Find out if they are legal for road use or track only
I can recall salivating over a 1989 Lamborghini Countach as a young lad. The futuristic look of the car, the lines and the spoiler turned so many heads. It was the dream car poster on bedroom walls all across North America. I remember the exact moment seeing one on the road and someone saying to me that’s a kit car. That day I learned that the Lamborghini Countach could be build on a Pontiac Fiero chassis with a complete body kit. Building a kit car piqued my interest in building a classic or exotic at a fraction of the cost. Imagine having the head turning car everyone wanted for less? It was possible and I scoured the internet looking for kits. I came across all types of replica kit cars from the 1969 Camaro or Mustang to the Shelby Cobra. This also started my thinking that any buyer of a classic or exotic must be aware of all the replicas floating around.
Are kit cars legal?
The legalities are simple for anything registered or licensed to be on the road. It comes down to the mechanic shop who signs off on the inspection for road worthiness. If the mechanic is fully certified to be working by a government jurisdiction, then they are approve a vehicle to be street legal, otherwise it must be used on the track only. This is why you see all kinds of drag racing specialties with the fiberglass shell on the roll cage, definitely not permitted for road use.
One could source a fiberglass body kit and add it to an already street legal car without much issue or required inspection by a mechanic and these kits do exist but be prepared to deal with parts not aligning and potentially dislodging over time. That old Countach body kit must have been a nightmare to keep in place image the epoxy they had to buy, it certainly would render the Fiero underneath complete junk if they ever attempted to restore.
There are safety concerns with kit cars that may be a deal breaker for most. A fiberglass body will not hold up like steel or other alloys which puts the occupants of the vehicle at serious risk of injury should there be a crash. The integrity of kit cars definitely reduce the chance of being passed during inspection. Some manufacturers even tout that they are safe only to succumb to a scrutinizing mechanic with all types of diagnostic and testing equipment to prove their findings.
Auto Blog Online’s take on kit cars
Maybe for a weekend driver in safe road conditions, at low speed or keep it for track use (with lights etc. removed). Perhaps the biggest concern is getting stuck with a kit car while paying the cost of a genuine, numbers matching model. This is why we have not purchased a classic car, we hope to gain a further understanding of verification of a genuine classic but the number of replicas out there makes it too big of a risk. Keep your eyes peeled for a future article on complete verification of genuine classic cars like the classic Mustang or Camaro to prevent a big disappointment.
We recommend a complete pre purchase inspection by a certified mechanic or classic/exotic car specialist to protect your investment.