeah, but it’s still cool,” I replied.

Ever since that day the words “kit car” have struck loathing into my soul. An article at MSN yesterday, though, made some good points about owning a kit car.

Can’t afford a million dollar Ford GT40? How about a kit version that shares about two-thirds of its parts with the real car for a tenth of the price? With that you could very well fool your non-enthusiast neighbors into thinking you bought the real thing.

That  junior high “Lambo” was probably just a Pontiac Fiero with a new body kit, which about $10,000 and some time behind a closed garage door can create. Kit cars can definitely turn heads and look much more expensive than they are, but can also easily cost up to $100,000 once the powertrain is purchased and installed. For that, I’d still rather take the money and search the CarGurus used listings for a Jaguar XK or Porsche 911.

What about you: Would you rather buy an exotic kit car or a used sports car?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Pontiac Fiero
Used Jaguar XK
Used Porsche 911


  1. If you can get it cheap, buy it. It’s actually a fun car to drive. I bought a new one the year it came out (1984) and learned a few things. Most important, I learned that you NEVER buy a GM car the first year of production. Rear engine/transaxle/suspension came from the GM X-car and front end from the Chevette, two of GM’s most famous small car duds. Actually, when bolted into a rigid space frame and wrapped with a plastic body, the combo worked pretty good.

  2. I’ve thought that before. A good Superformance Cobra can set you back 50k or more and for that money, you could get a new Boss Mustang with better performance. You could even get a vintage Corvette or E-Type or something like that for the money if you had to have something old fashioned.

  3. I know who owns an old Fierro… had since it was new I think. Now it sits in his driveway and hasn’t moved for years. I’ve actually thought about making an offer on it and turning it into a kit car.. but I can’t bring myself to do it!

  4. one of my favorites during the 1980’s was the ersatz-Ferrari 308 made from a Fiero. They also used quite a few real parts until Ferrari fairly quickly put them out of business. You can still find a few around if you search dealfinder and they’ve become quite collectible. Under the skin, it was a real Fiero and without the $1500 tuneups and crazy insurance, but… well, I guess it was the automotive equivalent of dating a Dolly Parton transvestite. No matter how good it looked on the outside, under the wrapper it was still a bitter disappointment.

    On the other hand, kit Cobras have become an industry and kit cars are far more expensive than the ones you used to buy to bolt onto an old VW chassis. I guess a kit car built just like a real cobra and with a 427 mill under the hood might be OK, and if you slide off the road you won’t see a six-figure investment going out the window.

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