The National Kit and Performance Car Show took place at Donington Park
Several immaculate Lamborghini replicas took pride of place at the entrance to the show
Replicas of supercars, like this Countach, are popular due to their usability and low running costs
Achieving this kind of finish is a costly business, however
Countach kits are growing in popularity as the value of the real cars increases exponentially
Rover V8 engines are commonly used in Countach replicas
Turismo UK launched its Avalanche GT kit for the Mk2 Toyota MR2
The kit consists of bolt-on panels; it's one of several new 'panel kits' offered
Hawk Cars displayed its stunning Lancia Stratos replicas
AK Sportscars manufactures Cobra replicas
The company offers complete turn-key cars too
Jaguar running gear is used in AK's Cobras
This particular example was fitted with a 430bhp 6.2-litre LS3 engine from General Motors
This RV Nemesis kit features a 5.3-litre Jaguar V12
Power output is rated at 350-380bhp
Stunning Ultima CanAm packs a supercharged Chevrolet V8 that produces in excess of 650bhp
This particular car is designed to exceed 200mph
It's hard to argue with the performance credentials of kit cars like this Ultima
This Lamborghini Countach replica is a Mirage Mk2
This red example uses a 5.0-litre Rover V8
Upgrades include wider front wishbones, which give the car track closer to that of the original
The Ultima GTR was inspired by Group C Le Mans cars
The Veranti, on the right, is a Jaguar XK8-based Aston Martin Vanquish replica
This Veranti is a one-off conversion
Bike engines have become increasingly popular in lighter kit cars
AK Sportscars also showed off a supercharged Cobra
Edelbrock's new E-Force supercharger kits are offered for several recent American V8s
AK Sportscars also sells parts so you can build, or upgrade, a kit Cobra
Hawk's Stratos kits start at around £11,500
Lister Bell Automotive was also displaying its Lancia Stratos replica
The attention to detail, and fit and finish, is impressive
The event ran for the entire weekend and featured displays, parts suppliers and demonstrations
Tribute Automotive supplies MX-5 and BMW Z3-based panel kits
It wouldn't be a kit car show without a classic VW-based beach buggy
RPS offers body conversion kits for classic MGs
The Lamborghini replicas typically feature a tubular steel spaceframe and double-wishbone suspension
The AMG Murtaya uses Subaru Impreza running gear
Bertini has begun manufacturing panel kits for the BMW Z3
Bertini-branded seats and door cards are available to match
The panel kit itself costs £3750
Complete Kit Car magazine staged a 48-hour build of the new Bertini GT25 panel kit
Panel kits are exempt from IVA tests so, once assembled, you can drive them straight away
Coolex Heat Transfer offered upgraded and restored radiators
This Lotus Seven replica was built for £4500
It uses Ford suspension parts and is powered by a heavily tuned Crossflow engine
The car is an excellent example of what can be achieved on a budget
Off-road and track-focused specials were also on display
The classic Nova kit car uses a VW Beetle floorpan
This Roadrunner SR2 kit uses MX-5 running gear
The MX-5 makes a great donor for a kit car, thanks to its durable powertrain and range of tuning parts
The high-performance nature of many bike engines makes them ideal for track-focused lightweight cars
Exoskeletal-style cars are becoming increasingly popular and help attract younger buyers
This UVA M6 GTR is a replica of the rare road-going McLaren M6; power comes from a 4.6-litre Rover V8
DC Supercars manufacturers replicas of the Lamborghini Diablo
DNA Automotive produces this Mercedes SL-based Ferrari California replica
The company also offers Ferrari 360 and 430 panel kits
Hawk Cars builds this AC Ace replica; engine options include a BMW straight six
Specialist parts on offer included fuel filler systems
One of several displays was this 'kit car rescue', where a team worked to restore a neglected car
Gardner Douglas Sports Cars manufacturers several high-end kit cars
Ferrari 430 Spiders are popular replicas, judging by the number at the show
This Gardner Douglas T70moda was powered by a 608bhp, 7.0-litre LS7 V8
It uses a six-speed Porsche GT2 transaxle to send drive to the rear wheels
Cars for young and older enthusiasts were on display
danST engineering offered bike carb and intake manifold conversion kits
The starter kit for the GBS Zero costs upwards of £2345
Both Ford and Mazda-based versions are offered
GBS offers factory-built cars too
The Mazda MX-5 engine in your GBS not quite enough for you? How about a supercharged Honda S2000 engine?
Westfield's Mega S2000 also features a Honda S2000 engine
The XCS 427 is a 630bhp spaceframe replica of a Cobra
It uses an advanced camber compensation and anti-roll suspension system
Power is sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed Tremec gearbox
The car can accept Ford and Chevrolet engines
Enigma offered this MX-5 panel kit
Micra light clusters feature at the rear
The kit costs around £6000
If you needed a part for your kit car, it's likely one of the suppliers would have it to hand
Kit Spares offers everything from wiring through to complete engines
Pre-owned Gardner Douglas Cobra replicas are available; we saw a 2005 example on sale for £43k
Rebellion Developments is looking to build a more modern Countach replica
Features will include modern electrics, air-con and, eventually, electronic power steering
The aim is to make its Countach replica are more usable car
Power comes from the venerable Rover V8, although others could be offered
The kit still uses Renault's UN1 transaxle, which features in many mid-engined kits
Several owners' clubs attended the show
More AC Cobra replicas were on display in the show field
Many would be pushed to tell the difference between a replica and an original
Three-wheelers featured, including the classic 2CV-based Lomax (front)
These particular three-wheelers are Blackjack Avions
Blackjack still offers three-wheelers today
Several Covin Porsche 911 Turbo replicas were present
Covin Porsches use a shortened VW Beetle chassis
This one used a four-cylinder Ford engine; others use VW Beetle engines or original Porsche engines
This Ferrari 360 replica is based on a 1995 Toyota MR2 Turbo
It's claimed to produce around 280bhp
Many builders make use of OEM badging, trim and wheels to enhance the appearance of the car
Owners cite running costs, reliability and damage concerns as reasons for owning replicas like these
It was evident that much time and money had been ploughed into many of the replicas
This high-performance two-piece brake disc set-up is fake, and merely shields the conventional disc beneath
There were myriad Ferrari replicas on display at the kit car show
This Fiero-based F40 replica drew a lot of attention
This is the Triple C Challenger E-type replica
It uses many original Jaguar parts, including XJ6 suspension, a 4.2-litre straight-six and a four-speed overdrive gearbox
The estimated build cost for this example is £19k
This Lancia Stratos replica looked superb in Alitalia livery
It was the sole example of its kind in the display field on Saturday
Numerous Westfields were on display, from old to new
Haldane offered replicas of classic ACs, including the 100 and 3000
Many Marlins were on display
Marlin continues to offer affordable sports car kits
This Ford GT40 replica was beautifully executed
The creed of the enthusiastic kit car builder
The National Kit and Performance Car show, which took place at Donington Park race circuit at the weekend, offered visitors an eclectic mix of kit and sports car activities.
The event, organised by Performance Publishing, which produces Complete Kit Car magazine, has been running for a number of years.
Ian Stent, editor of Complete Kit Car magazine, said: "We've got the big guns of the UK kit car industry here – like Gardner Douglas, Hawk, Great British Sports Cars and Westfield – as well as plenty of parts suppliers.
"What we try to do is take full advantage of the circuit, with racing going on all weekend, as well as offering a mix of displays and demonstrations."
Of particular interest on the Gardner Douglas Sports Cars stand was the T70moda, a car that takes inspiration from the CanAm-winning Lola T70. The beautifully presented example packs a 602bhp 7.0-litre LS7 engine, a Porsche GT2 six-speed transaxle and weighs 950kg.
Great British Sports Cars was also drawing much attention, with the likes of its 'Zero' kit appealing to many buyers. Prices for its small Seven-alike kit start at £2345, and include key components like the chassis, wishbones and body panels, with the remainder of the running gear primarily coming from a Ford donor vehicle.
Many more modern-engined kits were on display too, reflecting the adoption of more recent and common donors as older options, such as the Ford Crossflow, become harder and more expensive to source and maintain.
Engine options offered – and in some cases complete powertrain and suspension set-ups – included those from Mazda MX-5s, the Honda S2000 and the E36 and E46 generation of M3. Numerous Chevrolet V8-engined cars featured too.
"For many it's about the running costs," notes Stent. "We've had people coming from the real cars into replicas because they couldn't justify spending the money on insuring and servicing them.
"With a replica there are compromises but you can service it yourself, get the bits easily and you don't have to worry about where you leave it at the end of the day.
"There are quite a lot of cars here that aren't replicas or standalone kits as well," adds Stent. "The other side of the industry that we see a lot more of now is companies offering panel kits, like the Bertini."
These new panel kits allow builders to rapidly finish a project and end up in a position where they can immediately drive the car. The changes are only cosmetic so the car doesn't require a costly IVA – Individual Vehicle Approval – test.
In the case of the £3750 Bertini, buyers simply replace the body panels on the BMW Z3 base car to end up with a dramatically different looking car. As well as being easier, this kind of project is also typically cheaper than many complete kits.
Similarly, Turismo UK unveiled its Avalanche GT kit for the Mk3 Toyota MR2 roadster at the show. The panel kit, which simply bolts on to the MR2, results in a much more aggressive-looking and distinctive car.
"It's been tough for the industry recently, with the pressures of an ageing population, the recession and the legislative challenges," says Stent. "We can accommodate and adapt to it though – and the right companies are doing big business, and on increasingly expensive cars too."
This fact is borne out by the fact that many of the high-end replicas and kits command significant price tags – a Fusion XCS 427 Cobra, for example, will set you back more than £80,000 in turn-key form. Several of the Cobra replica manufacturers have waiting lists more than a year long, further demonstrating the popularity of such cars.
"Part of the difficulty the industry has is its identity," says Stent. "There are cars here that cost £2000 and those that cost £100,000. It appeals to many different people but that by its nature causes problems for the manufacturers when it comes to promoting and understanding their market."
One key argument for building a kit car – in order to get yourself a fast, affordable car – appears long dead too, further making business challenging.
"People used to build Duttons because they couldn't afford an expensive sports car," says Stent. "They'd get a Cortina, take all the bits off it and have something that went really quite fast. Nowadays you can buy a Porsche Boxster for £5000 or a Subaru Impreza for £1500.
"What the industry is about today is a hobby. The argument for spending £10,000 on a Seven-style car for performance reasons is nowhere near as strong as it used to be. But if it's your hobby and you do it because you enjoy it, learn new skills, go touring, attend meets and so on, then the money doesn't matter.
"This is why you'd most likely spend money on a kit car now; for a leisure-time activity and a hobby – not a means to an end, to get a fast car, like it would have been previously."
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