Plenty of motorists in the UK enjoy building and driving kit cars, and there are plenty of motor trade companies and private individuals producing these kits and the components. If you don’t fancy assembling a vehicle yourself, you can stick to the dealerships where you will find plenty of new and used cars for sale.
Before you take a kit car on the road it’s wise to make sure you’re on the right side of the law. You’re likely to need a specialist insurance policy to cover your pride and joy. In addition, some kit cars may need a special registration number rather than a standard number or trade plate. This is because the DVLA distinguishes between three kinds of custom built vehicles, and you will need to understand the difference between a kit-built vehicle, a kit converted vehicle, and what is known as a radically altered vehicle.
For a vehicle to qualify as kit built, it must be made completely from new parts supplied by a single manufacturer. In a kit conversion, kit parts are added to an existing vehicle so that it looks significantly different from its original appearance. Often, this means putting a new body on a car’s chassis with no other changes.
A radically altered vehicle will have been changed in appearance without using kit parts, a new paint scheme might be enough to qualify a vehicle as radically altered. Kit conversions and radically altered vehicles may be able to keep their original registration, and these decisions are based on how many original parts (and which ones) are used.
There are special rules for vehicles which have been issued with a ‘Certificate of Destruction’, these are provided by authorised treatment facilities when a car is scrapped. If you are reusing components of a scrapped vehicle, you cannot drive it under the original registration number.
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A kit-built vehicle is brand new, so it will need to be registered as a new vehicle. To receive a standard registration number for the current year, the DVLA requires you to prove the car was built entirely from new parts, bought from a manufacturer. There’s a tiny amount of wiggle room if you have used one reconditioned part, and it isn’t the chassis, the frame, or a monocoque bodyshell. If your vehicle doesn’t meet the conditions for a new registration, you may find yourself with a Q plate. This is a registration number starting with Q used when the age, or original identity of a vehicle is in question. You can only get a Q registration plate and still drive your kit-built car on the public road, if it meets all the standards set in the ‘Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations’. This covers everything needed to keep you and other road users safe, including the steering, brakes, and seat belts, as well as the noise, vision and emissions.
To pass, you’ll need to have the vehicle inspected under the Individual Vehicle Approval scheme. The process might seem complicated, but it’s worth making sure you get it right, then you can get on with the important business of driving your new pride and joy!