Kimini: How to design and build a mid-engine sports car - from scratch

The black-and-white version is available here or on Amazon

The all-color version is available here or on Amazon

Kimini Home

Kimini...teaches how to design and build your own sports car - not a kit! It is based upon the car on the cover, a tube-frame, carbon shell, mid-engine Mini. With this design guide and your choice of FWD drivetrains, you will create your own dream car. I chose a Mini, but with what you learn here, you can create whatever you wish! (This is a design guide for creating your own unique mid-engine sports car; it does not contain plans for duplicating my car.)

355 pages, 292 photographs, 30 figures.

Rear cover

Ever wonder what it's like to build a car from scratch? Curious what it takes? Can it be built in an ordinary two-car garage? Yes! Can someone who's never built a car before build one? Yes!

Follow one man's odyssey of creating a from-the-ground-up, home-built, tube-frame, carbon-shell, mid-engine Mini - not a kit! Watch as goals are composed, plans take shape, the design is developed, and the car is built. See it become a running, street-legal sports car, with performance equal to an authentic 427 Cobra!

See the entire design process: initial design goals, research, design, and development. Follow construction from the wood mock-up to suspension design, to chassis fabrication, and to composite work.

Come along as Kimini goes through her first test drive, autocrosses, trackday events, and car shows.

Learn how you can build your own unique sports car - from scratch!

Table of Contents (Links to a Word document)


“Building a car is the ultimate lesson in compromise.”

“Everything is connected to everything else.”

“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

My dream has always been to build a sports car and drive it to Laguna Seca Raceway, near San Francisco , racing during the day and camping at the track at night, just like the old days. I've always admired the passion of early aviators, who flew from town to town, landing in fields in the evening and sleeping under the wings of their planes, and of the amateur racers in Europe , who drove their cars to events, raced, and drove home. Those days are gone, but with enough work, that passion and adventure can be brought back.

What this book is

Because you have access to different parts than I do, this is not a cookbook, a hold-your-hand, step-by-step process for building an exact copy of my Mini—it's something far more useful.

This book walks you through the process of designing a car based upon the parts you have, rather than forcing you into using parts you don't have, don't want, or can't afford. This is a cookbook only in the sense that it lays out a map of how to create your own recipe.

This book covers the research, design, and construction of a scratch-built, street and track, one-off custom sports car, a mid-engine, tube-frame, composite-shell Mini. Starting with a simple wish list and progressing through goal definition, chassis and suspension design, and construction, the entire ordeal is covered, concluding with driving observations. In addition, the thinking behind the decisions—why something was done a certain way—is described. It shows the steps, mental and physical, necessary to create a car from scratch and the philosophies of doing so—and actually finishing it! Also covered is what I would do differently next time—something missing from many books !

This book was written to show that, yes, you too can build a car. It reminds me of the scene in The Empire Strikes Back , where Luke says to Yoda, “I don't believe it,” and Yoda replies, “That is why you failed.” If you don't think you can build a car, then you have already failed, but if after reading this book you feel that you can—you can indeed.

What this book is not

This book does not spend pages showing hand tools, explaining how to solder or weld, or how to use wire cutters or screwdrivers. It does not teach how to drill holes, use a hacksaw, install rivets, or paint. These topics are covered far better in books written by experts in these skills.

I wish I had a book like this when I had started—so much so that I decided to give something back to the car community. Seeing people changing suspension components without understanding the consequences or attaching suspension brackets anywhere convenient, without understanding, was another big reason.

Ten years of learning and building is distilled into one book that can help you on your own challenging, formidable, yet rewarding journey of designing and building your own sports car. If after reading this book you succeed in building your dream, I will have succeeded. I think you'll enjoy watching over my shoulder as the project takes shape, and regardless of what you decide, I hope this book provides some entertainment!

Either way

This book will save you money. If you decide to build a car, it will show you what to do, and what to avoid. And if, after reading this book, you decide, “Gee, this guy is nuts, way too much work,” this book will have saved you lots of time and money! Either way, it pays to own this book!



Who or what is "Lulu"?

Lulu is a Print-On-Demand (POD) publisher. They store the manuscript in their computers and print a book only after it is ordered - there is no warehouse full of books. The POD publisher handles all printing, order-taking, shipping, and customer service. Another plus is that changes/corrections to the manuscript can be made very quickly because there are no physical books. They make their profit from printing charges and value-added services.

Why can't I get the book through Amazon or Barnes & Nobel - you know, a real bookstore?

As of mid-2009, you can now buy the book on Amazon!

Does any other bookstore carry the book?

Yes. Autobooks, in Burbank, California, a HUGE automotive and aviation bookstore. Imagine walking into a store the size of Barnes & Noble bookstore, but it's only about cars and aviation. You can spend a lot of time and money there - I know I have. As an added perk, Jay Leno usually drops by at least once a week.

Does your book give a step-by-step process of how to design and build a mid-engine Honda-powered car?

Yes, and no. The book gives step-by-step instructions of how to design and build a mid-engine sports car, using any FWD engine you want. The book teaches how to design the car, without literal instructions. It's not a cookbook, like, "... drill holes here and weld tube A to B..." That's too limiting; we all have access to different components in our own part of the world. There's a saying, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." This books teaches you to fish.

I don't want to use a Honda engine.

Then this book is perfect for you - it teaches how to design a sports car using any drivetrain.

Why buy the book if the same stuff's on the Web site?

The book contains loads of technical material that is not on the Web site, including many drawings. Also, since the Web site is a diary, issues are dealt with sequentially. The book has the advantage of perfect hindsight, so you get the right information, instead of reading through the entire diary and possibly missing the correct solution.

What makes the color book worth the extra money?

292 high-quality color pictures make it easier to see different components. Plus, it's cool.

When's the e-book coming out?

Never. Anyone can crack DRM (Digital Rights Management) in about five minutes. In addition, reformatting the manuscript to get the e-book pages to "fit" the typical computer monitor is a pain, and finally, virtually no one has asked for one.