Reader Question: Kit Trucks?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

GC asks: What do you think the economics would be if there were a kit pickup truck available? The individual purchasers might be the types most able to complete a build without help and would appreciate a lower cost than the (luxurious) factory trucks, if basic truck kits could actually be sold for significantly less. Many of the potential buyers (young people working in the trades) I envision are laid off at times, have tools, and the knowledge to use them. Keep up the good work!

My reply: I think the economics are very favorable; the problem is – as always – Uncle. It is very difficult to get around the federal saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety and emissions ukase which all new vehicles are required to “comply” with. There are exceptions for low-volume/kit vehicles . . . the operative words being low volume. Once a certain threshold is reached, “compliance” becomes mandatory. The problem, then, is how to make money selling low-volume. I wrote an article a few months back about this. The gist of it is that you charge a fortune for the handful of vehicles you sell; in effect, making such vehicles for-the-affluent-only.

A more practical option for the less-affluent is to buy an older truck (or car) and rehab it according to your preferences. $10k or so should be sufficient to buy a very solid/rust/damage-free body; spend another $15k on mechanicals and so on and – voila – you have a “new” old vehicle; it can have many of the features that make a  car modern without all the crapola that has made modern cars so unappealing.

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  1. Back in the day, when I was researching custom motorcycles, you could build one with frame, engine, tranny, etc., then get a “Special Construction” title from the DMV. Is there something similar for cars? Or is the Bradley GT still titled as a VW bug? If so, then this would be a great workaround using the Mahindra Roxor as the project.

  2. You can buy new replacement body panels for some older vehicles like GM pickups.

    So in effect you have to get your new truck “one piece at a time” and it will cost much more than a dime.


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