If you’ve ever successfully assembled a flat-pack wardrobe, have you seriously considered taking the IKEA approach to getting a new car, too? Yes, you could build your own car – a “kit car”, to use the appropriate parlance. It will be safe and legal to drive, too, as long as it has passed the right checks.
A self-build car can be made to your custom specification, giving you something more personal and quirky than a readymade model. You can save money, too. So, where should you start?
Test the waters of the kit car world first
Building a Lego model of a car is one thing, but creating an actual, working car is quite another. In inexperienced hands, a self-built car could have a whiff of “disaster waiting to happen”. Building your own car isn’t easy, either; so, consider BT’s advice that you attend a few “kit car” shows first.
These specialist shows will give you an insight into the variety of kit cars other people have already put together. You can also meet many brands behind the manufacture of kit cars and their parts, and possibly find out more about kit car insurance as well by meeting specialist insurance providers.
Carefully research what parts you will need
From a single brand, you might be able to buy a kit for making a complete vehicle, all without needing to source extra parts from elsewhere. One brand that would allow you to do this is Caterham, the purveyor of the iconic Seven kit car.
However, other self-build vehicles might be impossible to complete without a “donor” car from which the major components, such as the engine, gearbox and brakes, can be fetched.
Prepare your garage for a long-term stay there
Don’t be too quick to assume that you could get that kit car done and dusted in just a week. T3 warns: “Best will in the world, your car may be short of a part or two and the IVA/registration process can take longer than expected.”
More about that process in a moment; but, first, you should consider how to keep your garage clean, well-lit and insulated for the long spring, autumn and winter you could end up spending there.
You could have specialist floor tiles fitted in that garage to let yourself walk around and sit on it without picking up dirt. Consider setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot in the garage, too; it could come in useful for when you want to quickly research a part or technique you had overlooked.
Check that the finished car is legal to drive
Kit cars need to pass various tests before they are legal to drive on UK roads. These tests include IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval), which will verify the vehicle’s safety and environmental efficiency, says the Friday-Ad website. Then there’s the Vehicle Identity Check (VIC).
Another crucial part of a kit car’s legal wrapper is, of course, how you protect it against the unexpected. Sadly, traditional insurers tend to undervalue self-build cars and so opt to cover their market, rather than actual, value. However, by now you’ll hopefully know a little more about kit car insurance, and who to contact to get the right policy for you.