Kit car

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Advertisement for the Metz Two as a kit car based on the "Metz Plan" (1910)
Caterham Seven
Caterham Seven frame
Pilgrim Sumo , stylistically based on the AC Cobra .

A kit car (to German Kit Car ) is a kit ( "Kit" ), which is used for the construction of a vehicle, or a complete vehicle ( " fully-build form " ), which was created from a kit. The aim is either to visually replicate a rare, expensive vehicle (especially expensive oldtimers or super sports cars) or to create a completely individual vehicle. Vehicles of this type are particularly common in the UK .


As early as 1900, Thomas Hyler-White wrote instructions for building a vehicle based on the Benz Velo in the magazine The English Mechanic . In the USA between 1901 and 1903 the Shatswell was sold as a kit by HK Shatswell & Company with a four-piston steam engine . In 1904 the Bradford appeared on the basis of the Holley Motorette , a single-cylinder Voiturette that sold poorly for US $ 650. The Bradford kit was only US $ 277.50.

Charles Herman Metz (1863–1937) was brought in in 1908 to reorganize the Waltham Manufacturing Company, which he had founded and now practically insolvent, and was faced with the problem of dismantling a huge inventory of existing components for a new model that could not be financed. He launched the Metz Two on an installment plan. The customer received a package of components with each installment. With the last delivery he received the steering wheel. The packages were sent after prepayment, so that the customer could determine the pace of construction according to construction progress and financial possibilities. The Metz Plan was extremely successful and enabled the company to be reorganized as the Metz Company . Even Buck boards were sold as kits. For example, the Shaw Speedster introduced in 1920 , which was not much larger than a ride-on lawnmower and with its 2 to 2.5 bhp engine still reached 40 km / h and was only available as a kit from 1930.

Derek Buckler , who started manufacturing sports cars in 1949, is known as the father of the modern “kit car industry” . The development of the first fiberglass bodies from 1953 (including Jensen 541 ) led to a kit car industry. The kit car industry in Great Britain benefited from special tax legislation that made self-built vehicles more tax-efficient than pre-assembled vehicles.

Admission process

As a result of the Europe-wide standardization of the general operating permit , the approval process has been simplified since 1998 through the ECE homologation . If the previous vehicle frame is retained, the vehicles will be approved as a conversion of the original vehicle and thus with its year of construction. If the vehicle frame is changed, this is considered a new registration and the currently valid regulations must be observed. For approval in Germany, vehicles without an EC declaration of conformity require an individual operating permit . The kit car manufacturer usually obtains a national type approval, which is recognized by the approval authorities. The conformity of the vehicle with the type approval only has to be checked once by the TÜV and only causes low costs.

Market and manufacturer

In Great Britain , Lotus Cars is the largest kit car manufacturer with a total of over 21,000 units sold (over 9100 Lotus Elan and 8300 Lotus Europa ). Caterham Cars follows with the replica of the Lotus Seven in 13,500 copies. TVR , various replicas of the VW buggy and Pilgrim Cars with the Sumo model follow in the sales figures.

In Germany in the 1970s, the VW buggy based on the VW Beetle was very popular. Today, so-called replicas , for example the Porsche 356 , based on the VW Beetle are popular. The Citroën 2CV ("duck") also serves as the basis for kit cars to this day; u. a. Hoffmann 2CV Cabrio and Lomax .

In the 1980s, the Pontiac Fiero became a basis for building modern kit cars. With its mid-engine concept and tubular steel frame (with a plastic body attached), this vehicle is suitable for building replicas of Italian sports cars. A Fiero with a body based on the Ferrari 308 GTB was even sold by the American Pontiac dealer network .

The Toyota MR2 is also used as the basis for the Ferrari 360 and Ferrari F430 .

Current status

The price differences between the kits from Kit Cars and their finished variants are exceeded many times over by the cost of assembly. The motive for building a kit car today arises more from the joy of “screwing” and the possibility of owning a unique vehicle. While kit cars used to be an economical alternative, today they are an expensive whimsy of a dedicated fan base. To make matters worse, a number of safety and environmental approval conditions make the development and sale of kit cars considerably more expensive.

Current kits are mostly replicas of well-known and expensive classic cars on a 1: 1 scale, which can be assembled independently in workshops. These replicas of various well-known, older types of cars are usually sold as an incomplete kit, i.e. H. Purchased with a separate chassis and body. Outwardly they appear like the original. Instead of the otherwise usual “sheet metal cladding” for the body, the manufacturer usually uses fiberglass-reinforced plastic for production .

On the technical side, those interested in such vehicles can notice a significant deviation from the original. The components such as engine, gearbox, axles, etc. are taken from current, mostly used motor vehicles and often technically refurbished before the conversion, i.e. H. worn parts are replaced. The kit cars enable the classic car enthusiast to own vehicles that would be financially unaffordable in the original. Apart from that, real classic cars are often only suitable for everyday use to a limited extent.


The design of a car is usually also subject to copyright law . A vehicle that is to be "replicated" and was first presented less than 70 years ago therefore requires the manufacturer's approval. Some manufacturers, such as Ferrari , take legal action against replicas.


  • Steve Hole: AZ of Kit Cars. Haynes Publishing, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84425-677-8 . (English)
  • Beverly Rae Kimes (Ed.): Henry Austin Clark Jr.: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 3. Edition. Krause Publications, Iola WI, 1996, ISBN 0-87341-428-4 . (English)

Web links

Commons : Kit cars  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. Consisting of chassis and body, excluding engine, gearbox, axles. See kit for Pilgrim .
  2. Popular replicas of the kit-car scene are among others. a. AC Cobra , Ford GT40 and Lamborghini Countach .
  3. ^ BR Kimes (Ed.): HA Clark Jr.: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 1996, p. 1344.
  4. ^ BR Kimes (Ed.): HA Clark Jr.: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 1996, pp. 707-708.
  5. ^ BR Kimes (Ed.): HA Clark Jr.: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 1996, pp. 967-969.
  6. ^ BR Kimes (Ed.): HA Clark Jr.: Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942. 1996, p. 1345.
  7. Steve Hole: AZ of Kit Cars. 2012, p. 7.
  8. Steve Hole counts over 1500 different models from 1949 to 2012.
  9. See also 2007 / C 68/04, Official Journal of the European Union.
  10. Steve Hole: AZ of Kit Cars. 2012, p. 284 (as of June 2012)
  11. Welcome to DNAAUTOMOTIVE.COM. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on October 17, 2016 ; accessed on October 24, 2016 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Around £ 4000 for example for the Thruxton GT 200 kit (as of June 2012)
  13. According to a survey of almost 600 kit-car owners in the USA, England and Germany, evaluated by Ingo Stüben, the time required for assembly is between 100 and 1500 hours, depending on the model and status of the semi-finished product purchased. Published in: Kit Cars as an example of technical leisure and mobility innovation , Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2000, ISBN 3-8288-1004-7 .
  14. GRP is widely used in boat building and wind power. Hulls of pleasure boats or canoes as well as blades of wind turbines are made almost exclusively of this material because of the ease of processing. As a cold-curing medium with an additive (hardener), GRP offers the user the possibility of freely designing components in a form with relatively little effort.
  15. "Commercial use" of a Ferrari Formula 1 replica prohibited , accessed on April 26, 2013, Ferrari prohibits replicas of oldtimers even with Ferrari frames and engines , accessed on April 26, 2013.