At this time when it seems like practically the entire world is ‘on hold’ — or at least only just beginning to emerge from lockdown — you might have wondered whether now would be a good moment to get involved in a new ‘indoor’ hobby, such as … building your own kit car.
What is a kit car, anyway?
For those who are unaware, the Collins English Dictionary defines a kit car as ‘a car that is supplied as a set of pieces ready to be assembled’. As magazines such as T3 have previously reported, there are various manufacturers that specialise in this kind of car, including the likes of Caterham, Westfield and Factory Five.
Should I build one as the coronavirus rages?
Well, with some reports suggesting that a lot of the features of public life that we have become familiar with during lockdown — such as social distancing in shops and periods of self-isolation — could last for years. So you might well have the time to build a kit car, or even several, before the pandemic is truly a thing of the past.
But of course, the question of whether you should build a kit car will come down to so much more than simply whether it’s an enjoyable way to pass the time and distract yourself from the various bleak Covid-19-related headlines.
Yes, on one hand, building a kit car can be immensely rewarding. If you are the kind of person who grew up constructing Airfix models, for instance, you’ll already know how gratifying it can be to build something from scratch by yourself.
Get it right, and you’ll feel proud and accomplished in addition to having something to drive in and show off to neighbours — regardless of whether or not government guidelines mean they’re actually allowed to come physically close to you by the time you’ve finished assembling it.
It is equally important to acknowledge, however, that building a kit car isn’t for everyone and that there are various potential practical issues you may — or may not — be able to easily overcome at a time when much of ‘normal life’ has been put on hold.
First of all … don’t underestimate the costs involved
One thing that has often been said about kit cars is that building one yourself can be a great way of saving money, effectively making a given vehicle affordable that might not have been within your financial reach otherwise.
However, the exact amount that a kit car will set you back will also depend on various other factors, such as the particular model that you purchase and whether you opt for a complete kit or use a ‘donor’ car.
You should also take account of any costs that may be incurred by the process of having your kit car approved for legal road use. The GOV.UK website provides details on this for prospective kit-car builders in the UK.
Another factor is how much your finished kit car might cost you in insurance. As the kit car insurance experts at MoneyBeach explain, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to insuring a kit car, including ensuring your chosen insurer actually understands kit cars, and can therefore protect it for an appropriate value.
Bear in mind, too, that while the term ‘kit car insurance’ typically refers to insurance for when the car has been constructed and is ready for road use, other relevant types of insurance exist that you might wish to budget for.
These include transit insurance for the protection of a kit car, parts and tools during collection from the manufacturer, and build-up insurance for the kit car and parts during construction.
What else could make a COVID-19 kit car a good or bad idea?
So, you might have read this far and decided that you’re comfortable with the costs of a kit car, and would have the enthusiasm and commitment to carry the assembly process through to completion. But there are still some other practical factors to think about.
Will you, for example, have the physical space in which to build a kit car? A garage is the obvious place, not least for security reasons, but it will also need to be a pleasant enough environment for you to actually want to be there while building the car.
So, making sure your intended place of kit-car assembly is clean, well-lit and insulated is a must. Add some specialist garage floor tiles for comfortable walking around, and little luxuries like a TV, sound system and fridge, and it may well be your favourite place to be during the entirety of what remains of the pandemic.
You’ll also need to make sure you have all of the right tools on you for building your kit car, or know where you can easily get them from if you presently lack them.
And if you’re taking the ‘donor car’ approach — meaning you won’t necessarily have all of the parts you need from day one — will it be a straightforward enough process to obtain those components from parts suppliers or scrap yards?
The last thing you’ll want is for your kit-car assembly to come to a sudden halt because of one crucial component being seemingly impossible to find. That’s why you should be thinking carefully about tools and parts availability before you commit to anything.
Best wishes with your kit-car adventure!
There you have it — just some of what will be the central factors in your decision as to whether to build a kit car during this rather strange time for most of us.
If you do ultimately go ahead with it, make sure you make a good job of it — not least so that you can also make the most of the open roads in your new four-wheeled pride and joy, once restrictions are finally fully lifted.