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10 Awesome Cars You Can Build in Your Garage for Less Than $20K

Imagine the pride of building you own car, not to mention the admiring glances as you drive around town. Here are 10 great choices – and not a single Fiero!

According to each manufacturer the top kits listed below can be completed for $20,000 or less (in some cases. much less). Most rely on a “donor” car from at least engine and running gear, but those can be crashed wrecks with the components you need left undamaged. Further cars can be built in stages: start with a stock motor and upgrade later as finances allow. Almost all manufacturers will give or sell you an assembly manual so you know what you’re getting into before you write the big check.

To check out these amazing, ingenious, and cost-effective performance cars, just click on the NEXT button below.

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Exomotive Exocet: $6999

The Excocet is a complete, lightweight sports car chassis and body designed to use 1990 – 2005 Mazda Miata running gear to keep costs down. The manufacturer claims that every single tube and laser-cut aluminum panel has been designed using the latest CAD software and extensive Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to eliminate weak points, improve stiffness and optimize weight. Each Exocet includes hand laid composite body panels available in 188 gelcoat colors, which don’t require paint and provide a high gloss finish.

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Speedway  Motors1927 Track-T Roadster  $3,300

Looking for more of a Hot Rod? The 1927 Track-T basic kit includes a  Ford Model T Roadster body with right and left full length side frame covers and  transmission tunnel.  It also comes with , speedway nose, rear roll pan, smooth flat cowl/firewall and front shock mounts.  Headlight mounts, hood top, and aluminum hood sides are also included. The rigid tube steel chassis features front & rear kick-ups for a lower ride height and includes pre-mounted suspension bracketry. The chassis is built to accommodate a traditional spring-over, tube axle front suspension with  radius rods,and a solid rear axle with quarter elliptic springs. Suggested engine is the 2300cc Ford four-cylinder engine.

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Factory Five 818S $9,990

At a minuscule finished weight of  1,800 lbs., the  Factory Five 818S has a performance envelope like a Lotus at a fraction of the cost. Based on Subaru Impreza/WRX running gear, the 818 is an ultra-light, ultra-modern, computer-designed, two-seat, mid-engine sports car. Engineered to be home built, the 818 is all about doing more for less. The 818 is also about choices. With the same base chassis, you can build an affordable roadster street car (818S), an all-weather daily driver capable coupe (818C), or a full-on competition track day model (818R).

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Vortx RT $12,207

This kit, based on the Lotus 7, while at first appears to be more expensive, is actually pretty comprehensive. . Further the car is built around the use of  ’90 – ’97 Mazda Miata donor parts from a single car.  Sourced from the Miata are engine, transmission, front spindles, hubs and brakes, rear hubs and brakes axles and differential. The Vortx RT has pushrod front inboard suspension with ProTech adjustable shocks and IRS double wishbone design with quick camber adjustment, also wth ProTech shocks.

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Exomotive Eco-Exo $4,199

The Eco-Exo is a stylish exoskeletal tandem seat reverse trike that is as economical as it is fun to drive. Designed with a small frontal area for high efficiency and low center of gravity for excellent roadholding. The reverse trike kit uses a Suzuki Burgman 400 scooter as the donor to provide the vast majority of parts needed in the build. With over 32 hp on tap from the 385cc engine, a V-belt drive variable transmission and a fuel economy of over 60mpg, the Eco-Exo is both fun and  easy to drive.

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Bauer Catfish $13,900

Bauer says its Catfish chassis is jig-welded of seamless DOM tubing and designed to fit directly onto 1990-2005 Miata sub-frames.  The main body is MIG welded, while the exposed roll hoops are TIG welded.  No customer welding or bending is required.  The front clip acts as a replaceable front frame support.  The manufacturer claims that brakes, suspension, fuel and wiring are simple to install.  Mounts for four, five or six point harnesses are included. Bodywork is of  composite construction using woven S-glass, with carbon reinforcements where needed.  Standard 10.9 grade installation hardware is included.  The bodywork is finished in a gel coat that’s ready for light sanding in preparation for paint.

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DF Goblin $5750

Breaking out of the Miata-based kits is the DF Goblin. The Goblin is a high performance mid-engine car you build yourself using one of this tube chassis kit and the running gear and accessories from a 2005 – 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt. To make the Goblin very easy to assemble and to increase the feature set of the final product the company has designed the kit to re-use as much from the donor as possible. This includes components like the subframe, suspension, brake components, pedal box, gauge panel, BCM and much more.  The manufacturer says an average set of home garage tools and basic wrenching skills can get anyone from the tube chassis to a mid-engine car in less than 100 hours.

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Exomotive DBR1 $12,999

If you’re looking for more classic styling, perhaps you should consider the Exomotive DBR-1, modeled after the Aston Martin DBR1 that Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori drove to victory at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. The fiberglass body has been faithfully duplicated from drawings, pictures and measurements of the original. Underneath, the DBR1 replica has a lightweight triangulated space frame chassis and is built to the highest standards. The company’s engineers have designed a chassis that is lighter, yet stiffer than the original, giving the Replicar DBR1 a weight just over 1700 pounds.

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Meyers Kick Out Manx SS $5700

You didn’t think we’d create a list of home-assembled cars and not include at least one based on a Type 1 VW floorpan, did you? The Meyers Manx is a classic among dune buggies, one that really established the category in the 1960s. the designed has been upgraded and called the Kick-Out SS (a surfing term for you mouth breathers + SS for Strictly Street). Basically all buddy, no dune. The Kick-Out S.S. Manx is fitted to a chassis shortened by 14.5″. Features include an opening hood with inset headlights allowing easy access to wiring, fuel and added storage, dual-hoop roll bar, 2” wider rear fenders for those larger tires you always wanted to use, optional vented sidepods for oil coolers, radiators or just good looks, and optional rear deck lid with dual headrests.

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Jeep MB Reproduction $7,200

We looked everywhere hoping to find this all together as a kit but no luck. As a result it’s a project that’s not for the fainthearted. Literally every component that comprises the original WWII Willys MB Jeep is available either as a reproduction, new-old-stock (NOS), or manufactured. A company called Throttle Down sells a reproduction frame for $2K and another company called Omix-ADA will sell you the steel body for $5200. That leaves quite a bit of room is finish off the already sparse Jeep in our under $20K budget. You can go for the classic flathead four and AWD system or upgrade to a more modern drivetrain. Definitely not a project for first timers, though.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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