Q: What's better, a custom frame or a donor car?
A: The answer to this depends on two things. One, how custom and original do you
want your your car , and two, how much do you want to spend in building your
car. A custom tube frame is more desirable and costly than a donor car, and is
more exotic. A donor car has the advantages of being mass produced so parts are
tried and proven and are easy to come by. It is strictly a personal decision.
Q: What's the best donor car to use? VW or Fiero?
A: Both cars have a good solid working platform. The VW was the car of choice in the
60's ,70's and 80's but with the advent of the Fiero becoming more available in the
late 80's and into the 90's, the industry, as a whole, has leaned towards the Fiero,
as the platform of choice because of the updated technology incorporated into it.
Technology such as disc brakes, electronic fuel injection, and interchangeable G.M.
parts, to name a few, are some of the reasons for the switch. However, there are
other donor cars being used such as the late model Mustang in the Factory 5 kit of
the Cobra, and there is a company developing a Testarossa on a late model Firebird.
Q: Why isn't there a bigger variety of kit car models to choose from?
A: There are a couple of reasons for this. First, is demand. There has to be a big
enough potential customer base to justify the cost of development and marketing.
And secondly, is the cost ratio between the Kit Car and "The Real Thing". For
instance, there is no denying that a De Tomaso Pantera isn't a cool car and there
are one or two manufacturers who make a kit for a Camero and a "Z". The problem
is that by the time time you purchase everything you need to complete the car you
could buy the real thing for close to the same price. This is why only the most
exotic, expensive and rarest of cars are replicated. Most people could not afford
$275,000 dollars for a real
Lamborghini Diablo, but $30,000 to $50,000 dollars
for a replica of their dream car may be more with-in their reach.
Q: What's the best type of fiberglass body; Chopped and Blown or hand-laid?
A: The answer to this question is... When done correctly, either method is acceptable.
The difference will come in the type of reinforcement that is placed into the
fiberglass as the molds are made. Many types of reinforcements are used. The
most popular are, wood, steel, and aluminum. There are others also, such as Core
Mat, which is a dense bias directional form of fiberglass. as well as carbon fiber
used in some of the upper-end replica cars . There are also solid aluminum bodies
available for some replica cars such as the Superformance Cobra from South Africa.
This kit comes at a price though. A rolling chassis with out motor, or transmission
starts at around $70,000 dollars. Not for the faint of heart or shallow of pockets.
Q: How do you Title a Kit Car?
A: How you go about titling your car will depend on what type of car you build. By
this we mean that there are three types of Kit Cars built. One ,a Kit Car using a
donor car for the platform. Two. A Kit Car constructed using a Custom frame built
by the manufacturer or someone authorized by the manufacturer. Or three. A Kit
Car built using a custom frame built by you.
If your using a donor car the first thing is to make sure that before you do ANYTHING, make sure you have a clear title to the vehicle. If you are purchasing
the donor car from a salvage yard, be sure it is NOT A SALVAGE TITLE you are
buying. Unless you are in the salvage business it will be almost impossible in most
states for you to get a new title issued in your name. Consult your local D.M.V. for
more details on "Salvage Titles". Only after you have secured a good title in your
name should you proceed to invest money into your donor car. The worst
nightmare any Kit Car builder could ever have is to invest tens of thousands of
dollars into a vehicle only to find out that the donor car does not have a clear
title. The worst case scenario is that the person with the Legal Ownership of the
car can take it from you and you loose everything you invested in the car.
Once you have clear title and you complete your car, the re-titling of the car is
fairly simple. Depending on the State you live, how the car is re-titled to a replica
car or re-body is up to them. Most states have a "Replica Car" packet that you can
pick up at your local D.M.V. A donor car is the easiest type to re-title, as long as
you have a clear title to it. The car will be re-titled using the original VIN # (Vehicle
Identification Number). If emissions are required in your state, it will be tested
based on the year of the donor car.
If you are building a Kit Car using a manufacturer supplied frame, then you will
receive an M.S.O. (Manufacturers Statement of Origin) from the manufacturer.
This M.S.O. will have a number assigned to it and this number will be stamped
somewhere on the kits' body or frame. This is the VIN #.
The M.S.O. is your "Clear Title", and the procedure is the same as a donor car with
the following exception. if you live in an emissions testing state, then the vehicles'
emissions will be based on the year you complete the vehicle unless you get a
variance. This will be discussed in a moment. Again, the rest of the procedure is
the same as with the use of the donor car in re-titling unless your state requires
their own VIN # issuance in place of an M.S.O. This will also be addressed below.
The last type of Kit Car titling that will be discussed is the homemade frame and
body. Because each state has its' own particular regulations and procedures, it
would be impossible to cover them all here. Since this site is most familiar with
Colorado procedures in obtaining a "Home Made" title, the following procedures
will be based on those requirements. However, you should get a good feeling of
what is involved, and your local D.M.V. should be able to supply you with all the
information necessary for you to meet their requirements.
All great journeys begin with the first step. in this case, it's to your local D.M.V.
where you will receive a "Replica Car" packet. In this packet are a series of forms
and questionnaires that you must fill out. Any major parts used from a donor car
in the construction will require proof of "Clear Title" and /or "Bill Of Sale".
The packet will instruct you to take your finished vehicle to the local State Patrol
office (the address and times are included in the packet) for an initial inspection.
You can either trailer the vehicle there or you can return to your local D.M.V. and
they will issue you a temporary licensee plate to allow you to drive the vehicle
there. At the time of the inspection, the state patrol will check for any VIN
numbers and inspect the vehicle for road worthiness. They may require you to to
procure an engineering report as to the structural integrity of the vehicle if they
have any concerns. Once you have had the State patrol sign off on your vehicle,
you will return to the D.M.V. with your packet and required photos, engineers
report (if required) any Titles and/or Bills of Sale. Here, the clerk will verify
your packet. The packet is then sent to The State D.M.V. where the packet is
reviewed and either approved or denied. If denied, additional information required
will requested from you to complete the approval. This approval usually takes 4 to
6 weeks as long as everything is in order. Once approved, the State Patrol will
contact you as to when you need to bring the vehicle back down to them for the
placement of the state issued VIN # to be applied to your vehicle. Once you have
the new VIN # applied and you pick up your paper work from the State Patrol, you
must return to the local D.M.V. with the paper work. At this time you must bring
ALL receipts for all work done and parts purchased for your vehicle with you.
This is critical for you. At this time these receipts will show that all Sales Tax has
been paid by you already and the State can not recharge you sales tax based on
the value of the vehicle. (which in Colorado, can be hundreds of dollars!). The
paper work is then sent back to the State D.M.V. for final processing. You normally
will receive your title in 6 to 8 weeks in the mail. Also, during this period you will
receive your license renewal in the mail. Now, since the vehicle has been titled as
whatever year you completed the vehicle no matter when you started it, you will
be required to have it pass emissions based on that year. Unless you have installed
a later model engine with ALL the computer and emissions and warning lights that
came with that engine, the chances of you passing the emissions test is as good as
a stock Ford Probe winning the Indy 500. You will need to get a variance for
emissions. What this entails is taking the vehicle down to the Local State Emissions
Center and having the vehicle certified for emissions testing based on the year of
the engine, not the year of the completion of the vehicle. You will still need to pass
emissions based on what was required on vehicles during the year that engine was
made and any emissions and smog devises used during that year will be required ,
but the standards wouldn't be anywhere as strict as current standards. Once you
have your variance, you may proceed to the local emissions stations and have the
vehicle tested. After passing, you return to your Local D.M.V. and purchase your
plates. That's all there is to it!