Driving a DIY kit car
Credit: NITZAN RAZ
Kit cars are getting some recognition, and thanks to Ed Konda (plus a huge wad of cash), you can have one too.
With the variety available in the market these days, you’d think that all the bases are covered, but for some, a car built in a mega factory by a large manufacturer is just not appealing enough.
If you are a bit handy with tools, you can look towards buying – and then building – a kit car. The kit car industry might not be common, but it is massive and offers vehicles of all types and sizes. But even if you buy all the necessary bits and pieces for your kit, putting them all together is not an easy job, especially since the finished product has to satisfy the Ministry of Transportation in order for it to get registered.
That is where Ed Konda can come in to help. He is the owner of Ontario Kit Car Consultants, and for a fee, he can help complete your project car or build you one from scratch.
Retired from his day job as an aeronautics engineer, Konda had always loved tinkering with cars, so now he builds kit cars. This hobby has become more than a full-time job, as Konda mentioned that some days he can be found working on cars for 10 hours straight.
His expertise and reputation has certainly helped him stay busy, and kit car companies often call him up for advice and love seeing how he put one of their cars together.
One such company is Factory Five Racing (FFR) from Massachusetts, United States. This company currently makes kits for six different models, ranging from the popular AC Cobra replica to what you’re looking at on this page, the GTM supercar. This mid-engined coupe takes obvious design inspiration from the Ford GT40 racers from the 1960’s but takes the design towards a more modern direction.
While there are roughly 100 kit car assemblers in Canada, Konda is the only one who makes the GTM probably because it is one of the toughest kits to put together. He has built four GTM supercars so far, each eating up roughly 700 hours of his life.
Looking at two finished examples of the FFR GTM at Konda’s location in Severn Bridge, Ontario – it certainly appeared like time well spent. The GTM is a visual delight, carrying all the signature supercar traits of a low and wide body that sits mere inches off the ground.
It has the performance to back those looks also. Being a kit car, you can slot is just about any drivetrain – with some modifications – but the red example I drove had the most ideal powerplant;: a 6.7L V8 crate motor from General Motors, which then got tuned by Katech Racing, so now it produces 550 hp and 540 lb-ft of torque. When you factor in its curb weight of just 1,180 kg (that’s less than what a Nissan cube weighs), you can get some idea that this will be a quick car. While no exact performance numbers are available, it is fair to say it can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in under four seconds and top out at just over 300 km/h – not bad at all for a car built in a shed.
The thing I loved the most was its engine, which thanks to not having any traction or stability control nannies, offered a response that was sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel. Even if you twitched your pinky toe, the car would erupt forward like it was shot from a cannon, and the accompanying sound would have you giggling like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert.
Handling all that power to the rear wheels is a six-speed manual taken from a Porsche 911 GT2, because it is the best gearbox for the job. The shifts do take a little getting used to, but it is a satisfying unit to use nonetheless.
What surprised me most was how well it rode. Even on broken tarmac, there were no nasty shakes or rattles, and the handling is quite neutral and forgiving. The steering was quite direct and offered good weight also. The only thing I would change are the brakes. While it had discs all around, there was no ABS or servo assistance, so you have to be firm with them. When you’re in a car as fast as this, you need the best brakes money can buy.
I would also work on making the interior nicer. While better than most kit cars I have come across, I would prefer a seat with an adjustable backrest, and would do my best to cover any visible wires.
Ergonomics is not its strong point either, as there are no cubbyholes or pockets to put you stuff in, and neither does the car has any trunk.
By now, you are either tempted to get your hands on one or completely put off by it. If you have the case of the former, you can buy the kit yourself in Canada for $22,990. That kit won’t have all the things you need and neither will it have any powertrain.
Konda said that if you do all the work yourself, you’ll have a running car by the time you invest $80,000 into it. If you get him to build it for you, you’ll be in at roughly $110,000 depending on the engine you pick.
Remember, it will take Konda the best part of four months to build you one, however, if you want one now, the car you see here is for sale for just $65,000. If I had that kind of cash lying around, I just might be tempted to bring it home.