The problem with kit cars is all the work required to get one road worthy. I mean what’s a lazy individual supposed to do? Well, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Aquila GT comes fully assembled, so all you need do is drop your shiftless ass in the seat and drive off. That is of course, if its price is right.
In an odd but carefully planned juxtaposition between today’s car and yesterday’s it’s interesting to note that Thursday’s production car Corvette had some assembly required, while our kit car candidate today comes turn-key, and ready to rock. Maybe it was the prospect of all that work juxtaposed against its nearly nine grand price that doomed the ‘Vette to a 59% Crack Pipe loss, despite it having matching numbers.
Expecting numbers to match anything anywhere on today’s “Barn Find” Aquila GT will be an exercise in frustration as this cool 1963 VW Type 1-based custom is a kit car. Brought to market at the tail end of the kit car craze in the early 1980s, the Aquila was the product of American Fibre Craft of Cupertino California.
The Aquila’s styling is eerily reminiscent of the Paul Bracq-designed BMW E25 Turbo, built in honor of the 1972 Munich Olympics. It’s not an exact copy mind you, but more a version drawn by a bored high schooler on the back of his Trig notebook, during detention.
Surprisingly, that’s also what the Aquila’s hand-drawn builder’s manual - included with the car - looks like, sporting on its cover a wicked cool hand-drawn eagle behind the gullwing equipped car.
Of course owing to the unknowable skill level of its builder, buying someone else’s home brew car is sort of like signing up to be the drummer for Spinal Tap. This one is claimed by its seller to have been a barn find. That must have been a metaphorical barn as the car appears to be immaculate in its conception. I should also note the seller's name - 1st Noel. I'll bet this guy's a hoot and a half at the Holidays
Owing to the peculiarities of automotive licensing laws, the car is registered as a 1963 VW Type 1, which means that’s the chassis the underpins the GRP sports car body. One would hope that the car’s rebirth has resulted in an upgrade to the VW’s practically useless brakes, however if that’s the case. it goes unmentioned. The 1200-cc VW mill and 4-speed gearbox providing the motivation looks to be stock, but with likely only 45-bhp on tap there’s little chance that this Aquila’s performance will match its looks.
Of course appearance is the reason people buy and build kit cars, and this one looks pretty amazing - albeit on some of the most awful looking faux wire wheels ever seen. Part of that's due to the Aquila being a pretty well thought-out kit, featuring rolled edges on the wheel arches, and a separate tub for the passenger compartment. Plus, pop-up lights! Who doesn’t love those?
Oh sure you could pass a cat through any of the the panel gaps without disturbing a whisker, but that’s pretty much the nature of GRP bodies. And despite that this Aquila’s panels seem to be free of waves or stress cracks.
Remarkably this one even has its original Aquila-branded floor mats, which may very well be the last set on the planet. Above those sits a dashboard that looks straight out of a motorhome, with puny SW gauges set into a photo-printed burlwood panel. There’s also a weird ‘80s AutoComp trip computer in the console that looks like something cobbled together for the movie Explorers.
While kit cars ads usually present an incomplete project, with pictures showing little more than a sad jumble of fiberglass VW parts strewn among the backyard weeds. This one’s totally different, appearing to be a complete realization of the kit maker’s dream. And, as it has apparently been socked away for so long, still has the patina of new all over it.
But is it worth paying 1st Noel $9,995 for the honor of driving it (slowly) away? Before deciding you should consider that American Fibre Craft is long gone, and there are reportedly fewer than 150 Aquilas ever to have popped out of the molds, much less still prowling the roads. Assuredly, there are even fewer in this kind of condition.
What do you think, should someone pay $9,995 for a shot of this Aquila? Or, is this a kit not worth that kaboodle?
H/T to Mark Marshall for the hookup!
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