It could be argued that the U.K. is the World’s centre for Kit Cars, certainly there have been and still exists more kit car manufacturers in the U.K. than any other country. The car that kick started the movement, post WWII, was the Colin Chapman’s iconic Lotus 6 which soon evolved in to the famous Lotus 7. This basic design inspired many lookalikes which still form the backbone of the U.K. kit car scene today. And the 7 itself is still soldiering on, in grown up form, as the Caterham 7.
I have always been interested in kit cars although not sufficiently enough to own one; I have greatly admired those enthusiasts who have committed time and money to designing and building their own cars then starting companies based upon batch production. Only a very few have survived past the early days of enthusiasm over common sense but those that have and Westfield is prominent among them, have established very successful companies with respected reputations.
My own personal favourite, in my youth, was the Rochdale Olympic. With its compact, curvaceous, fibreglass body it can still turn heads today.
The definition of a Kit Car
A Kit Car, as the name implies, starts life as a kit of parts supplied by a Kit Car manufacturer such as Caterham, Westfied etc. As I have said above there are is a very wide selection of kit car manufacturers in the U.K. They cater for all tastes, whether that be a replica Lamborghini or a dune buggy. The kit is normally purchased by a competent enthusiast, competent in the sense of being able to bolt together all the component parts so that at the end of the process he or she has a functioning motor car which can be used on the road subject to obtaining an IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval). In some cases the major mechanical units such as engine, gearbox and drive train are supplied brand new with the kit: an alternative to this is for the purchaser/builder to buy these parts from a scrap yard, re-conditioner or to buy a donor car and strip the required parts him/herself.
Here are some photos of Kit Cars which I have taken at Stoneleigh and Donnington Kit Car meetings in the last few years –