Up and down the UK Petrol Heads who are competent do-it-yourself auto mechanics own and maintain sporty cars. From classic enthusiast to weekend track racer, often, a chap’s mistress has four wheels. And the ultimate expression of Petrolheadism – if you like the sense of achievement that comes from a complete engineering challenge – is building your own kit car.
But if you are a car nut, London can be a tricky place to enjoy your passion. First off you need to be lucky enough to own a driveway and (preferably) a garage. Then there’s a strong chance it will only be big enough for a single car – which all means that space to look after your pride and joy will be at a premium.
Owning a classic, track-day or kit car is straightforward if your chosen motor is ‘all-up-together’ and your hobby only extends as far as checking tyre pressures, oil levels and giving it the odd polish between road-trips. But for most enthusiasts the absolute essence of petrolhead heaven is the tinkering. The hours of cleaning, servicing, dismantling, rebuilding, tweaking, torquing and tuning. At the extreme end of that – building a kit car from scratch – is the ultimate expression of amateur automotive achievement.
Kit cars come in all shapes and sizes. From the famous Lotus based Caterham 7 and ‘James Dean’ Porsche 356 Spyder to the more obscure – such as the Mini-moke or Blitzsworld Outback. You can usually buy them ready built – but where’s the fun in that? If you do decide to go for it, you’ll also need a donor vehicle – usually a standard production car that you cannibalise to provide the engine, drivetrain, suspension and steering of your soon-to-be-created new wheels.
Our all-time favourite kit has to be the Hawk HF 3000.
It’s a highly accurate replica of the iconic 1970’s Lancia Stratos Rally Car. And a kit is yours for under £15,000 + donor vehicle for the engine and gearbox (they recommend the fabulous 3.0 litre Alfa Romeo v6 to push it along).
Here’s what Top Gear think of the real Lancia Stratos…
Or you could watch Clarkson’s tongue-in-cheek test of a Hawk Replica – in which (in his own inimitable style) he points out that a kit car is only ever as good as the person who built it. Which means of course (as with any kit car build) you’ll need to be very organised. Which means using available space really well. Which means not the parts you don’t need yet stacked around the place, getting in the way. What you might need then, if you are in London and build space is tight, is an extra store room.
Room you can find through renting a storage unit at ABC Selfstore. You can use it to keep all the parts that you’ll be using later in your kit-car build, in pristine factory fresh condition. Body panels for example – you don’t want them getting scratched or damaged. And donor car components that you’ve stripped down – such as suspension parts or a steering rack – will just be in the way until you need them.
Finally, if you are embarking on your first kit-car build there’ll be a whole community of people who’ve been there, done it and bought the T-shirt. About-kit-cars.co.uk or Pistoheads.com are great places to start.