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Nielken 30th April 2016 19:45

New to pretty Much everything! Help

So I'm new to all of this, kit cars, mechanics, everything.

Thing is I love cars, I want to be able to build, maintain and really get into customising my kit car eventually.

I appreciate my post might be frustrating, as most, if not all of you will have at least a baseline of knowledge. Thankfully I found this website and am starting to try to understand the world!

So, in order for me to go away and do effective research I thought I'd stop by and ask a few questions as I don't intend to spend money for another 18 months ish and in that time I'm going to research and plan my project.

1) Are there any particular manufacturers or cars that are considered to be for the rank amateur that will enable me to learn and enjoy the hobby?

2) Would you recommend going for a build from scratch to learn how everything goes together or buy something and learn how to maintain it etc as a first project that allows me to drive and tinker?

3) If there were three things I should absolutely do/read to prepare for my 'first time' what would they be.

Thanks massively in advance for everyone's help, looking forward to getting started!


Paul L 1st May 2016 09:24

Niel - Welcome to the forum. :cool:

Top 3 Things:
- Decide how much money you want to spend in total.
- Decide how much time you have available for the project.
- Decide how much work you want to do yourself vs. getting others to help you with.

As your kit choices are directly related to the answers to these questions.

I'm certainly no expert, but here is my very simplistic take on itů

These days kit cars fall into two broad categories:

Those that will require an IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) test at the end and those that do not.

IVA kit cars include all the Lotus 7 inspired models such as Caterham, Westfield, etc.

There is certainly a lot to be said for building one of these kits as every part is supplied new.

They will be supplied with a comprehensive instruction manual, a bit like a big Airfix model.

The only down side is that they are not cheap.

Kit cars that to not require an IVA tend to be either panel kits or a "re-body" which requires a donor car.

Again, just to keep things simple, the donor cars can be either old, or modern.

Tribute Automotive produce a range of "panel" kits based on a BMW Z3, including these SWB 250s.

Tribute also use an MX5 for their MX250, seen here next to Tribute's Z3 based Kobra.

The use of replacement panels can lead to a much faster build time.

The "rebody" route also allows for a radical transformation, from something like this.


To something like this.

Now this can require a LOT of work, especially if the donor car needs major repair/restoration.

I'd highly recomend reading Mister Towed's fantastic build tread here:

As it covers all the work he took on himself to transform a rusty donor car into this. :cool:

However, both Tribute and Sammio offer kits for Triumph Spitfires that keep most of the original car underneath.
( Which should reduce the build time, provided you have a good donor car to begin with. )


"New" Sammio Spyder

Sorry I haven't got time to go though any more points today.

But I would suggest you have a good look around the forum and read lots of build threads.

These will give you an idea of how the various different kits go together.

Hope that helps, good luck, Paul. :)

Nielken 1st May 2016 12:39

Thanks Paul!

Firstly - what a response!!!

So many things to consider.

Total money is always a consideration but I have a decent job and this will be a long term hobby so some of the projects examples you've given really excite me!

I do like the 7 based options and also the thought if having something newer (instinct says it will be more reliable but I am probably wrong) but some of the unique models above are just so special!

I'll read some of the build blogs you suggest and look at the options.

Thanks again buddy really appreciate the time you took to reply there. Extremely helpful!

softfeet 1st May 2016 16:41

It is not correct to say that cars that will require an IVA are built from kits where everything is supplied new.

Some are built from comprehensive kits (like Caterhams), many are not.

It is quite possible to scratch build a car and successfully pass IVA.

Many builders build their car's chassis themselves and fit used parts from breakers yards.


For example:

It is nothing to do with me, but I follow the build thread because I admire the amazing standard of work.

Paul L 1st May 2016 18:49

Softfeet - A warm welcome to you too. :cool:


Originally Posted by softfeet (Post 78137)
It is not correct to say that cars that will require an IVA are built from kits where everything is supplied new.

Which is why I didn't actually say that. :icon_wink:

I did use the word include when referring to IVA kits and previously stated this was my simplistic take.

You are completely correct to say that scratch/locost builds can also go through IVA for a lot less money than a Caterham.

So apologies if my reply was misleading, I certainly wasn't trying to send anyone down a more expensive route.

However, in my defence, Nielken stated he has new to mechanics, so, personally, I wouldn't suggest building a chassis from scratch as a first project. :eek:

Although, the one in the link you supplied is a work of art. :cool:

Note: I'm conscious the written word can come across a bit harsher than the spoken word.

So I want to be clear that I am not trying to have a go at you in any way, especially in a reply to your first post.

Cheers, Paul. :)

softfeet 1st May 2016 21:48

No problems, Paul. I think we are all in agreement.

Written words can lack the subtleties of the spoken word.

By the way, I have been following your build thread with interest - you are so nearly there, keep at it!

Nielken 1st May 2016 22:29

A chassis build would definitely be too much ��

Thanks again guys

Nielken 2nd May 2016 07:53

Okay so Paul - You've done it!

I have visited the Tribute Automotive website and immediately fell in love with the Kobra.

It is a thing of beauty!!!

One question...... Would this kind of project be suitable for track days too with the right customisation as this is something I would definitely like to do as part of my hobby.

If so...... I'm going to start researching

1) What makes a good donor car
2) How best to approach a build like this (Reading build logs like you said)

Having chosen this route have you got any more tips or pointers on essential reading?

Thanks again, I really appreciate your input!


Paul L 2nd May 2016 08:42

Softfeet - No worries & feel free to "drop by" my build thread, new posters are always welcome. :cool:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Niel - Try this thread for more example of Tribute Kobras (and a few other models):

- Posts #21 & #26 include links to any build threads on here
- Post #27 includes a link to a Z3 donor buyers guide thread
( Which I think could be summed up as anything other than the 1.9 engine. :icon_wink: )

"Own car" track days might take a little bit of research (as I've only done races, open practise & track days on 2 wheels).

But the little I do know seems to be:
- Any car with an MOT will be fine (so you don't need a roll cage).
- There will be noise restrictions (and these will vary depending on the circuit).
- You need to wear a helmet (& some venues will let you hire one from them).
- "Sensible" clothing seems to be the order of the day (so you don't need a racing suit).

As for the best way to approach this build:
- Personally, I would avoid trying to create a perfect Cobra clone.
- As this involves a lot of extra work on details that will not fool anyone who know what to look for.
- Everyone who doesn't know what they are looking at will just think it is a cool car.
- Buy the best donor you can afford and drive it around before you start.
- Get any issues sorted out before you start the build.
- Get a fresh MOT the day before you start the strip down.
- Which means you can technically drive it while under construction (see the SBW 250 under construction photos above).
Note: It still needs to be roadworthy when you do this.

Hope that helps.

Good luck, Paul. :)

When the time comes, start a build thread in the Tribute section of this forum.
Generally, the people on here are very helpful with advice, tips, suggestions, ideas, etc.
I know I would have abandoned my own build years ago without the encouragement I'd received from this forum. :cool:

Nielken 2nd May 2016 16:13

Some sound advice there Paul!

Things like getting a fresh MOT you just simply wouldn't think of as a novice like me ☺

Will definitely start a thread when I start, like I said will be about 18 months away just want to start familiarising myself with the world!

Thanks again guys

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