Is it actually possible to build a car from scratch? If you’ve ever sat and wondered this, then we’re here to help.
We’re taking a look at the complicated world of DIY car projects, bringing you essential tips and insights which can help kickstart your own build. Giving you an idea of cost, timescales and practical routes to go down, this guide is here for anyone thinking of taking on a car building project.
- How Easy is it to Build a Car from Scratch?
- Tips on How to Start a Car Build Project
- How Much Does it Cost to Build a Car?
- How Long Does it Take to Build a Car?
- Where to Go for Help and Advice on Building a Car?
- Kit Cars: How Much Do They Cost and Long Do They Take to Build?
So, you want to build a car? It goes without saying that it’s a huge undertaking, requiring boot loads of time, money and, in most cases, serious mechanical know-how.
But that’s not to say that building a car is impossible for those with less experience under the bonnet. Depending on the route you go down, the project could end up being much simpler than you think – provided you follow instructions and seek out pro help when you need it.
The main issue people looking to build their own car often run into is a lack of resources, be it time, money or space. So, before you take on a DIY car build, ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I have a big enough budget to see the project to completion?
- Do I have the right kind of space for carrying out a car build?
- Do I have time to work on the project and see it through to the end?
In the early stages of planning your project, we’d recommend the following as good starting points to tick off:
- Explore similar projects – the internet will be your best friend throughout your car build, providing inspiration ahead of the project and help and advice during. Head online and research projects that are similar to your own; YouTube is a great starting point, with loads of channels dedicated to showing the realities of building a car from the ground up.
- Research the cost – have a look at all the different options and see which best suits your budget; this will give a clear ballpark of how much you’ll likely need to spend. It can help to put different items in a spreadsheet, so you can tot up the prospective cost of things like tools, parts and accessories as you go along.
- Make up a prospective timeline – try to work out how long your car build will take by breaking the project up into milestones. For example, constructing the chassis may be the first goal, with the engine build being the next. Be realistic here, setting flexible timescales in line with your own skill level.
How much your car build will cost depends on the avenue you choose to go down, with costs varying wildly due to things like:
- The tools and equipment you already have
- Whether you’re building a car completely from scratch or rebuilding an old one
- If you require pro help for some aspects of the build
- Whether you need to pay rent on a workshop or garage space
- How cheaply you can source parts and components
- How many unexpected issues end up complicating your project
- The number of parts you’ll need to realise your vision
With so much to consider when plotting a budget for your car build project, you can see why pre-planning is so important. Even when you think you’ve factored in every eventuality, there’ll always be unforeseen costs you didn’t anticipate, so be realistic with your budget and be sure to have cash ready in your back pocket for those out-the-blue expenses.
As with cost, the timeframe for your build hinges on the kind of project you’re looking for, as well as the amount of free time you have to spend on the build. And, just as with cost, your timeline could easily be affected by unforeseen issues and setbacks – so it’s important to be realistic about how long the build will take.
The kit car route will likely be the quickest route to go down for most people. With most, if not all, the parts you need coming in one box, and step-by-step instructions provided, it’s just a matter of finding the time to put all the pieces together.
Things get a little harder to predict from a timescale point of view when you move away from the kit car route. Whether you’re rebuilding an old car or have ambitious plans to build a car from scratch, bodywork fabrication and all, these types of projects will take the longest to complete due to:
- Planning and drawing up blueprints for the project
- Sourcing parts, tools and accessories
- Building complex components or carrying out time-intensive bodywork modifications
- Testing different parts and components to make sure they work safely
- Making sure everything fits together
A week, a month or a year; the timescale of your car build is entirely dependent on how much time you can give to the project, as well as the number of setbacks you have along the way.
As we touched on earlier, there’s never been a better time to start your own car build, with the web providing all the information, advice and resources you need to see the project through to completion. Here are some of the best online resources you should seek out when planning and working on your home car build:
- YouTube – whether you need inspiration or want to learn how to build or put together a certain component; YouTube is crammed with car building content that can set you on the right path.
- Dedicated car build sites – car lovers are a generous bunch and will often share whole guides and tips for free on different elements of building. Whether it’s Topspeed or Popular Mechanics, you’ll find all sorts of sites and blogs offering help and expertise on building your own car.
- Forums – talking through your car build with people who’ve taken on their own projects is one of the best ways to solve problems and take things to the next level. Start getting involved with different car build forums to get an idea of the realities of building your own car from the ground up.
Kit cars are probably the first thing you think about when building a car yourself. These ready-to-build cars usually come with all parts included, so you can get building right out of the box, all for a set price.
But just how much do kit cars cost, and how long do they take to build? To find out, we’re taking a look at three kit cars you can buy here in the UK.
Designed by Mills Extreme Vehicles (MEV), the Exocet is a kit car with a difference. The full kit costs £3,495, making it the cheapest on the market, though you will need to buy a Mazda MX5 ‘donor car’, which the MEV Exocet uses in its clever design. According to the MEV site, it takes just four hours to remove the monocoque shell from the MX5, and then it’s a case of following the instructions to replace it with the Exocet bodywork. A great beginner’s kit for those looking for a resources-light project.
AK Sports Cars
Always dreamt of owning a vintage Jaguar? Unless you have a couple of spare million in the bank, getting behind the wheel of a Cobra or XKSS is something only a handful will ever get to do. Having said that, you can get close, thanks to the brilliant kit cars offered by AK Sports Cars. Offering build-your-own variants of these classic Jaguars, the brand provides different kit options to suit your budget and skill level, ranging from around £4,695-£5,895. You can also choose to have them build the car for you, but the cost for this is POA only.
At the pricier end of the kit car market, Caterham was one of the first to bring self-assembly cars to the mainstream, with several of their classic models featured on BBC Top Gear. Caterham kit cars are expensive, with a complete package costing from around £24,000. With that, however, you get the expertise and quality of the Caterham team, full assembly instructions, and the pleasure of owning what many view as one of the world’s very best self-assembly cars.
And while we’re on the topic of Caterham, here’s an interesting time-lapse video of a Caterham kit car been assembled in the Top Gear Magazine office…
We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to car build projects, and that it inspires you to take the first steps towards your first build. For more motoring advice, or to learn about our fuel additives and system cleaners, visit the Redex website today.