This is one of the questions that I often get asked and to be honest there is not any clear-cut answer to this question.
I am by no means a mechanic, in fact, I am pretty bad at mechanicals. I understand how the basics work, but I can’t get very technical. However, I have had my kit car for 10 years now so I know what is needed to keep it on the road and to of course build one.
A lot of the skills I have picked up over the last 10 years or so has been from trial or error and to be honest a lot of the time it’s been the error. I once had to replace the clutch on my buggy, and it went well right up until the point where needed to depress the clutch. I had not bent over the lock tabs on the flywheel, and the clutch spun off the crank which was not great.
However, when I replaced the second time I managed to do it right and the clutch lasted a long time, well, in fact, it out lasted the engine, so I can’t have gone too far wrong.
So as you can tell my skills as a kit car owner/builder are most likely a lot worse than anybody who is reading this so don’t panic if you think you are not skilled enough to build a kit car because you probably are.
Some of the skills I did have when I built my kit car was that I had the eye for detail, and I like to get things perfect and so this helped as a lot of the time the repairs and modifications I would do to my kit car would actually be pretty good, and although they would be simple, they would work and look good. So having an eye for detail is very important, and if you have this the rest of the tasks will be a lot easier.
The other thing is that if you can’t do something, you can always pay someone else to come over and either do it or at least help you do it. What I will say though is that if you do it yourself, you will find it easier to repair and fix if things do break down.
One thing that I think is very important to either learn or have access to is a welder. If I could weld from the start of my build, it would have made things a little easier. Subsequently, I bought a welder, and lots of practicing have made me fairly competent, and at least I am better with an angle grinder than I am a welder, so I am able to clean up my mess …. I mean welds.
A lot of the skills you will need to build a kit car will depend on what type of kit car you buy, if you bought a Westfield, lotus seven type kit car, you would have to be capable to spray paint as a lot of it is gel coat fibre glass and a tubular chassis which in most cases is powder coated. However, if you bought a Ferrari type kit car, then you will need to be able to paint to a very high standard.
One of the skills that you will need is being very patient about everything it either takes three hours or three days when it comes to kit cars. You would not believe how many simple tasks have evolved into mammoth tasks and the then the huge tasks that you thought would take three days were completed very quickly.
Preparation is the key.
Make sure that you prepare for everything every task you need to do is make sure that you plan for it and make sure you have all the tools before you start. This will save you hours of wasted time trying to achieve something without the correct tools. Preparation makes up 90% of any task so this is important and don’t rush as you will probably have to do it again.
The next thing is make sure your tools, and parts are all organised there is nothing worse having to search around the garage looking for spanners as this will just waste time, and you will get frustrated. I bought a huge toolbox from Halfords and this has helped me stay organised and also means I don’t lose tools, which saves money in the long run.
Fingers crossed you have found this useful and probably realised that building a kit car is not actually hard and the only skill you really need is patience and an eye for detail.
I absolutely love owning a kit car and tinkering with it at the weekends is what makes owning one so much fun, although sometimes it does not feel that way once you have lost the skin on your knuckles and stubbed your toe on your toolbox but when you get what you are working on finished and working it is very satisfying.