Many car enthusiasts dream of owning a six figure luxury car. However, the cost is usually far out of reach for most of these dreamers. Others dream of owning a car that exists only in their dreams. They envision all the features they would love in a car but can’t seem to find.
The best way to satisfy these ideas is to build a custom car from scratch. It seems daunting, and it is, yet many people that are good at fixing cars themselves could also build one. There are many resources that help and plenty of new materials that make building a car easier than ever.
In this article, we will go over what you need to know to build your own car from the wheels up.
1. Car building kits
The most obvious way to get started is to invest in a car building kit. Think of it like building a model car except one that is actual size and works when it is done. They are complete with materials and instructions that take you through the entire process.
If you have a specific type of car that you would like to buy then a car kit is a good way to go. This allows you to buy a car that would normally cost over six figures for less than half of that.
Another bonus is that car kits are for car builds that will be street legal when they are finished. Building a car on your own may have you stuck with a car that isn’t street legal. A car kit avoids that issue.
The downside is that you are limited to the materials that are provided in the kit. You could love the idea of the custom building capability of carbon fiber for a lightweight car, but are stuck with whatever the material from the kit is.
2. Street legal
You can forgo the kit and either build your own car, or even use a frame from an older car and customize the rest of the body and engine for it. However, there is a risk of it not being street legal.
There are three main criteria when it comes to the car being considered street legal: crash avoidance, crashworthiness, and post-crash survivability. This limits the design and the choice of materials for starters. It also limits you if you aren’t really sure if you can make the car roadworthy and safe.
The NHTSA is responsible for making sure that cars are approved and have a rigorous list of what being street legal entails. It is up to you to make sure that you follow their guidelines before you set out to build a custom car.
There are also state laws to follow with regards to the noise they make as well as things like the exhaust. Check your local ordinance also. Lastly, insurance is a bit tricky so you should also check with the state laws regarding what kind of insurance is required if you build your own.
3. DMV requirements
Each state has its own Department of Motor Vehicles with different requirements for registering and insuring your custom car. If you are building from scratch then you need to have a VIN which is the unique vehicle number for your car.
Without this number it won’t be possible to register so driving the car will be illegal. Usually, a car you would register would have this number from the manufacturer. Your car won’t so it is a bit tricky to get. The process required to get a VIN or register without one is going to depend on your state’s regulations. Some will allow you to have a notarized affidavit for the car others will need more than that.
4. Selling the custom car
A self built car will usually have a lot of value due to the customizations that make it unique. As such, it could be a very good investment that pays well. If you wish to sell the car then you need to know how that works since it is different from a traditional one.
For instance, in California it is illegal to sell a self built car. Even where it is legal, you are getting into some highly regulated territory. Since you built the car yourself, you are a car manufacturer. Some states don’t allow car manufacturers to sell direct to the public. You may be required to sell it to a dealer who will then be able to sell it to the public.