What Does it Cost to Build a Kit Car?by Rick Carlton
There are over 50 different manufacturers who produce kits ranging from $6,000, to over $50,000. Buying the kit one thing, but you still have to put it together and make it run. So, the total cost of your particular kit can cost more, or less, depending on who you know, and what supporting build-out systems are at-hand
At the bottom end, there are body kits that are primarily intended to either create an original body style placed on an existing chassis, such as a Volkswagen, all the way up to purpose kits that include everything you need to build a car. The typical average 2009 cost is around $12,000.
Body And Finish
Once you buy the kit, you'll have to paint it, and there are going to be all kinds of options in this event. Are you focused on building a car that looks good sitting still, or will the kit be a daily driver, or both? The more detailed the paint job, the higher the cost will be.
Wheels And Tires
Wheel/tire combos are another area where you can spend more, or less, depending the purpose. These components can range from $200, to over $2,500 per wheel as of 2009.
Engine and Gearbox
This is another area where suitability of purpose comes in. When is comes to engines, the sky's the limit, and there are kit builders who have spent literally thousands on their engines. Same for the gearbox. Again, the more time and detail you put into the system, the more it's going to cost.
Tools And Build Facility
If you have a garage, and you have room to work on the car; good. But if not, figure in the cost of a facility. In the case of tools, there are probably going to be some additional systems like welding equipment, or a chassis jig needed to finish the job. Luckily, however, there are equipment rental companies everywhere, so consider this cost as well.
So, we have a $12,000 basic kit, and now you figure out what the final car will cost, less sweat equity. The assumptions are that you have some tools, average paint job, wheel/tire combo, and paint, and you are going to have to rent a facility. At the end of the day, the final "all in" cost breakout will look like this: Basic kit cost $12,000 Tools $409 Electrical system $916 Consumables $374 24 month garage rental $6000 Engine / gearbox - $1,009 Cooling system - $314 Suspension / steering - $739 Braking system - $582 Exhaust system - $364 Security - $150 Fuel system - $369 Wheels and Tire - $500 Bodywork and accessories - $1,170 Exterior finish - $600 Interior - $1,340 Miscellaneous - $160 The total then becomes: $35,696.00, reflecting a total cost ratio of 3:1, after starting with the original kit cost.
Since 1984, Rick Carlton has authored more than 450 articles on the principles, application, analysis and deployment of interoperable enterprise technologies. Additionally, he has written more than 150 feature articles on aviation, auto and motorsports topics including work for The Auto Channel, "Automobile," "Flight Training" and "On-Track" magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.