Kit-car and replica difference

What is a kit-car and how does it differ from a replica?


Everyone dreams about a car like a Bugatti or a Lamborghini. These cars are extremely expensive, but there is always room for creativity if you are not a millionaire. That is where replicas and kit-cars come in to play. We’re outlining the difference between kit-cars, replicas, and unauthorized copies in this article.

A kit-car is a do-it-yourself-vehicle made up of a set of spare parts available from other cars, usually with a unique fiberglass body. In the USA many kit-cars were based on either a Pontiac Fiero or a Volkswagen Beetle chassis. The kit-car boom started in the 1960s with the premieres of such cars as the Ferrari 330 and the Ford GT40. The start of their production fostered the release of lookalikes and copies produced all over the world. The 1970s followed with replicas of the Bat-Mobile and the Italian icon of style, the Lamborghini Countach.

Officially, copies like such don’t infringe upon trademarks in place by auto manufacturers as they aren’t advertised as the vehicle they replicate. Let’s clarify what vehicle a replica is: a vehicle that is similar to another model, but often with different technical specifications and similar bodywork. 

The most recent famous replica was fabricated by a man from Orlando, Florida who designed a copy of a Bugatti Veyron on the base of a 2002 Mercury Cougar and placed it for sale on Craigslist. The price for this replica is steep at $125,000, but the author hasn’t lost his hope to sell it despite the fact that it still runs on the ‘02 Cougar engine: a 170 horsepower V6. Eric Bonnette, the creator of the Bugatti replica, invested $90,000 in his vehicle and got hundreds of calls while the car was on Craigslist, though, none of the potential buyers have come through.

Randy Morrow did the same. He created a very detailed copy of an Italian Lamborghini Murciélago and priced at $40,000, stating his decision was motivated by his desire to buy a Corvette. While buying a Lamborghini Murcielago can be cost-prohibitive for most, it is quite possible to buy an American legend even cheaper. 

Usually, people who buy replicas are aware of what they’re purchasing, and replicas are mainly made for having fun. Sometimes, a replica makes its way to auction and a prospective buyer may be confused seeing an expensive car on sale for far less than they’d expect. Replicas and kit-cars usually carry the VIN of the car they were built around but some kit-cars even may not have one. Always run a vehicle backup examination with the help of a ClearVIN VIN Check Report to make sure you know what you’re buying. Their VIN decoder provides up-to-date and relevant details you need to know about the vehicle background.

Not all kit cars and replicas come marked, however. In Brazil in 2019, a father and son team were running a commercial enterprise that illegally produced Ferrari and Lamborghini replicas. Local police arrested the two men and found eight remaining unauthorized copies of prestigious Italian sports cars which were sold at unbelievably cheap prices ranging from $45,000 to $60,000. This speaks to our earlier point of running a VIN check: better safe than sorry.

Kit cars are few and far between at Salvagebid, but we can help you own your dream car. If your dream is to own a sports car like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari, start by filtering your results with our vehicle finder. You may be able to find your dream car at a fraction of the cost of a brand new sports car.

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