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Building a kit car: everything you need to know

Marlin Berlinetta

Photo Credit: Brian Snelson via flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

If you’ve ever wanted to build your own car, then a self-build car may be the perfect answer. Once complete, you’ll have a fully personalised vehicle that you can call your own – and for a fraction of the price of factory made models. Building a kit car isn’t known for being a particularly easy task, but with the right preparation and knowledge – you’ll be rewarded with a custom made car!

We look at exactly how to build your own kit car, from the preparation to the process of making it road legal once you’re finished.

1. Preparing for your build

To build a kit car, first you need to make sure you’re prepared for the challenge ahead. What’s the best way to do this? Research. Fortunately, custom car building is extremely popular, so there’s a wide range of resources available.

Kit car guides

The first and most obvious place you will find information on how to build your own kit car is from dedicated guides. You can find these in digital formats online or in shops and libraries. Guides vary, from industry published magazines to manufacturer’s own publications. Have a good browse through as many as you can to get a real idea about what to expect before you embark on your build. Check out https://www.completekitcar.co.uk/ today to get started.

Specialist car shows

If you want a more hands-on learning experience, then specialist car shows can be extremely helpful. You’ll find fellow enthusiasts, and an array of different custom builds ready to influence and educate you on your own build. Look out for shows coming to your local area and go and explore the exciting world of building kit cars first hand.

Owners’ clubs

For an even more personal introduction into the self-build world, try visiting a local owner’s club. If you can find one in your local area, you can talk to current members who have built, registered and now drive their very own kit car. Members and fellow enthusiasts are usually more than happy to provide support and advice, and may even offer to help you with your build. To find your local owners’ clubs, visit https://kitcarlinks.com/ukclubs.htm

2. Choosing the right kit

If you do your research well enough, you’ll find out that deciding what type of build you want to tackle can sometimes be harder than the build itself. There are a lot of options out there, so familiarising yourself with what is on offer and the difference between them should help make your decision a little easier.

Complete kits

If you finally feel ready to take on your build, then complete kits offer you a build that will require every nut, bolt, screw, panel and component to be assembled from scratch. Common manufacturers such as Caterham and Westfield all offer complete packages for their models, so you can assemble your car piece by piece until you have a classic on your hands.

Donor builds

There are a number of reasons that people may choose to use a donor over building an entire car from scratch. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a donor car available already, then not having to purchase certain extra internal components can be very appealing. For more experienced car-build enthusiasts, using car parts from one kit and other components from another car can present a more challenging and enjoyable build. Visit https://www.totalkitcar.com/uk/uk-donor/ for an extensive list of available donor cars in the UK.

3. What you’ll need before you start

Making sure that you have everything you need before you start will make your custom build a much more straightforward and satisfying process. Knowing what to do is a great start, but having all the necessary tools is even more important.

The right facilities and equipment

To successfully be able to complete your build, a sufficient amount of space is paramount. A large garage or workshop is the ideal environment needed for storage and assembly. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right tools. You will also need to have access to a van or larger vehicle to collect your kit, as most purchases require the buyer to make the pick-up themselves.

Time and patience

Unfortunately this is something on our list that you can’t buy. If you really want to commit to building a whole car from scratch, then you have to be prepared to put in a lot of hours. Certain stages may be more difficult than others or you may have to wait on extra parts if you’re using a donor, so the process can take a long time. Be prepared!


Knowing your budget is also important and will affect the type of car that you decide to build. You can get complete builds for around £15,000, whilst donor builds are cheaper at around £10,000 – but reliant on you providing certain parts yourself. You must also take into account registration, tax and MOT costs once your car is fully built. Though much cheaper than buying the cars outright – it isn’t a cheap hobby.

4. Once it’s built

Once you have tightened every screw and polished every panel, the first thing that you’re going to want to do is take your custom built car out for a drive. But there are a couple things you need to do first…

Make sure you’re insured

Just like every other vehicle on the road, your car will need to be insured before it is legal on the road. Special kit car insurance is available and should be taken out as soon as you’re ready to drive it.

Get an IVA check

An individual Vehicle Assessment is a very thorough MOT for your kit car, which will evaluate it to make sure that it is safe and road legal. This is an absolute must before you introduce your self-built car to the open road.


Building your own kit car will take time, effort and money, but driving a car that you have personally built from scratch will give you a feeling of satisfaction that factory models can never quite achieve.

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