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Homepage. This page: A-Z of Kit Cars.

A-Z of Kit Cars.

Haynes.

Steve Hole.
ISBN 978 1 84425 677 8
Published 2012. (Hardback, 296 pages).
Review date April 2012.
Book about kit cars since 1949

UK RRP 30.

Buy this Book:
My first encounter with a kit car was, I'm sure, with a Cox GTM that my uncle built up in the 1970s (HTU 880K). Finished in a yellow(ish) colour, with a rear-mounted 1275cc A-Series engine, it went very well, and was for a time bolted to an automatic gearbox. The car is long-gone, having come off second best to a Vauxhall Carlton in the 1980s, but my interest in older home-made cars, preferably specials of the 1950s and before, continues.
Kit car enthusiasts will probably know of the author, Steve Hole, through his involvement with kit car magazines and websites, so he was well placed to take on the not-insignificant task of producing this encyclopaedia of post-1949 kit cars. Over 1500 vehicles are referenced within this sizeable book's near-300 pages, many of which are accompanied by a colour or black and white photograph. A brief history is given in most cases, along with an estimation of how many vehicles, or bodyshells, were produced.
The aforementioned GTM coupe receives its moment of glory on page 114. The early cars were produced in Hazel Grove, near Stockport, which is where HTU 880K was purchased in the early 1970s. It seems only 55 kits were produced under Cox ownership before the enterprise folded. Fortunately the remains of the company were acquired by a driver for the firm, and production of the kit re-commended before this venture too went under. A further change of ownership saw the car re-worked once again before going back on sale, with new models joining the catalogue.
In most cases there is only space for a brief write-up of each car, but each serves as a useful overview of a given vehicle, on which the reader could build via the internet and specialist magazines.
My interest is in the specials built after the war and throughout the 1950s. Some were built up from scratch by gifted amateurs, while other owners bought off-the-shelf components, or scoured scrapyards for suitable parts, before bolting them together to build the object of their desires. While the majority of this encyclopaedia is filled with kit cars of more recent times, there are enough "specials", usually based on Austin 7 or Ford 10 parts, to keep us specials fans content. My old Ashley 1172 gets a nod on page 28, while Nickri - the builders of the shell fitted to a Triumph-powered special I had a few years ago - stars on page 184.
This impressive book features some very tasty-looking machinery. It also serves as a reminder of just how subjective the whole kit-car building hobby is, and always has been. For every lover of a particular car, there will be people who think it looks appalling - love is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. Quite who exactly thought that the Reeves Matrix for instance, a dubious-looking three-wheeler that resembled a slice of cheese, was a good-looking machine is anyone's guess, and the same - in my opinion - applies to other kits such as the Parabug and the Morford Flyer, but, as with all cars, some will love them, others will not. The sheer diversity of cars featured here makes for a very enjoyable evening's perusal.
While some of the kits should have been shot at birth, others - including some of the accurate homages to mainstream vehicles like AC's Cobra or the Jaguar D-Type - are truly great cars to look at, properly built, and engineered to exacting standards. In addition to sports cars and replicas, there are also buggies, amphibious vehicles and micro-cars such as the Peels and the curious-looking TICI to be found within the encyclopaedia, so something for everyone with an interest in less mainstream modern and classic cars.
RJ
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