How much would a car cost if you made it from parts?

How much would a car cost if you made it from parts?

Would it be a lot more?

Say you wanted a custom car with a body from one company and an engine/power train from another. (Like the ones they have at The Good Guys auto rallies and shows.) Would it be cheaper to buy parts or buy two cars and scrap the leftovers?

It would cost $125,000 to make one from parts (A $20,000 car)-from 60 minutes tv program.

Andy Rooney is not my preferred source for that sort of information.

      • I read the cost was about $90,000, for a car that originally cost ~$15,000. A couple parts weren’t available retail at all (the unibody, a couple frame pieces) so the figure wasn’t quite “complete”. I read this a number of years back and I don’t remember the car it was for, but it was a regular US typical model fairly popular at the time.
  • Re: Major swaps… if you want to change any major pieces such as engines or drivetrains, usually the cheapest way to do it is buy a vehicle that has the pieces you want to swap with your original car, change the pieces, and then sell the other vehicle. I know guys IRL who have done this: they had a car with a small engine, and they wanted a bigger engine that was available but not in that particular model or year of car. It’s more trouble but far cheaper than just buying an entire new engine. (—Usually “crate” engines advertised at auto-parts stores only have the block and the internal pieces such as crankshaft+pistons included, and perhaps the cylinder heads-- but you still need all the little pieces that go onto the outside of the engine, and the mounting pieces that hold the engine in the car. When you buy a “new” engine, it is presumed that you will switch all the little external pieces from the old engine to the new. If you want a whole entire engine, you have to ask for a turnkey or ready-to-run engine, which will cost a lot more) - MC

All you have to do is look at patterns of crime.

For the most part, when a car is stolen for profit, its valuable parts are removed because they are worth more individually than collectively as a complete vehicle. It stands to reason that if you took those individual parts whether from a retailer or a black marketeer, the completed vehicle would cost more than one off the dealer’s lot. Otherwise, why would criminals make the effort?* Occasionally cars are stolen to order, but I believe that is rare.

[sub]Of course, a complete vehicle is much easier to trace than any individual part form that car, but their is substantial risk involved in operating chop shops.[/sub]

If you want to REALLY have fun, try to imagine how much it would cost to build a car if we built them like we build houses. Start with the frame - order up the metal, and hire a journeyman car-frame welder to weld it up for you. Get a mechanic to order parts out of a catalog and build them for you. Upholsterers to make the interior, painters to paint the vehicle…

And any guesses as to its quality when you’re done, as compared to a modern assembly line car? I think it’d suck.

We need to learn to build housing more intelligently.

I think it would suck too. Robots rule! :slight_smile:

Kind of an interesting OT -

When Nissan was celebrating the 25th or 30th anniversery of the Z-Car they did something kind of unique (or at least I think it was).

They bought some used Z’s (from 69/70 240s all the way to 80s Z31 300ZX Turbos) and totally restored them to basically factory new by using genuine Nissan new parts where needed. So, when they were done the basically had “new” 10-30 (or whatever) year old cars. Didn’t make very many if memory serves and the price was a real premium.

I’ll try to find a cite, but I read it in a magazine some years ago.

*part Pronunciation: (pärt), —n.

  1. a portion or division of a whole that is separate or distinct; piece, fragment, fraction, or section; constituent: the rear part of the house; to glue the two parts together. *

By this definition, all cars are made from parts. So, a car not made with parts is composed of nothing. Nothing is free, so the difference is MSRP - 0 = MSRP.


Yeah, but with rust-proofing that’s gotta be like … two grand extra!


I have relatives with modular-built houses. No, not mobile homes (well, I have relatives with those, too), but I mean factory-built houses. They look just a regular “stick-built” house, with basement, attached garage, and second storey.

So, we’re getting a little more intelligent, as long as a limited choice of floor plans is okay with you. It’ll be okay with me when I decided to move next time.

If that’s the case wouldn’t it be profitable to buy new cars and take them apart to sell in pieces? And then all parts would be available at the retail level.

The integration of parts in modern cars would keep you from easily building the kind that custom coachbuilders did in the thirties. Drivetrains and chassis used to be far more generic now that front engine, rear live axle setups are rare in passenger cars. Anything can be done at a price but fabrication costs would likely be many times the cost of parts and raw materials.

It also depends on what kind car you want to buy parts for. Last time I was at Pep Boys they couldn’t get me a water pump for my Rolls Royce Silver Corniche. :smiley: Building a VW powered dune buggy - a custom car to be certain but not what you had in mind - is a different matter. Most drivetrain parts are available from third party manufacturers. You can build an entire engine without using a single VW made part as everything down to the engine case is available from Bugpack and others.

you would have to compete w/carparts dot com.and dozens of other aftermarket carparts retailers. all parts are available at retail level. for instance i own a mustang and theres a tremendous aftermarket for it(from various manufacturers not just ford). i can purchase ANY part for it,from body panels to a brand new complete engine.
so no it wouldn’t be profitable.

Anybody ever heard the Johny Cash song ‘One Piece At A Time’? It’s about doing this exact thing. It’s about a guy who works at GM and decides he wants a Cadillac, but he can’t afford one. What he decides to do is steal a whole car one piece at a time. When he finally gets all the parts, he finds out that it took so long to get all the parts that none of them go together. He winds up with a car that has one tailfin, one headlight on one side and two on the other side, and the engine didn’t fit the transmission. It’s pretty funny.

If you really want to get technical, you can add in the cost of getting the education for knowing how to put the car together once you get the parts!

Truth to tell, the actual cost of the car would be determined by how you wanted to do it, and what kind of features you wanted the car to have. Are you just going to assemble the car out of parts? If so, then you can do it fairly cheaply (pick up a kit car magazine and you’ll get a feel for about how much it would cost). If you’re going to make everything from scratch, body, engine, etc., then you’re talking real money!

Tony, welcome to the board, and you didn’t really explain why it would not be profitable. Sure you’d be competing - that’s part of any business effort, but if you could lay your hands on $90K worth of retail hardware for $15K it would seem like there’s a potential for profit there.

My main point is that I don’t really believe those numbers.

I have some old Car and Driver Magazines, and I remember reading about that ad too.

This might seem interesting:

A guy bought a Delorean whose previous owner totally disassembled it(even the alternator!),and now he is rebuilding it. He’s getting close to finishing it.:smiley:

Not to mention the extended warrantee.

ohhh yes those inflated figures. i dont buy into those # either. i guess that is what it comes down to…

I don’t know what the figures are but I am not so sure they would not be accurate, if we are talking about the cost of a new car compared to the cost of buying new original manufacturer parts at retail prices. My understanding of the manufacturing and retail business is that a very large part of the retail price of goods to be made up of handling, transportation, packing and storage on-costs, plus the mark up of each party in the chain from manufacturer to retailer.

If you are making a new car, you make many of the parts at the one place. Other parts will come in bulk from other locations at low cost. You then put them together into one, self propelled, self contained package and sell that. That’s a comparatively cheap thing to do.

If you have to keep a stock of left hand widgets for one (of seven) model of your 1994 car all over the country, individually packaged, inventoried and distributed, possibly for years and years before someone happens to need one in your dealership in Badass Texas, and if you’ve got to do that for each part (thousands of them) for each model of car, for each year, you are looking at on-costs beyond belief.

You could pull apart a new car to get some cheap parts. But only a few of those parts would actually sell well, most of them would just linger on the shelves. And to provide a reasonably service for your customers (so that they have some expectation you will have the particular part for the particular car for the particular year they want) you will have to do this for dozens and dozens of new cars. And the next thing you know, your overheads and unsold inventory will make your prices as high as any other parts outlet.