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Death of an Aztec 7?6 Comment

Aztec 7, FiberFab | Sat, 06 May 2006 Posted by :

So I received this email and I thought it would give an answer everywhere, because odd damage can make a kitcar purchase dramatically more expensive than ever expected.

Your site is one of the very few I've been able to find dealing with the Aztec 7 Kit Car... so I'm hoping you can help me out. I just purchased a 1979 Aztec 7 that has been sitting since 1982. It is currently under a fading red oxide primer, has no engine, most of the electrical system has been removed, and it needs a fair amount of work.The engine is no problem - any VW 1600cc will work great in it. The electrical is no issue, either, as I can do that myself with no problems. The body work that the car needs is fairly minimal, mostly due to the fiberglass construction.

What is a problem is the windshield. At some point during it's 24 years of sitting, someone vandalized the car, breaking the driver's glass, rear glass, and the front windshield. I have a good passenger glass, so I can have a glass company make a replacement for the driver's side by using the passenger side as a template. The back glass is simple flat glass, and should be easy enough to reproduce. The front, however, is a different story.

I know that many of the kit cars use existing car windshields in them, but because I can't find any real information on the car on the internet, I'm having problems trying to locate what kind of windshield it uses. Since your website features several Aztec 7s on it, I was hoping that you would have that information. Anything you can help me with at this point would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time!

First of all, let me show you a picture of my Aztec 7 when I was basically done building it. It was a dark pearl green, had a beautiful custom interior, a custom luggage case (it was a daily driver), and had been modified extensively to look more like it’s inspiration, the Carabo (including Bertone logos).

aztec-7-kit-car.jpg

Unfortunately, some of the work had not been done well enough. While at first glance, it appeared to be one of the nicest Aztec 7s of all time, not long long after getting it back, the door hinges broke, the interior turned out to be poorly put together, and for some reason I had some stupid idea that required taking out the windshield. I took it upon myself take to it out myself. I cracked it, and then made the problem worse by trying to solve it on my own without the right tools. I had the window professionally removed (easy and cheap), but the damage was done and the windshield would have to be replaced.

Problem is, the windshield is from a farking Lamborghini Muira!!! Sure, when FiberFab was in business (they sold between 400 and 2,000, depending on who you believe), you could buy their clone for almost nothing… but to the best of my knowledge it is not available as a copy any more, so you have to buy it direct from Lamborghini parts suppliers — the price at the time was something like $4500 and only a few were available in the world. So here’s what I was left with:

broken-aztec-7-4.jpg broken-aztec-7-3.jpg broken-aztec-7-2.jpg broken-aztec-7-1.jpg

I mean, still a fundamentally good looking car, but damaged to the point where fixing it was more expensive that buying a new one! And to be honest, at that point I was sick of it. I put it on eBay and got a fraction of what I’d invested — a tiny, tiny fraction! That said, what I proposed the new owner do to avoid the windshield problem was pretty cool:

aztec-7-split-window.jpg

Sort of a split between the Carabo and the Aerovette and Astrovette series? Sadly, I don’t think the buyer went through with it… It’s too bad though, I think it would have been cool, and would have been a really unique and stunning vehicle.

The world’s first mini-van1 Comment

Laser 49er | Fri, 05 May 2006 Posted by :

….and yes, it was a kit car. Sometimes kits copy, but just as often they are the innovators. I was asked to provide a little more information on the exceedingly rare Laser 49er. Now, please keep in mind that this car predates the big car companies mini-vans by quite some time as you read this (this is part of the original brochure for the vehicle) by Elite Enterprises.

laser-49er-mini-van.jpg

Elite works with design and engineering experts, in many phases of product planning, development, and final production. The illustrations in this brochure of the Laser 49er, as well as those of other Elite models on our stationary and envelopes, are the work of Harry Bradley, the noted California artist and automotive design instructor.

THE DIFFERENCE
What makes the Laser 49er so different from other vans, automobiles, or kit cars? It isn’t just a question of size. The Laser 49er was designed to accommodate the multi-purpose requirements of today’s driver. Most automobiles offer one advantage, to the detriment of others: spaciousness versus economy, efficiency versus luxury, practicality versus styling. But the Laser 49er is the vehicle that aims at versatility. It allows you more diverse users, more overall advantages — with fewer comprimizes. The Laser 49er gives you a little more of everything, and that makes a big difference in your driving.

LUXURY INTERIOR
When you’re in the driver’s seat of a Laser 49er — surrounded by deep-padded adjustable seats, arm rests, padded dash, and full instrumentation — you’ll think you’re inside a luxury car. You are.

SPACIOUSNESS
The Laser 49er only looks little from the outside. Inside, there’s room for comforable seating (five full-sized adults!), and for plenty of storage as well.

MANEUVERABILITY
The Laser 49er’s smaller size and efficient design provide better cornering, less wind resistance, and easier handling than any conventional van. Gets you into tight spaces, without putting you inside of one.

STYLING
The exceptional design of the Laser 49er features gull-wing doors, rear hatch back, and strong clean lines that combine practicality with great looks. All excecuted in tough reinforced fiberglass — so it will keep looking great without rust or corrosion. The Laser 49er is pre-gelcoated, ready to paint your favorite color. We don’t think all vans should look alike — especially this one.

image3.jpg image2.jpg

SPECIFICATIONS
Overall Length . . . . 173.5"
Width. . . . . . . . . .72.0" (100" with both doors open)
Height . . . . . . . . .57.0" (80" with doors open)
(4'9" — 49er)
Wheelbase. . . . . . . .94.5"
Front Track. . . . . . .58.0"
Rear Track . . . . . . .57.0"
Road Clearance . . . . . 9.0"
Curb Weight . . . . . .2,200 lbs

ENGINE
All VW engines. Also Porsche, Corvair, Mazda and many others. (Adaptors required for all except VW.)

CHASSIS
Any stock VW 2-door sedan. 1966 through present VW, no alterations required. Super Beetle adaptor available from Elite.

SEATING CAPACITY
5 adults.

LUGGAGE SPACE
12 cu. ft. inside rear hatch.

ASSEMBLY
With our complete assembly manual and your know-how, you’ll have the Laser 49er road-ready in about 120 hours. Only home tools are required, and the body comes complete with the doors pre-hung and glass installed at our factory. Most Laser 49er owners have almost as much fun building as they do driving.

THE DIMENSIONS
You can see by the size of the Laser 49er, and by the specifications listed at the left, that the physical dimensions of the mini van are quite different from those of a conventional van. What figures can’t describe, are the new “dimensions” of driving that are open to you as a Laser 49er owner. Because every person who drives one, has a different idea of what the Laser 49er is: The perfect commuter car… A convenient automobile for picking up the kids, shopping, running errands, and all the other faily driving around town… A great vehicle for family trips… A weekend camper… A business van… The list is as diverse as your driving needs.

GAS MILEAGE
If you thought the VW Beetle was a miser with fuel, wait till you exchange the old body for the Laser 49er! The aerodynamic design will improve your original engine’s exonomy noticeably. And fuel efficienct is a number-one consideration today.

THE KIT
It’s all there: Everything you need to transform from an old VW into a shining new Laser 49er! Seats, lighting, glass, hardware, gauges, even nuts and bolts. We make it easy! All you need to add is your choice of upholstery and carpet.

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Ferrer GT kitcar: trendstarter?33 Comment

Ferrer GT | Thu, 04 May 2006 Posted by :

Since I’ve been talking about the Astra and the early Aztec models, I thought I’d toss up a bit more classic kitcar history, starting with what I think may be the first car of this general style.

You could argue that alongside cars like the Devin, the Ferrer GT is the car that started the American [kit] sportscar trend that dominated the late sixties through the mid-eighties with cars like Fiberfab’s Avenger. Frank Ferrer, at the time an aircraft parts salesman, bought a VW-based kit to build with his sons, but the longer he got along in the project, the more he realized it had serious design flaws — and I believe the literal quote that followed was “I know we can build a better one”.

So Terry and his kids (22-year old son Gary was put in charge of the body design itself) went out and bought a big collection of his favorite cars — the GT40, the Porsche 904, the new ‘Vette prototypes, and so on… He picked what he saw as the best features, and with the help of Dick Buckheit, they had a finished car within eight months and showed the car in Miami. The public went wild for it!

The car was well designed, with good visibility, comfort, entrance and exit, and so on, and about three hundred were produced between 1966 and 1967 — and were it not for this car, one has to wonder whether the kit car trend would have gotten quite as big the way it did.

ferrer-gt-1966.jpg
Tyson Ferrer (Terry’s other son) with the car at a show

Here’s some more pictures of my friend Karl’s unfinished Ferrer GT that he sold in the late-nineties after other commitments forced the sale (I think he let it go for just $1,000). He actually thought it was an Avenger when he first bought it — because the Avenger ultimately became one of the best selling kits of all time, I think this is actually quite a common misconception.

karl-ferrer-gt-1.jpg karl-ferrer-gt-2.jpg

Karl was, by his reckoning, the seventh or eighth owner of this car (his brother being the previous one, and before that it hopped around Wisconsin for a while). Even though it was over thirty years old and in rough shape by the time Karl got it, he described the fiberglass thickness and quality as better than we see on most modern kits.

Anyone else got one? There must still be a few on the road! Send in your story and pictures please.

World’s Ugliest Car?12 Comment

eBay, For Sale, One-offs | Thu, 04 May 2006 Posted by :

See, this is why people who can’t draw or sculpt shouldn’t make cars. I hate to slag something that someone has obviously put a ton of effort into, but all I can think when I see this is “world’s ugliest 80s Camaro — someone call Guiness!”. If you disagree with me, it’s on eBay as item #4636844659… so far, zero bids with five days to go. It’s basically a sloppy set of flat fiberglass panels put over a 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS chassis. Personally I think they’re insane with a starting bid of $2500.

ugly3.jpg ugly2.jpg ugly1.jpg

Jeez, I feel so guilty now having written all that.

 

Kellison Astra GT on eBay, $600!9 Comment

Astra GT, eBay, For Sale | Thu, 04 May 2006 Posted by :

It’s already met the reserve, and honestly, I’ll be shocked if it goes much higher. It looks pretty complete though, and if you read the info below (click the “Astra GT” link above), you’ll see that if you buy this kit assuming nothing is broken you might be able to get it running over just one weekend. It’s a very simple car to put together.

kellison-astra-5.jpg kellison-astra-4.jpg kellison-astra-3.jpg kellison-astra-2.jpg kellison-astra-1.jpg

Those are the shots from the eBay auction, and it’s Ite, #4636128020. Only two days of bidding left! Like I said, I don’t think the owner knows what a rare piece of US specialty car history he has here, so this thing’s a steal if you understand the basics of, say, using a wrench. No special tools are needed to finish this car!

’55 Porsche 356 Speedster Kit0 Comment

Porsche 356 | Wed, 03 May 2006 Posted by :

Gary in Seattle sends in these photos of his 356 Speedster finished in 1988 after 18 months of construction — everything was taken apart, fixed up, and put back together. Among many other mods, it’s got a 2110cc engine with nitrous… VDO gauges, disc brakes, and on and on and on until about $25,000 was invested, resulting in a long series of show trophies. It’s also a daily driver, not that Seattle lets you have a daily driver with no real roof, ha…

rightf.jpg rearwd.jpg frontl2.jpg frontl1.jpg frontc.jpg

Above are some pictures as the car looks now, and below are some pictures of the construction.

frontp.jpg intheb.jpg primer.jpg rearwe.jpg standi.jpg

“Suny” Kit Car?1 Comment

Mystery Cars | Wed, 03 May 2006 Posted by :

I’m told this was built for a James Bond film in 1978, around (oddly) a VW Thing chassis… Anyone know any more?

suny.jpg

 

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To.7 Comment

Articles | Wed, 03 May 2006 Posted by :

Untitled-11.jpgWhy is it that the North American kitcar market is dominated by Cobras, Ferarris, and Lamborghinis? Sure, they’re pretty cars, but are they really what kitcars should be?

If you read a kitcar magazine from the early 80’s or older, you’ll still see plenty of replicas, but the market wasn’t dominated by any specific design, and there were also plenty of original creations. Yes, it meant that there were a lot of ugly cars, but there were also plenty of exotics that held their own when put up against any design house from Italy.

A production car, even an exotic is deisng to meet market needs — the company needs to turn around a lot of dollars to break even. A kit on the other hand was usually built around the whims of the indivual designer. They built it for themselves at a minimal cost and made it available to others as a hobby. With a small number of exceptions, kitcars has never been a high-profit industry.

The question is: do you want to own a car that will always be a low-budget copy of a real supercar, that snooty people will always laugh at you for owning? Wouldn’t you rather own an original design, a rare supercar design that you know is far more unique, and far more exotic than any Countach will ever be?  I for one vote for the originals. Kitcars let designers express themselves with cars that would never make it to market in any other way. They allow the public to buy a custom built one-of-a-kind supercar at a reasonable price. Can a Cobra do this?

Most replicas are highly inaccurate when put next to the real thing. Do you really want to be in a situation where you sink $30,000 to finish your car and then get made fun of by every kid that knows what the real thing is? Wouldn’t you rather have a car that no one else in your state has ever even seen?

Judging by the feedback that this webpage gets, there is a market for original designs, but unfortunately the few companies selling them are selling 20 year old designs. Why are there no new ones?

(Originally posted in 1998)

Siva Saluki vs Charger?10 Comment

Mystery Cars, Siva Saluki | Wed, 03 May 2006 Posted by :

My friend Joe Lee sends a few pictures of what he says is a “Siva Saluki” (more information here at this Siva history site), but to me (and to him) it also looks an aweful lot like the UK based Charger kit (slightly more common). I don’t know which is a copy of which. He thinks it’s inspired by the Lancia Stratos (the wild looking prototype, not the production vehcile), whereas I am starting to far less stand by my original theory that it’s inspired by the Aston Martin Bulldog (click the “Mystery Cars” link above to see that Charger). Anyone know anything more or know the source of the pictures? Please email me or post what you know as a comment!

lancia -stratos.jpg siva.jpg siva02.jpg siva03.jpg siva04.jpg

The leftmost picture is the Lancia Stratos concept. Thanks again to Joe! Here’s what I’ve been able to find out so far:

The car originally came out in 1973 and sold for 395 pounds (just under $6000 in 2006 US dollars). It is of course VW based, only twelve were made, and only one is believed to exist (but I think that may be incorrect).

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