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10 Kit Cars We Wouldn't Drive If You Paid Us – HotCars

by Nov 3, 2022Blog0 comments

While some kit cars offer the style and panache of the source material at lower prices, others are absolute lemons that are best avoided.
Some gearheads get a kick out of modifying; others from show and shine. There are then those who like to build their rides – and not in the traditional restoration sense, but as a home-built kit car. A vehicle based on a cheap donor, which often resembles something more expensive, or completely different.
It's a tried and tested practice. The legendary Lancia Stratos was copied and offered in kit form by Hawk cars. A breathtaking Ferrari Daytona replica got cast in the Miami Vice TV series. Under its skin were mechanicals from a Chevrolet C4 Corvette. These cars offered the style, and panache of the source material at lower prices.
Not all creations end up being lust-worthy machines, though. A vast majority simply look ghastly or drive poorly, or both. With the best intentions failing, these kit cars fall short of their intended marks. So as a stark example, here are 10 kit cars we wouldn't drive if you paid us.
Offered at a budget price of under $4000, the Easy Rod's kit will allow wrench-happy gearheads to transform a 10th-generation Ford Thunderbird. Everything is included in the pack; from the fiberglass panels to the adhesive. No cutting or tricky welding is required.
The result you get for your money is questionable. A sort of mish-mash of the past and the long-forgotten past is prevalent. It looks dreadful. Even with period-correct whitewalls and an additional chrome pack.
Related: This Is Why The 2002 Ford Thunderbird Was Such A Massive Disappointment
Harking back to the late '60s, the Autokit Invader GT has no idea what it wants to be. Built from the remains of a Volkswagen Beetle, it has removable Perspex gull-wing doors and protruding headlamps. Surprisingly, around 2,000 units were sold by the company during its run.
Generally fitted with a 1.6-liter Beetle engine, the Invader GT made a lousy 50 hp. A lot of examples have been retrofitted with larger engines, but the handling was still classic Beetle. While the Invader GT may give off a futuristic comic vibe, it still sucks as a motor vehicle.
As if penned by two separate designers, the Bradley GT II gets an aerodynamic front and a boxy rear end. It's like the mullet of kit cars. Once again based on the remains of a Volkswagen, it also embraced the gull-wing door craze. Despite being described as exotic and sleek, it wasn't.
Thankfully only around 500 units were sold, so coming across one is a rarity. The aged Beetle underpinnings provided reliability but very little performance. The interior was also a mess. With independent gauges seemingly screwed onto a piece of varnished off-cut timber.
There used to be an anti-drug campaign whose slogan simply read "just say no." Long defunct, it should be given new life and aimed at anyone looking to buy a Campagna Aero 3S trike. On first inspection, it looks wild. Something different. Then common sense kicks in.
Looking like something Ariel half-made and then abandoned. It is fast, but there are drawbacks. The Campagna Aero 3S costs $74,000 all in. A gearhead could get an actual performance car for that. It's also ugly, so people will inevitably stop and stare for the wrong reasons.
Related: 10 Reasons Why Every Biker Should Ride One Of The 2022 Harley-Davidson Trikes
A bold name for a car so dull. Based on a 1989 design, the Midas Gold is said to set the standard for small, practical sports cars. Whoever thought that must never have driven the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Cobbled together from Austin Metro parts, it utilizes a GRP monocoque.
The best kit car ever made from Metro components was the 6R4 rally car, and that car had little in common with a Metro. In the same way, the Midas Gold has little in common with style. A wheezy 1.3-liter turbocharged engine makes 93 hp.
There are a niche collection of individuals who think combining a boat and a car is a necessity. Like it's an engineering conundrum that needs answering. Well, it doesn't. Apart from possible comedy value, there is simply no reason that a car owner needs to drive into a lake.
But yet the Dutton Reef exists and sells. Dutton is a world leader in amphibious vehicles. The 2wd Reef uses Ford Fiesta components plus a specially designed hull. While the vehicular achievement is quite impressive, the driving appeal wears off after five minutes.
Related: The Atlas ATV Is The Ultimate Off-Road Amphibious Vehicle From Ukraine
It's a conversion kit that transforms early Dodge 1500 or Ford F250 pickups into a miniature big rig. Read that again if you have to, and then simply wonder why. All the style of a big rig. Shrunken down to offer none of the functionality. It will fit in a regular parking space though.
Available as both Lil Pete and Lil Kenny, the Miniature Peterbilt and Kenilworth trucks are a reality, all for the bargain price of up to $20,385. There are far cheaper ways in which a gearhead can embarrass themselves and lose social standing. Truckers will squash you for fun.
There is nothing wrong with the Mazda MX-5 Miata. It's been around forever, but its recipe works. It is small, punchy, and loads of fun. There is no need to try and drastically overhaul its looks, especially with a dreadful body kit that flips the calendar back to 1960.
It's very unlikely that any Shelby Cobra owner ever wished that their muscle car was smaller and with less power and a smaller engine. There are a fair few Miata owners who wish their cars resembled a Shelby Cobra. But, it doesn't mean that a Mazda Miata should though. Ever.
Related: 10 Things Gearheads Forgot About The Shelby Cobra
One of the better-looking cars on this list, the Classic Coachwork GT Hardtop makes a good job of looking fairly retro. What lets it down is the dimension. It looks a bit squashed. The reason is that the donor vehicle is a BMW Z3. So start with rubbish and finish with rubbish.
The BMW Z3 wasn't a great car. Most versions without an M-badge or the 2.8-liter engine were underpowered. The handling wasn't that sharp, and it lacked dynamic sparkle. All of these qualities get transplanted in the GT Hardtop. Which makes it feel rather period to be fair.
If you desperately want a Ferrari but can't afford a Ferrari, kit cars have usually been the answer. The Pontiac Fiero and Toyota MR2 have given up their souls to be converted in the past. Now steps forward the Peugeot 406 Coupe –an average car dressed like a knockout.
The conversion isn't bad, cosmetically. A keen gearhead will easily see that it's not a Ferrari, especially when they look inside. The big giveaway is that it lacks performance. Even the 3.0-liter V6 only mustered 7.4 seconds to 60 mph from its 204 hp. Hardly impressive.
Having cut his teeth on the UK street racing scene in the late 90’s and early 00’s RJ faded from the limelight only to return 20 years later. An avid motoring enthusiast RJ especially enjoys JDM and Italian cars, and is an experienced multi-industry writer.

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