5 Most Impressive Kit Cars You Can Buy Today

Superlite SL-C 21 photos
Photo: Race Car Replicas
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If you dreamed about building an awesome car but only have basic mechanical knowledge and tools, you can turn your dream into reality with one of these impressive kits.
Kit cars allowing enthusiasts to build and customize their dream rides have existed for many decades.

Unquestionably, the most famous early example is the Lotus Seven, a super lightweight icon that's still in production today, albeit under the Caterham moniker.

Since the early days of the Lotus Seven, the kit car industry (and the automotive industry, as a whole) has changed drastically.

Therefore, kit cars are now easier to assemble than ever before, with most requiring only basic mechanical knowledge and tools to complete.

So, if you're considering taking your DIY skills to the next level, here are five of the most impressive kit cars you can buy today.

1. Factory Five MK4 Roadster

Factory Five MK4 Roadster
Photo: Factory Five
While many enthusiasts dream of owning one, an authentic Shelby Cobra is prohibitively expensive. The "cheapest" examples on the market still demand six-figure sums, while highly original 427s are literally worth millions.

But that's not to say that owning a Cobra is impossible for those with smaller budgets. The iconic Shelby is one of the most replicated models by the kit car industry, and one of the best kits that money can buy is the MK4 Roadster from Factory Five.

For $20,990, the complete kit includes a jig-welded tube frame equipped with a fully independent suspension system, 2011 Mustang GT-sourced brakes, and a rack-and-pinion steering box.

Moreover, you get a fully equipped, ready-to-paint composite body and all other parts needed to complete the car.

According to Factory Five, the only components you'll need to source yourself are the engine, transmission, rear end, and wheels.

The MK4 chassis is designed to accept a 1987-2004 Mustang powertrain, but custom mounts for different engine/gearbox combos can be ordered.

With that in mind and the eventual cost of a professional paint job, you can build this amazing Cobra replica for around $30,000.

2. LB Specialist Cars STR

LB Specialist Cars STR
Photo: LB Specialist Cars
Designed by the famed Marcello Gandini and powered by a mid-mounted Ferrari Dino V6, the iconic Lancia Stratos won the World Rally Championship three times in a row, from 1976 to 1978.

Besides the rally versions, Lancia also built 492 road-going homologation specials, and the examples that survived in pristine shape are now worth well over $500,000.

While an original is insanely expensive for most of us, a DIY kit replica is available from UK-based LB Specialist Cars.

Dubbed STR, the kit includes a high-quality semi-monocoque chassis with a fully integrated roll-cage, complete suspension, breaks, and steering.

Of course, you also get the complete body, which is available in standard street-legal specs or a faithful replica of the Group 4 challengers.

According to LB Specialist Cars, the company can paint the body for you and even fit replica decals at extra cost.

As with the Cobra replica, the powertrain is not included. You can equip the SRT with one of the multiple transversely-mounted engines, including several versions of the Alfa Romeo Busso V6, the Toyota 2GR-FE V6, or even a Ferrari V8.

The complete kit starts at just under $40,000, and depending on the options and powertrain you choose to add, the total cost can go well above $50,000.

While it's not a cheap kit car by any means, the STR is by far the most faithful, high-quality replica of Lancia's rally legend.

3. Factory Five 818

Factory Five 818C
Photo: Factory Five
If you're not into replicas and are looking for a more original build, the Factory Five 818 is one of the most exciting kit cars you can get.

A lightweight two-seat mid-engine sports car is available as a coupe (818C), spyder (818S), or full-blown track weapon (818R), it doesn't look like your average kit car, and, if properly equipped, it won't perform like one either.

The kit starts around $13,000 and includes a custom chassis and a full body, but unlike the Factory Five Cobra replica, it requires a donor Subaru Subaru Impreza or WRX built from 2002 to 2007.

Apart from the powertrain, several components like spindles, brakes, or suspension assemblies are required to complete the 818.

Nevertheless, a second-generation Impreza won't be too hard or expensive to source, and aftermarket hardware for its flat-four is widely available, so you can build a surprisingly capable mid-engine sports car for less than $20,000.

Readily built 818s are also available on the used car market for less than that, but nothing compares to building an awesome sports car with your own two hands.

4. Superlite SL-C

Factory Five 818S
Photo: Factory Five
While the Factory Five 818 is a cool mid-engine sports car you can build yourself, the Superlite SL-C takes things to the next level.

One of the most impressive kit cars available today, the SL-C is a bonafide supercar you can assemble for less than $100,000.

While that isn't cheap by any means, the finished product raises to the same level of performance as a Lambo or a Ferrari. Moreover, it looks like a street-legal version of a Le Mans race car.

Developed by Michigan-based Race Car Replicas (RCR), the SL-C features a high-quality aluminum semi-monocoque that can be paired with a variety of engines ranging from nearly any American V8 to V10 or V12 Lamborghini units.

For around $90,000, you can get the complete kit that includes the fully equipped chassis, complete body, and interior components. The figure also includes a new, turnkey LS7 crate engine, a used Graziano V8 six-speed transaxle, and a set of wheels and tires.

Again, the SL-C is not cheap, but it's certainly one of the most impressive street-legal track cars you can assemble yourself.

5. RCR 917

RCR 917
Photo: Race Car Replicas
As the name implies, Race Car Replicas doesn't just develop the awesome SL-C.

Though their portfolio of faithful, high-quality race car replicas is vast, one of the most jaw-dropping is based on one of the iconic Porsche 917K.

Considered the best race car of all time by many enthusiasts and motorsport historians, the 917K was a dominant force in endurance racing during the early 1970s.

The RCR replica not only looks like an authentic 917K, but thanks to the chassis and suspension components heavily inspired by the original design, it behaves similarly to one on the track.

The kit starts around $51,000 and includes everything you need to build a street-legal 917K replica - save for the powertrain.

According to RCR, the chassis design limits the gearbox choices to a Porsche 930 four-speed transaxle, which costs over $10,000 used.

While the transaxle will bolt onto a Porsche flat-six with ease, RCR provides adapters for other, less-expensive powerplants like a good-old Chevy LS V8.

Finishing this build will probably require north of $70,000, but you will end up with a legendary race car in your garage.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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