Suggestions on how to do research
What are you expecting from the car? Do you only want it for car shows? Do you only want to drive it around locally once in a while? Do you want reliability? How much time do you have to put into the building process yourself?
Definition of a kit car is: to find the cheapest way to produce something that looks expensive. If you think about it, this is the reason for the kit car industry.
The most important part of your research is realizing that the chassis is what determines how safe the car is, remember that our industry does have to meet any safety standards. The original was declared unsafe back in 1968.
I just finished studying other web sites and would like to clarify a few important points.
1. In the article, the use of round tubing discussed is better than square tubing. Emphasis is placed on the materials used not on the design of the part used. Look at a suspension bridge or think back, taking science in school and what can be done with an egg.
2. Is aluminum really stronger than fibreglass? Are they comparing strength by weight or the gauge of it? Can aluminum take much flexing without cracking?
3. They are promoting saving weight is very important. The bodies are very light but supported by (light) tubing underneath to give the strength. If the car remains light, how is the strength achieved by using light tubing. What would happen if you were involved even in a low speed accident? They claim fibreglass has less strength than aluminum which has less strength than steel (going by thickness)?
4. I did a little research on obtaining a donor car. I found that the wrecking yards did not want to sell me the whole car but rather separately. I thought about buying one from an insurance company but no luck. Found out that most insurance company's have contracts with wrecking yards to take all of their write off vehicles.
5. I also read on the web site about copying the original design because of the racing experience that the designers had and it would be better to copy the design rather than come up with their own. They should include in the article about the designers admitting that the car did not handle well, the frame flexed so much that it tried to take the corners on three wheels, it was too hot driving, melted shoes on the firewall, but it won races by passing cars on the straights. You have to decide before it is too late whether or not you only want a cheap race car or something you can drive safely on the street.
6. I studied the pictures of the frame and found that all the tubing they had supporting the body made the frame look like it was elaborate but it is not really anything to do with the actual frame itself. The frame itself is still a simple ladder bar design that will flex a lot.
7. It sounds good and is good that the drawings were made up on C.A.D. It is very easy to use a C.A.D. program to make drawings and have them accurate. Actually it is a lot easier & faster than making drawings by hand. What is misleading is that C.A.D. used in making the drawings has nothing to do with the design itself. It takes an engineer to design the part, then it has to be made and then it has to be tested in real life. The Big Three have multi-million dollar testing programs that can test a part or a combination of parts on the computer but not many companies can afford one. In conclusion, they indicated that they found it better to copy the original design and then they state that they have a C.A.D. designed car. Which one is it?
8. I also have been exposed to the Mustang GT itself by people I know who own or have owned one. Most have had problems with both the rear end and the trans. The motors have stood up fine. I also read that you would be better off using a small block rather than a big block which is very expensive. What they did not tell you is that you can purchase a big block Ford drop in crate motor (with more HP than the Mustang) for as little as $1800. What most companies are doing when they recommend using a small block, is that their chassis is not designed to take the power & torke that big block motors normally produce.
9. The straight line (drag racing) performance comparison graphs was good because it compared itself to cars that weigh 175% more. There are many high performance Mustangs that run a lot better times and are still driven on the street.
10. What is the best buy? In the kit car industry it means to be the cheapest one that still looks like the Cobra.
Any of the cars that are talked about (on the web site that I studied) that have impressive coverage in the magazine articles dealing with performance, have been special built (a lot of things changed) but is not what you would be buying. I hope you get the idea of how misleading-leading claims can be.
What happens when you buy a cheap kit?
First you have to consider the donor car that is recommended and how much you can purchase one for. How many miles on it? Most cars were designed to last only 120,000 miles because then they want you to buy a new car.
The next step is to determine if you are going to use important items like the brake lines & hoses. Items like the brake hoses, master cylinder, calipers & rotors should be determined to be re-used or replaced. How long the car has been sitting (calipers can seize) and how much wear is on the rotors. What kind of shape are the bushings on the control arms you are going to be re-using.
What condition is the radiator, rear end, & gas tank in?
If the donor car has fuel injection, you have to ask the kit manufacturer if they supply the wire harness to include the computer system that runs the fuel injection system.
What you should do is make a list of all the items you have to remove & reuse from the donor car. These are the items you should examine when purchasing the donor car.
When you are doing a comparison these are items to consider.
* How well it handles & how good the ride is, is only determined by the design of the chassis.
* Does it have an adequate brake system, In a car like this you want the best brake system available. Do they have an option for a better brake system? You can not just take a brake system out of another car and re-use it on a car that is completely different. Weight distribution, total weight, spring rates, tire size and much more are important factors in choosing the right brake system.
* Why consider power brakes? How strong are your legs?
* Power steering? How strong are your arms & how fast can you move them? Remember you will be compelled to drive with two hands at low speeds and shift at the same time. How close to the door does the steering wheel come?
* Safety fuel cell? Is it an option? Where is it located? Why is the fuel filler not on the fender?
* Does the roll bar come standard equip or option? Is the roll bar attached to the frame? If not, how much would they charge to do it? Does it come painted or chrome plated?
* How strong is the frame? Will it twist? What engine is recommended to use, suggests that is all the frame is designed to take.
Other items worth considering
Chrome door sills?
Chrome all the way around the engine compartment?
light under the hood & trunk?
grills in front?
10 gauges rather than 5. Why a dash panel rather than mounting directly to dash?
stereo / speakers included?
cooling system why is the rad vertical? why that big a rad?
enough support under the nose along with a skid plate?
Are the bumpers included or are they an option?
Do the headers / side pipes come un-coated - chrome plated - or S/S?
Why a full interior rather than ....
why are WCC seats more comfortable than original design?
Why trim mouldings around the cockpit?
Why return lips on the wheel wells?
Why do we sit you down in the car?
Measure distance from bottom of steering wheel to seat / floor. It it enough?
Why wider? why longer?
Why are the seat belts bolted to the frame?
Why that big a trunk?
why is the battery in the trunk?
Items to determine it they come with the kit
- are they an option - or do I have to supply?
You have to determine just how many parts you have to supply yourself before you can get a accurate cost of the whole project. You also have to determine how much of the building process you can do yourself without sending it out to be done. It has been recommended by all magazines dealing with kit cars that you purchase the most complete package that company has to offer. It will be cheaper in the long run.
Unless you have already built a kit car, it is very hard to determine exactly what parts you would have to supply and how much it will cost you to complete the project.
all the hardware to hook up the motor eg. fan belts, rad hoses, hose clamps?
are the brakes bled?
Heater defroster system installed?
Brake hoses (average $25 ea.) need 5
After narrowing your choice down to 1 or 2 start planning a visit. It is recommended that you Get in touch with the company(s) you have narrowed it down to and find out if they have a customer in your area you could talk to and visit them to have a look at their car. Thank goodness for the internet, you can communicate with customers all over the country at no cost.
Some of the questions to ask the refered customer
First you want to determine from that customer what his role is by asking him questions to see if his car is for sale or if he is willing to build you one. This is not a foolproof way of determining his role, but it helps. Some companies have reps or dealers they refer you to. Nothing wrong with it, but you still have to determine their role and if they anything to gain or not by giving you the answers you want to here.
How many kits have you built?
What did you have to supply yourself other than the motor / trans? (seperate the items that deal with motor/ trans).
How do you feel the car rides?
What is the longest trip you have taken in your car?
Was there any technical help from the factory while building? How much? What are the hours that they are available? How long did it take them to get back to you if no one was available?
How many B/O's were there?
Did they let you know before delivering your car, that there was any B/O's?
How long did it take for the B/O's to arrive?
How much research did you do?
Why did you pick this one?
Something to consider: Anyone who determines they made the wrong choice after completing the project (or almost) is not going to tell you or anyone else they made the wrong choice. A way of finding out more, is ask them if they were going to build another one for themselves would they chose the same brand to do over or consider building another brand.
A lot of questions that people ask, include:
Are the parts supplied new or used?
Is this included? The same question is asked about several different items. This is the main question most people ask.
People want to have a better idea (some exact) as to the total cost to build.
Do I need any special tools?
What else do I have to provide?
What else do I have to do to finish the car. You need to know ahead of time if you have to visit wrecking yards & parts stores by asking exactly what parts do I have to supply myself. You also need to know ahead of time if you have to re-build parts yourself and if you have the right tools to do the job.
A List of Questions to Ask the companies
When you call the manufacturer, let them know you need to talk to someone for more technical information on their car.
____ What engine / trans do you recommend using?
____ Exactly how much will it cost me to have it delivered to my door?
____ Is there any crating charge? ____ If so, how much?
____ How close is your body to the original? (Make sure you say body not car).
____ Can a 6'4" person fit in comfortably without having to modify anything?
____ Is the dash fibreglass? ____ Is glassed in or is it removable to service?
The reason that you are asking this question is that the dash is a very important structural member to strengthen the body side to side.
____ Is the fibreglass hand laid or do you use a chopper gun?
____ How thick is the fibreglass?
____ Will two sets of golf clubs fit in the trunk?
____ Do you supply all of the interior upholstery?
____ Is the tunnel carpeted or upholstered?
____ Is the dash upholstered?
____ Is there trunk carpeting?
____ How much body work is left? ____ How many hours?
____ If I had you take care of the body work & a decent paint job, how much?
____ Does that include the stripe & clear coat?
____ How close is your frame to the original?
____ What front suspension do you use?
____ Are all the suspension bushings new?
____ Do you have coil overs as standard equipment? ____ Available option?
____ What brake system do you use on the front?
____ What brake system do you use on the rear?
____ Does the complete brake system come with the kit?____ Installed?
____ Does it have power brakes?
____ Are the brakes bleed when I get it?
____ What rear end is included in your kit? ____ What gear ratio?
____ Do you install new bearings & seals?
____ Is the radiator included? ____ What size is it, 3-core or 4-core?
____ What fan(s) do you supply? ____ Do you know the cfm?
____ Is tilt steering available?
____ Are the door latches mounted directly to the frame?
____Can you install the doors to the frame without the body beeing mounted?
____ Do you offer power steering?____ Is it standard or an option?
____ Is the roll bar an option?
____ Is the roll bar mounted to the frame? ____ Chrome plated or painted?
____ Are front / rear overriders (bumperettes) included?
____ Are the front / rear bumpers included?
____ Does it come with the gauges?
____ Is the heater / defroster system included? ____ Is it installed?
____ Are the mirrors included?
____ Is the wiper motor / arms / blades / mounting hardware included?
____ Do you supply the stereo? ____ (if not) where would I install it, if I wanted one?
____ What is the recommended size of wheels & tires to use?
____ What options would I have to order from you to complete my car?
____ Exactly what else do I have to add myself? (this answer will probable be quite vague because they may not want you to know)
____ Can you give that list to me in writing? (Chances are you will hear an excuse)
This is a list of questions to ask over the phone. If you know the answer to the question you don't necessarily have to ask but you might still want to verify it.
I know it takes a lot of research to even determine what questions to ask, let alone know the answers. When you ask a manufacturer these questions, you are actually putting them on the spot to answer you. The purpose of these questions is not to have them justify to you as to why they use cheap parts or why the do not supply the item, but for you to add up all the pieces of the puzzle to determine if this product meets your expectations. We get caught up in all the excitement and forget to ask important questions before it is too late.