kit cars. An end of an era?

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There classics purchasing (copy)

In Auto Motor Klasssiek we always try to make a mix from 'mainstream' to 'pretty weird'. And the 'pretty weird' angle is now also kitcars with the appropriate age. That kitcar thing was once a tax trick from Not More So Great Britain. Cars that were delivered as kits were subject to a very user-friendly tax rate. And because the industrial revolution had started in the Perfide Albion, the amount of tinkering, fiddling and inventing techies was plentiful there.

It wasn't until the 50s that the idea really took off

Car production had increased significantly and with rust proofing in its infancy many older vehicles were sent for scrap as their bodies were beyond repair. An industry grew up making new bodies and chassis to take the components of these cars and convert them into new vehicles, especially sports cars or sporty looking cars. Glass fiber reinforced polyester (also known as 'GRP') came into widespread use and made the limited scale production of bodywork components sort of economically viable.

Beetles as mega donors

In the 70s, many kits had sporty cut bodies designed to be mounted directly on VW Beetle chassis. This approach was popular because the old body could be easily separated from the chassis, leaving virtually all mechanical components attached to the chassis and a GRP body. This made the Beetle one of the most popular 'donor' vehicles of all time.

Resemble the toppers from back then

But there are also countless building sets for advanced users such as Cobra Replicas and GT40 clones. Not to mention the Lotus 7 derivatives. In connection with (European) legislation, it seems that the kitcar history is coming to an end. But just before the time came, we saw another challenging project in Gelderland: An Onyx Firecat.

Onyx Sportscars Ltd

And that's not Onyx from Windsor Avenue in London. Because there they only sell pimped Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis. David Golightly founded Onyx Automotive in 1990 in Mildenhall, County Suffolk. He started producing cars and kits. The brand name is Onyx. In 1995 the company moved to Grimsby in Lincolnshire and in 1998 the name was changed to Onyx Sports Cars. In total about 265 copies were made.

The Firecat was slightly larger than the Firefly

The undercarriage was a semi-monocoque. The power sources were the Fiat 127, Fiat Uno and Lancia Y. Production at Onyx ran from 1993 to 2000. RPM Sportscars continued production from 2008 to 2009. Pajer Engineering & Media has been producing the vehicles since 2010.

'Our' Onyx is based on Fiat Panda stuff

About 100 were sold during the five-year production run. It is unclear what is happening at Onyx Sportscars. On the site that seems the most official and barely works, we see a serious-looking Bugatti 37 replica. And whether a Dutch license plate can be issued on a Firecat? We would like to get in touch with the owner M/V.


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  1. It is indeed arrogance at its peak. Fransje Timmermans is a fallen civil servant who, together with his vassal and ex green peace terrorist Diederik Samson, tries to push all kinds of nonsensical things down our throats. He learned that from the pate-foi producers, because he himself is a major buyer, which can be read from his stature. The man who drives around Belgium and other countries with almost € 40.000 clean (because EU people don't pay tax) and a diesel car with a driver tells us what we should do and not do. And one of his illustrious predecessors (Joop den Uyl) just shouted that everyone should have a car.

  2. It is high time to organize a goodbye day to say goodbye to those terrible useless unelected climate idiots who are pulling all of Europe into the abyss !! And we become boss in our own country

  3. Well, Timmermans. He is heavily behind the times and is being placated by the "all electric" lobby. And I thought that high-level lobbying was no longer allowed, but apparently that only applies to the tobacco/alcohol industry and "Big Oil". Timmermans just doesn't know (or just doesn't want to know because then his lobby friends won't be so happy) that fuel-powered vehicles don't have to disappear at all to achieve the climate goals. eFuels are in full development, at some point we will no longer need fossil-based fuels. And it can be tough. Ten years ago, electric driving was still very much in its infancy with all its snags, but it's starting to get really serious (whether you agree with it or not). It can also go in that direction with eFuels, as long as the right decisions are made. Of course the Tesla Fanboys will rage against this, because inefficient and "it will never work". But we also said that about electric driving 10 years ago.

  4. Mr. Frans and the EU with their coercive measures ensured that Fiat had to pay almost a billion to Tesla to meet the emission requirements. Fiat could therefore not use that money for innovation of its own products. How silly and ineffective do you want it to be?

  5. It's not a pan, of course, this crumpled cutie. But with a little (a lot of) TLC you might be able to make something out of it. Anyway, I think the model is cute. And that Panda bike isn't that thirsty, so you don't drive yourself poor.

  6. Peter is absolutely right.
    But the hope that the good times will come back after Timmermans someday already seems vain in advance. Timmermans has his mouth full about his Green Deal. Does anyone know who he made his deal with? At least not with me. And as long as a Tesla leaves a larger environmental footprint than a regular fuel car, it seems to be about nothing. Good luck Frans!

  7. I visited onyx a few years ago where they build beautiful bugatti replicas type 37 but they no longer wanted to sell building kits only complete cars

  8. in 2021 you can only think of solar panels, an electric cargo bike, electric car, a heat pump, climate neutral, renewable and fossil-free in a generation..
    All other creative initiatives are in the dark or are out of the question,
    a few more years and we as a population will be made as gray and without initiative as in the old Soviet Union.
    Although I must say that NL is about the only country in Europe where creations such as Burton, Lomax and Donkervoort are still possible for the time being.
    In the 80's I could gaze for hours at the brochures of English, Swiss, US and Dutch kitcars, Custoca, Marcos, Bonito, Nova Sterling, GP Madison, Spartan, Excalibur etc… creativity was almost unlimited then.
    Hopefully these kind of times will come back someday (Maybe When Euro-Timmermans is retired)

    Nova GT Sterling

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