Build Your Own Le Mans Prototype-Style Race Car With This $24K Starter Kit
It’s an 80-percent-accurate replica of the Bentley Speed 8, but you’ll need to source a powertrain for it.
We often speak of cars like the GM F-body or the Chevrolet Corvette as being the ultimate performance bargains. They're up there, sure, but if you're down to get your digits dirty, you can do a lot better. If you're willing to weld, you can build yourself an absurdly accurate replica of the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Bentley Speed 8, one with a full tubular chassis, a V8 engine, and any transmission you please.
These kits are offered by Bulgarian firm Aeromaster, which claims to have spent five years developing a chassis to fit under an 80-percent accurate replica of the Bentley's body (slightly altered to simplify maintenance). Constructed of fiberglass, this body is about four inches shorter and three wider than that of a 2021 Ford Mustang, but more than a foot lower—roughly one inch lower than a Ford GT40, in fact. It's formed around a full-size, CNC-machined body buck, which results in unusually high quality and symmetry for a kit car body.
These cars' frames are constructed of steel tubing and have been designed as crash-safe roll cages. Combined with the body, both are said to weigh just 1,874 pounds, though that doesn't include the brakes, steering, suspension, or drivetrain, all of which are the buyer's responsibility to source. Only V8s or smaller engines can fit, and due to frame limitations, only motors with a maximum of 600 horsepower. Aeromaster's demo car features a 340-horsepower, 4.2-liter Audi unit, though the company states an LS would work well too.
Aeromaster LMPs are available at two tiers, Basic and Pro, the former of which starts around $23,600. It includes all the preformed tubing necessary to build the chassis, the suspension wishbones, laser-cut aluminum underbody, body panels, and windows, consisting of an acrylic windshield and Lexan side windows. The windshield can be optionally upgraded to road-legal safety glass, while the body can be ordered with a rear fender air intake, side fuel inlet, and adjustable rear wing with a light, and the interior with a bucket seat and aluminum panels.
The Aeromaster LMP Basic seats just one, and if that's a deal-breaker, you'll have to vault up to the Pro package, which starts at a loftier $35,100 but can fit two occupants in either left- or right-hand drive configuration. Its frame is enhanced to withstand 900 horsepower and features removable subframes for ease of service. Its interior can be outfitted with a pedal box and composite panels, and its chassis with a custom steering rack, aluminum wheels with tires, and six-piston calipers with 355-mm drilled rotors.
Both options can be ordered either as fully DIY kits or largely prebuilt by Aeromaster, which says it'll build customers' cars to any spec short of turnkey. In other words, some assembly required, though how much is up to you, your wallet, and how badly you want real Bentley LMP parts.
Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: firstname.lastname@example.org