There Are 10 Cheap Kit Cars Available. In the present market, there are only two methods to build your own sports car: either need more resources to persuade a big manufacturer to design a model just for you, or get your hands dirty and buy a kit car. The major benefit of a kit car is that it offers many more customization options than buying a standard sports car would. For example, builders often have a choice of engines and can add as many aftermarket enhancements as they want without worrying about voiding a warranty.
There’s also the joy of being able to say you built your car rather than buying one, which is an honor even multimillionaire collectors who commission one-of-a-kind cars can’t claim. Also, buying a kit car is usually much less than buying an identical turnkey sports car, with many kits costing less than $25,000 and boasting head-turning looks and track-ready performance when completed.
1. Factory Five ’33 Hot Rod – $20,990
Factory Five is a well-known American kit car maker and with good reason. The company manufactures a variety of low-cost kits, the most vintage of which is the ’33 Hot Rod. The ’33 Hot Rod is available in two phases for $10,990 each or as a full kit for $20,990. It differs from many other kit cars in that it is not reliant on a donor car. Factory Five instead fabricates everything in-house, including the chassis, body, suspension, and interior, leaving just the drivetrain for the builder to purchase separately.
The focus while creating the Hot Rod kit, according to Factory Five’s president Dave Smith, was to increase performance and drivability over a typical Hot Rod build and make things easy by delivering all the parts in one spot. The design first appeared at the 2008 SEMA exhibition, and the second-generation kit is currently available on Factory Five’s website.
2. Exomotive Exocet – $7,999
It may not be the most visually appealing kit car on the market, but few can compete with the Exomotive Exocet in terms of inexpensive performance. The Exocet utilizes a Mazda Miata as a donor car but removes all extraneous parts to make an ultra-lightweight track day toy, with a starting price of only $7,999 for the base-spec kit. For an additional $300, buyers may add a roll bar to bring the car up to competition standards, and for an additional $700, they can get an off-road kit if they prefer the trail to the track.
Exocets for the American market are built under license by Exomotive. However, the original design was conceived by designer Steve Mills, whose company Mills Extreme Vehicles (MEV) manufactures the car for the UK and European markets. Exomotive Exocets needs a donor car, either an NA or NB Miata. However, MEV-manufactured kits are also compatible with the NC generation Miata. The Exocet employs the standard Miata engine, but there is a thriving aftermarket for tuner parts. Exocet owners may easily increase their car’s power output if they choose to do so.
3. Riot Classic – $5,870
Kit car designs are often sold between manufacturers during their lifespan due to their restricted client base and minimal profit margins when one company runs out of funds and another acquires its assets. The Riot kit car is a good example since it was manufactured by Sylva Autokits and won Complete Kit Cars Magazine’s Kit Car of the Year immediately after its debut in 2005. The design was eventually sold to Xmoor Motorsports, a tiny British company, who rebuilt it and marketed it as the Riot Classic in 2013.
The Classic starting kit is listed on Riot’s website for £4,595 (roughly $5,870), including taxes, making it one of the market’s most affordable sports car kits. This comprises a chassis, body, wheels, and a choice of Ford EcoBoost powertrains for an additional cost. The mid-mounted engine can generate 210 horsepower when equipped with Riot’s preferred 1.6-liter Ford 4-cylinder. That’s a lot, given the car only weighs 480 kilos (1,058 pounds).
4. Factory Five Mk4 Roadster – $20,990
Genuine Shelby Cobras are exceedingly uncommon and pricey, with the most desirable specimens fetching more than $5 million at auction. This renders them out of reach for all but the most wealthy collectors. Still, happily, a thriving replica market enables fans to drive their own Cobra for a far more affordable price. Factory Five’s Mk4 Roadster, which retails for $20,990 for the entire kit, is one of the most popular reproduction kits. Like other kit cars, it lacks an engine and gearbox, and the wheels and tires must be bought separately.
Builders thus have the choice of whether to focus on affordability or performance, but most would prefer to pay a little more to ensure their Cobra is as fast as it looks. Factory Five offers detailed instructions on how to build the car using just standard equipment. There is no option to purchase a turnkey Mk4 Roadster, but the kit producer claims it can help buyers locate a suitable company to build the car if they are uncomfortable building it themselves.
5. DF Goblin – $9,500
The Chevrolet Cobalt from 2005 to 2010 isn’t the most impressive car, but DF offers a kit that can turn it into a bare-bones street racing monster. After acquiring a suitable donor car, the base-spec Goblin kit will cost buyers an additional $9,500. DF says building the Goblin is “even easier than flat pack furniture” since it requires basic equipment. Most constructions weigh roughly 1,500 to 1,600 pounds after assembly, making even the base-spec Cobalt’s 145 horsepower engine more than enough. On the other hand, the Goblin kit is designed to be compatible with any Cobalt engine, so buyers wanting significant performance should go for the Cobalt SS Turbo’s 260 horsepower 2.0-liter engine.
According to DF’s website, a Goblin equipped with a Cobalt SS Turbo engine should accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in around 3.25 seconds, making it quicker than a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Its mid-mounted engine and modest curb weight should also make it fast in turns, allowing drivers to keep up with cars that cost three or four times as much on the straights as in the twisties.
6. Factory Five 818 – $13,990
Factory Five has designed its unique sports car, the 818, and made reproduction kits of some of America’s best cars. It comes in roadster (818S), racing (818R), and coupe (818C) configurations. However, the coupe is arguably the most adaptable of the three. The 818, like all of the company’s cars, focuses on performance and handling. However, it’s also arguably one of the best-looking kit sports cars on the market. The 818 employs Subaru Impreza/WRX running gear, but a lightweight chassis and panels restrict its curb weight to under 1,800 pounds (818 kilograms, thus the name).
The kit costs $13,990, and Factory Five believes that the 818 can be on the road with a suitable donor car for less than $15,000. Many Impreza/WRX parts, including the front and rear spindles, steering rack, and pedal box, may be put right onto the 818. The original engine from the Impreza fits nicely into the engine bay of the 818. Still, builders eager for optimum performance may use Subaru’s large aftermarket to wring every last bit of horsepower out of the faithful Boxer engine.
7. Bauer Catfish Roadster – $13,900
In a remark, company founder Cord Bauer said that the Catfish Roadster should not be regarded as a kit car but rather a track day vehicle that owners need “take care with to put together right.” However, it is only sold as a kit car, and a good one at that. A base-spec Catfish Roadster costs $13,900, with a NASA/SCCA-approved safety cage costing an additional $2,000.
A donor NA or NB Miata is also required for the subframes, with an engine bay large enough to house both an LS V8 and a standard 1.8-liter Miata engine. Bauer was solely responsible for producing and selling the kit until 2020. Still, the design is now created by Race Car Replicas, another kit car producer renowned for its exact Ford GT40 replicas, over 28 of which were featured in the 2019 film “Ford v Ferrari.”
8. Westfield Mega S2000 – $24,900
Caterham debuted its entry-level Super Seven 2000 in the United States in 2022, but with a starting price of about $45,000, it needs to be more pricey to be included on this list. However, another British kit car producer makes a comparable kit that can be imported to the United States for little more than half the price. Westfield has been producing kit cars since 1983, with their most popular design based on the Lotus Seven, which Caterham also uses.
A Honda F20C engine powers the Mega S2000 and weighs over 1,200 pounds. It costs $24,990 with shipping from Manik Sportscars, a specialized importer in Texas. This price, however, does not include the engine, gearbox, alternator, and numerous other parts, which need a donor Honda S2000. Like many small carmakers, Westfield has suffered with financial flow, and it fell into administration in June 2022. However, in September 2022, new buyers were identified for the company trying to recommence manufacturing in a limited capacity. At the time of writing, it’s unclear how this may influence kit availability in the United States.
9. GBS Zero – $17,430
If the Westfield is still too expensive, another British company makes kit cars based on the Lotus Seven for a lower price. Great British Sports Cars, or GBS, offers a kit called the Zero, and shipping to the United States is available directly from the manufacturer. The Zero kit costs roughly $17,430 at current currency rates, including the 5% export tax. Although this is not accessible in North America, buyers in other areas may also buy a turnkey version.
The American-spec Zero kit is designed to utilize the Mazda Miata as a donor car, with compatible Mk1 and Mk2 versions. As with most other Miata-based kit cars, the factory Miata engine may be used for construction. However, modifications can readily made. In some ways, the Zero is identical to its competitors, but its unusual front-mid engine configuration enables near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution, distinguishing it from similar Lotus Seven-based designs.
10. Carolina Vaydor – $23,800
The Vaydor made news in 2016 when it was used as the Joker’s car in the film “Suicide Squad,” it’s still available to buy today. It starts with an Infiniti G35 Coupe, and unlike many of the other kit cars here, it keeps the donor car’s standard chassis and most of its internals. The kit is offered in pieces, with the basic body kit costing $16,000 and various accessories, such as unique interior parts and scissor door hinges, costing additional money. Purchasing everything but the inside upholstery kit will put buyers back a $23,800.
The kit incorporates amenities such as a head-up display and 360-degree cameras to create it more driver-friendly than most previous kit cars. The engine compartment of the G35 can accommodate 2JZ, LS, or LT engines, and Carolina Vaydor suggests upgrading from the donor car’s engine if feasible. The company predicts that most constructions will cost roughly $40,000 in total. However, this is just an estimate for skilled builders, and anybody needing assistance may have to spend significantly more. Builders with appropriate technical skills and a cheap donor G35 may still build a one-of-a-kind car with both supercar looks and supercar levels of performance for a fraction of the cost of an actual supercar.