Replicars and kit cars

From this thread:

I thought that replicars and kit cars deserved their own thread, since they are somewhat different from classic cars.

In the other thread, I said that I like the Porsche 550 replicar. It uses a VW engine (as did the original, after all), but is more powerful than the original 550 was. I also mentioned the 1965 Cobra Daytona, which is awesome!

But I’m of two minds when it comes to replicars. Porsche 550 Spyders aren’t cheap, but they are available. It seems to me that it’s ‘dishonest’ to have a replicar. I might feel like a poseur. But the racing version (whose name still escapes me) is darn-near impossible to get. And it’s not as if we’re talking about putting a fiberglass shell on a VW frame; these kits are built like the originals. In many cases, they’re better than the originals.

And take the Daytona. When was the last time you saw an original for sale? And the replicar in the magazine does have 445 horsepower!

But what about the Italian Designs Lamborghini Diablo replicar? It has fake castings to make the engine look like the original. It seems designed to deceive.

I think, for me, the difference between the Daytona and the Diablo is that everything on the Daytona is functional, and the Diablo contains fakeries. Original Daytonas are virtually impossible to find, but anyone with the money can go out and buy a Lamborghini. Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but a car like the Daytona seems ‘legitimate’ to me while the Diablo (again, to me) is like a fake Rolex.

And then there are the kit cars that are not replicars. These are for people who want a unique car, but don’t want to masquerade as something they’re not. I’m not well-versed enough to discuss the many, many designs of kit cars; but I can point to the cars of Jim Kellison. Another is the Meyers Manx, the quintessential ‘dune buggy’ of the '60s. (Incidentally, does it seem that the heyday of kit cars was the 1960s and early-1970s?)

A kit car seems to make sense in much the same way a kit-built airplane does: They can provide higher performance at a lower price than factory-built cars. The builder can use exactly the components he wants, from a VW Beetle frame to a special tubular ‘space frame’. He can build an inexpensive car that looks nice, or he can build something like the Daytona that might require a second mortgage on the house.

So let’s hear about your favourite kit cars. Do you find replicars reasonable alternatives to expensive factory cars, or do you dismiss them as fakes? Do you, like me, draw a nebulous line between difficult-to-find classics and newer cars that are just too expensive?

As for kit cars, there’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’ll never do it, but…

I’d like to have a space frame fitted with a really tight front end. In back, I’d bolt on a 1000cc-or-greater Japanese motorcycle (Yamaha, in particular). The fiberglass two-seat body would be as functional as it can be, and also stylish. Not sure how I’d fit a reverse gear. Such a three-wheeler should get decent economy, have plenty of power, and I could even use the HOV lane (since it would legally be a motorcycle).
This is the Spyder we were both talking about. Admittedly, my father’s has a slightly different engine with something like 250 horsepower.
More later, just sticking my head in.
… You do know that you’ve described a three wheeled Caterham Super 7, right? I like the Fireblade engine in that.

My co-worker has a Witton Tiger. It’s the last one; he became friends with Len Witton long after production ceased, and Len pulled one more body out of the molds for him. A picture, ironically from a page dedicated to one of the many knockoffs of the design…

The co-worker is currently engaged in building a car from scratch; a Lotus 7-like thingie. Many’s the discussion we’ve had about the aesthetics of exhaust headers…

I presume they have zero resale value. That is no collector would want them and people who want a cool ride are unlikely to want the same exact car you built in the garage.

Are they safe? The ones I saw in the 1960s looked like a body kit on a chassis.

I’ve always fancied aShelby Cobra 427 Replica. Not cheap, but very well made kits. I’d probably get too many speeding tickets though. :cool:

I assumed the Super 7 was a Lotus replica. I’ll have to look it up later.

Indeed, that’s the 550 replica I remember.

I own a kit car.

It’s a 1960 Beetle converted to look like a 1929 mercedes. It’s not exactly a speed demon, but it’s got a heck of a lot more power than a real 1929 car would have. Plus, I can actually get parts for the thing, so I’m not afraid to drive it. It won’t beat a cobra in a race, but it’s a lot of fun to drive on the country roads around where I live.

I bought it used, in not running shape, so I got it pretty cheap. I’ve got it now to where it is drivable but won’t pass a state inspection, but it’s close. Once I get it to pass inspection I plan on driving it in to work a lot, which is something I would never dare do if it were a real 1929 car.

It’s a fiberglass body, which is nice because it won’t rust, but it’s bad because the doors are very fragile, and people like to lean on the doors when they climb in and out of the thing.

Here are some pics:

I bought it off of ebay, of all places. Ebay seems to be a good source for kit cars, but like everything else on ebay you have to be careful about what you buy. This car had a lot of problems the seller did not disclose (like the electrical system was totally futzed), but I bought it as a project car so I didn’t mind.

My car is a fiberglass kit on top of a standard VW chassis. It has no seat belts (it’s titled as a 1960 beetle, and seat belts weren’t required until 1964, I believe) and the gas tank is basically right behind your head. I drove it on the interstate once and felt a little exposed. There’s nothing like the feeling of being in a tiny little plastic car with a gas tank right behind you when a huge semi comes barreling along at 80 mph and nearly blows you off the road.

It is a Lotus replica. It’s just light as heck, four wheeled, and typically powered by a motorcycle engine. The Fireblade’s a common choice. What you’re describing is almost the same thing, but three wheeled. From a conceptual standpoint, you know?

I have always wanted a Mercedes-Benz C 111 - I love the gullwing doors. Are there any kit cars for that?

Not surprisingly, I’d like one of these. There used to be a company producing replicars of the Studebaker Starlight Coupe, but I haven’t been able to find anything about them in recent years, so I’m guessing they’re out of business. A shame too, since the Studes are really starting to go up in price these days.

Norwood Ferrari 330/P4 replicas regularly bring over $100,000 at auction. Of course, they have actual Ferrari V-12 engines which can easily exceed $25,000 by themselves.
These cars are true replicas and have nothing to do with kit cars. The Norwood legend says that Ferrari once showed up at his door with a pair of engineers and a lawyer because he represented the cars as perfect replicas and used Ferrari’s logo. After a thourogh examination of one of the cars by the engineers, he was allowed to continue doing business as before, at least according to legend.
He also converts 308GT’s (think Magnum, P.I.) into 288GTO’s. Not exactly your average kit car.