Car2Go – great program

Had meeting at City Hall. About a 20 minute walk. (Needed exercise) Finished meeting and rain was moving in. Walked out of City Hall, across street, used my Car2Go card and instantly had a vehicle to get me back to my office. What a concept.Car2Go Austin

eManual – finished Lights and Body Work and Paint

Spent the weekend finishing the section on installing all the lights. Decided to add a section on Body Work and Paint. That should be that last of it. Just need to create a web site for delivery. This will only be available on line.
Body Work and Paint in eManual

So you want to build a kit car? Part 3

Ok, we’ve talked about all the obstacles to overcome, the skill you need, the costs and where to get help. Now where do you get a kit? You see, Audi (owner of Lamborghini) got upset with the quality of the replicas, meaning some were very good, and their attorneys issued cease and deist orders to nearly all the manufactures. NAERC was actually sued by Audi. I get lots of inquiries if I can build a Gallardo, an LP640 or a Reventon for them?
(I am no longer building cars) but it is a legitimate question.

Are there kits available for these models? Short answer, maybe.

The Gallardo, I call, Lamborghini light, has a V10 and conventional doors instead of the scissor doors. I have only seen one company attempt to replicate the Gallardo and I have not seen any updates for over a year. The Murciellago model, latest version the LP640, is available from several sources. Now what about the Reventon? This car is Lamborghini’s signature car. They only made 20 of them and they sell for over $1 million. They have been replicated and at least one of them is very good. My concern there is Lamborghini is not going to let that go very far. An individual builder may not have issues but a manufacture may.
There are some companies in Europe that are still making kits and even some “off the grid” in the US. You can find partially completed kits as well as kits on eBay.

BE WARNED. There are lots of scammer’s out there who have lots of pictures on their website. Unfortunately, they take deposits and never deliver. There is one company out of Panama (see Scam Alert) on my website.

Always, Always, Always visit the manufacture or seller before paying for anything!

For those who want to build, check the for sale sections on the forums.
I’ve also listed a complete Builders package for a builder that has everything needed to finish a car. A rare find.

For those who want a turn key, (completed car) look at some new cars out there that have great looks that are unique designs such as the Vendetta.Venetta
This is from Gagliardi Designs.
Another builder is from Brazil, Scuderia Marinelli . He has a new car that will be released this spring that is going to be spectacular. Stay tuned.

eManual – Finished Wiring and Glass

Finished the Wiring section and completed the section on Glass. Need to do the review and add the audio tracks. Sample page

Now an experienced Car2Go user

Car2Go The City of Austin has an agreement for a pilot program where there are 200 Smart cars available for use by citizens and city employees.

I drive a Ford F250 Diesel extended cab truck that gets around 16 MPG. That vehicle is not easy to get in and out of garages or to park downtown.

I had a City meeting across town today so I used a Car2Go for the first time today.
You can reserve one on the web site or simply walk up to one that is parked on the street. If there is a green light on the reader or if you have reserved it, you simply hold your card up to a reader on the window and that unlocks the car. You get in, enter your PIN, answer some questions on the touch screen, it unlocks the glove box and you get the key. Start it up and away you go. They are all equipped with GPS navigation and even has credit card for you to fill up with gas. (They know who is using so don’t think of walking away with card). Even got to use the paddle shifters for changing gears. When finished, you park it in any valid parking spot, report if you had any issues on the touch screen, put the key in glove box, get out hold your card up to reader on the window, car is locked and you are done.
Total cost. $0.00. Diesel emissions 0. A very innovative solution. If you want to read more about the program, visit the car2go site.

eManual – Finished Interior started on Wiring

I finished the section on the Interior. Shows both the console installations for the 3 piece console in the 6.0 as well as the single console for the SV which has the integrated storage compartment. The wiring should be fairly straight forward. I say that on each new section I start and it always comes back to bite me. A single picture can all of a sudden expand to fill several pages of detail.

So you want to build a kit car? Part 2

Lambo Replica
Unfortunately the term “kit car” has been hung on these projects. This really is misleading. Normally when you buy a “Kit” to build something, there is an assumption that it will come with all the necessary parts and complete step by step instructions. This is definitely not the case with these vehicles.

Back to the “kit” concept.  When you open that box from Office Depot that is going to be a computer desk when all put together, in addition to the parts list, they normally give you a list of the tools you will need. You will need lots of tools to build a car.

Some of these can be expensive. Probably at the top of the list is a good welder. I would recommend a Mig welder as you do not have to deal with the slag found on an arc welder. I would also recommend a 220V version they typically will have a longer duty cycle. You will need a good set of sockets, both standard and metric. You will need an air compressor especially if you are going to paint the car. Even if you don’t paint it you have all that body work to do and the air tools will be invaluable. Then there are all the power tools. Drills, 3/8” and ½’, grinders, bench and hand held, heat gun, sanders, Dremel tools and a sawzall. Of course the usual screwdrivers of all kinds, wrenches, files, pliers, clamps, vice, hammer, pry bar, jack, jack stand, trouble light, etc.  Then there are all the consumables , like sanding pads, cut off wheels, cans of spray paint. Nuts, bolts, washers, thread lock, sand paper, fiberglass, resin, duraglass, Bondo, sheet metal and assorted tube steel.

Something else you will want to think about is what do you want the car to be. A lot of builders starts out wanting the car to be as realistic as possible. Then you begin to find little things like the heater controls or the location of the gas cap don’t look like the picture of the real one. The important thing to remember is this is your car. Make it what you want.

This leads me to another question I get asked. What is the best engine / transmission combination?  I go back to this is your car. What is necessarily right for me is not necessarily right for you. I’ve had people say they have to have at least 550 to 600 HP just like the real one. They’re not going to be sitting at a light and have a hopped up Civic beat them off the line.  So this speaks of two things. How deep are your pockets and what is your level of maturity?  If I’m sitting in what is perceived to be a quarter of a million dollar car, why would I want to race someone? What do I need to prove to a high school student? If I don’t respond to the challenge, they will always wonder. (OK, is teasing immature?)

There is also another misconception that all Diablo kits are the same. If you had purchased a used kit on Ebay and wanted to get the glass package, the glass from another manufacturer may not fit your car.  The shape of the doors / bumpers/ windshields all vary from manufacture to manufacturer. That is because some cars started off being sculpted while others were “splashed” from a real car.

So this raises the question, what parts do I need to buy and what are the part numbers. Again, this is your car. It depends on how you are building it as to what you need. (Remember there is no one set of instructions) One of the best things that has happened to this industry is the advent of the Internet. Not only can you Google “heat shields” but you can also do research and join a builder’s forum.  There are two sites that everyone who builds one of these cars should be familiar with.  KitCentral  and Lamboclone.  KitCentral and Lamboclone are forums where you can post questions and get feedback from lots of fellow builders who can share with you their knowledge. If you are new to either forum, please start off by using the search tool and reviewing the build diaries. The search feature is very helpful as most of the questions you have probably been asked and answered many times over.

So you want to build a kit car? Part 1

Over the years I have received countless emails asking about Kit Cars, how to build them , what does it cost, who is the best manufacture, etc.

I began to notice that my responses were pretty much the same so I thought I would put down some of my thoughts.

First of all, these are just my observations and my opinions. These have been shaped with my experience and the knowledge that I have gained building cars and working with other builders over the past years. My thoughts are not necessarily the only way to do things or maybe even the right way. Please take what you like and ignore the rest.

If you have never built a “Kit Car”, you really need to do lots and lots of research. Initially most people think these are similar to a model car that they built as a youngster, only it comes in a bigger box and costs more money. The more money part is right but that’s where it ends. A Lamborghini Diablo kit is probably one of the most complex kits to build. If you have ever done a restoration on a car and feel that would be a good starting point, it may be of some benefit, but probably not. Restorations involve removing factory parts and repairing or replacing them. All you need to do is line up the bolt holes and put it back together. There are no bolt holes on kit cars. You have to make your own.

At a car show in California, one of the builders stated that only 3% of the people who start these ever finish them. While I have nothing to confirm that, my time in the industry has seen that there are a lot more project are abandoned than finished. Why is that?

There are numerous reasons. First everyone wants to have the image of a $250,000 – $300,000 car for less than $15,000 total investment. While admirable to want to achieve this, it simply is not reality. The second part is that this is something that they would like to start in the Spring and be driving by the Fall. If these are being built as a hobby, plan on 4 to 6 years to finish it. If you are in a relationship and your partner does not support your efforts, take the time to evaluate your decision. I know of more than one builder who has had a relationship end because of these projects. If they do support it, plan on funding the new living room or bedroom suite as part of your cost. Speaking of costs, these projects are money pits. No matter what you budget, it is never enough.

Next look at your skill set and where you are going to build this. What kind of space do you have? If you are going to use a two car garage, it will be filled with parts and unusable to park the family vehicle for many years to come. Do you know how to weld? Do you know how to plumb a car? This means brakes, cooling, gas lines, hydraulic lines, A/C lines, air lines, solenoids etc. What about your electrical skills? Can you splice a wiring harness to a different engine? Can you install relays and diodes? What about working with fiberglass? Can you bond a metal frame to a piece of fiberglass? Have you ever worked with Duraglass?

Now let’s talk about engineering. Most kits come with limited instructions and you are inspired to engineer a solution. Where do you mount your air tank for you compressor? How do you put this together so that it is serviceable should something break? While in this phase you will begin to find that while you are walking though a Home Depot and spot the Gutter guard, you have an epiphany that those could be used for grills for the vent openings. Next you begin to look at third brake lights on everything that is in front of you when you are stuck in traffic. You look at the 300ZX that is coming toward you and trying to figure out is the small bulb on when they have the high beams on? You begin to look at taillights and wonder could I mold that in to the body to make something special?

And lets not even think about colors. The possibilities are endless.

Now, having said all that, everybody has to start somewhere. The point is that you need to set realistic expectations.

Just because you don’t have the skills doesn’t mean that you can’t learn. If your budget is limited, you need to think about doing this in stages and planning it out. You also need to plan time for your family.