Eric Bonnette from Orlando is looking for someone who wants to buy the Bugatti copy, for much cheaper than you can get a real one.
Randy Morrow, a retired Tennessee police officer, sells what appears to be a slim 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago for a "reasonable" price: $ 40,000.
It is A great deal for a car that usually costs over $ 200,000 and has all the exotic details you would expect from a luxury car manufacturer. It's aggressive in appearance, with sharp angles and dramatic scissors. The coupe sits low and wide and it has a candy-colored paint job.
Just the car is not a real "Lambo."
This is what is referred to as a "replica" or "kit car" among a niche community of car enthusiasts who combine parts from various sources to construct imitations of head-turning sports cars and luxury cars. Building these faux cars is also legal, as long as you do not give them as the real thing or sell them in large numbers.
Morrow chose to list the carbon copy on LamborghiniReplicas.com, one of many websites where unique copies and luxury car parts await eager buyers who want the prestige of owning an exclusive tour without peddling hundreds of thousands of dollars. The replicas sell for as low as $ 20,000 and run up to six figures.
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These DIY vehicles are nothing new. In the early 1960s, companies such as Fiberfab and other small-scale operations would make Ford GT40 copies using a Volkswagen Beetles chassis and sell the cars under a different name. In the 70s, motorists could buy components to convert older models into unique classics. Today many copies are made using old Pontiac Fieros as a base.
Are kit cars harmful?
But as the kit cars grow up on the resale sites of the site, it appears that the cottage industry for builders is drawing more attention from the public, selective pushback from car manufacturers whose cars they imitate and criticism from car purists who just don't look to make it all about fun.
"Some people feel that kit cars devalue the original cars," and social media may be a magnet for them, according to Robert Ross, a car consultant for Robb Report magazine. " However, I do not see too many legitimate owners of the real cars who are bad or berating people. that makes the copies. There are people whose comments are only generated to arouse hostility. "
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A Colorado physicist and his son made waves when they spent $ 20,000 on materials and used a set of 3D printers to build a fully functional Lambo Aventador copy in October.  Sterling Brackus and his son build a Lamborghini Aventador lookalike using a 3D printer. ” width=”540″ data-mycapture-src=”” data-mycapture-sm-src=””/>
Sterling Brackus and his son build a Lamborghini Aventador lookalike using a 3D printer. (Photo: Sterling Brackus)
The father, Sterling Backus, told USA TODAY that since it went viral, "there have been trolls on social media that gave flippant comments and said things like, "This is stupid. What a waste of money."
He doesn't intend to sell the car once it's done, but people have asked, Backus said.
These car hobbyists say that realistic knock-offs have become more valuable in recent years as luxury car companies hunt for copy factories and retrieve body products from car shops.
Eric Bonnette, an entrepreneur who buys, builds and flips kit cars, posted a Craigslist ad in September that advertised a Bugatti Veyron's "replica" in 2012. Built on a 2002 Mercury Cougar V6 chassis. The listing included close-ups of the copycat car, a few details and a $ 125,000 price tag, along with the owner's contact info.
Right after building the car, Bonnette received dozens of text messages and emails from strangers saying "such abominable things as & # 39; man, you're a loser. You're an idiot," Bonnet said. He also received emails from angry purists saying, "Bugatti should sue you!"
Are replica cars legal?
Mark McKenna, a Chicago-based patent attorney, said that people who create personal clones of dream cars are less likely to meet trademark lawsuits than people who sell replicas in large numbers.
However, older car companies may still claim that the design, or part of the design, is "substantially similar" to a design that is patented, although these types of cases are rare and difficult to prove.
Eric Bonnette is looking for a buyer for hey Bugatti Veyron in 2012 selling for $ 125,000. Only it's not really a luxury sports car, it's a 2002 Mercury Cruiser disguised as one. (Photo: Preston C. Mack, for the United States TODAY)
"Doing it just for yourself on a one-time basis is probably not going to be discovered and pursued," McKenna said. "The risk level is low because making one of them and not selling it probably isn't very expensive for designers."
Imitation cars become more disturbing when the creators or sellers try to portray counterfeits as the real thing, or when they run larger scale factories that offer exotic car specimens that cost little more than a Ford Focus.
During the summer, police in Brazil closed a factory that produced fake Ferraris and what has been called "Shamborghinis." The copies were sold for about $ 45,000 to $ 60,000 each. The company's Instagram page remains active.
An abundance of fake supercars with copy-brands like those made in Brazil are much more threatening to automakers than artistic enthusiasts who use kits and cobblestone parts to build a look, experts say.
Nevertheless, legal copies are often cut off by the automobile community at large. For example, there are reports that replicas were relegated to the sidelines of this year's Pebble Beach Concours d & # 39; Elegance, a prestigious car show that happens every year in California.
Can scams happen?
Although most backyard builders tend to have the best intentions, scams and deceptions "certainly have happened," according to Dave Kinney, a senior appraiser at USAppraisal, who considers the value of collectibles.
"I call it the third-owner syndrome," Kinney said. He said that the first buyer of a copy typically knows that the car is not authentic. "The first owner buys the car and knows quite legitimately what he's getting at. The second owner may know the same. But it might be a motivation for him to post a Craigslist ad that says he has a Bugatti Veyron in 2011 and he selling it for half a million dollars. "
Bugatti Veyron prices start at about $ 1.5 million.
A Bugatti spokesman said that the luxury car maker appreciates the enthusiasm of people who "want at any length to own or build a Bugatti copy, as it demonstrates the strength and attraction of the brand."
Lamborghini said in a statement that it does not "intend to pursue criminal proceedings against individuals", but warns that knock-offs do not offer the same safety features as regulated cars.
As far back as 2000 sports car manufacturers have gone to the shops to sell more imitations of iconic cars without permission, while one-off tasks created by hobbyists were seen as flattering.
In 2000, Ferrari launched a lawsuit against an Oregon company to build replica sports cars, and in 2013 Lamborghini sued an Alabama-based company to create Lambo mock-ups.
History of car kits
Kit cars have been around for decades. But copying modern sports cars can be a lingering phenomenon from the 80s and 90s, according to Ross.
"As cars really became more popular icons of status, and with brands like Mercedes Benz and Porsche producing more expensive and flamboyant cars, we soon saw the fabrication of fiberglass parts to emulate these," Ross said.
Replica was popularized because "all it needed was minimal materials costs and a significant amount of labor," Ross said.
Now the hobbyist subculture celebrates their masterpieces by joining them at trade shows or making their creations visible in the community's Facebook groups. They often use sites like Craigslist or platforms like Facebook Marketplace to buy, sell and trade parts.
How are replicas made?
There are several ways to take an old, cheap car and make it look something powerful and fast. But it takes a lot of time and actual talent.
One of the most popular ways to clone a car is to build it using the chassis of a street-legal vehicle and a fiberglass shell inspired by high-end cars. The shell lifts the humdrum ride into a Lambo, Mustang or Camaro look alike.
Pontiac Fierro and Porsche Boxer are some of the most popular base models because axle distances and engine positions are easier to build on, said Bonnette, who said he has turned several copy over the internet.
Other methods of building copycat cars include modeling the exterior body using dimensions and photographs, or rubbing patterns using 3D scanners, according to Kinney, the senior appraiser at USA Appraisal.
"So instead of getting the Lamborghini taillights, you add some Hyundai taillights that look like it," Kinney said. "And you buy some headlights from a Ford or something along those lines and just put it together."  Bonnette's Craigslist listing expired without a buyer in sight. But he still hopes to sell the Bugatti Veyron replica, which he put thousands of dollars of work into.
Morrow said he will only sell his Lambo copy if he finds the right buyer, even though he has received some tempting offers on swapping a copy for another.
"I posted it online to see what's out there," Morrow said. "But I've looked at the latest Corvette, so I might end up selling it to buy it."
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown.
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