Today someone asked me if I thought that there was a business in buying the regular product of a big-name OEM, stripping it down of its body and adding a new look for the car.
Not a one-off project, not a component car, not even really a kit car, but rather a well-engineered body replacement strategy on which to base a business.
I did not have to think long in replying that this was not a good business, but why? The detailed thought process is so much more interesting than the answer. Here's how it seems to me:
Of course, the first assumption is that the person buying the car cares about the new body shape, or else why pay more to change it.
One can also assume that there is little/no environmental benefit as the weight of the total vehicle could not be meaningfully reduced, so the interested buyers would not be motivated by additional sustainability claims.
Lastly there is unlikely to be any substantial performance difference in/due to the new body.
These three reasonings guarantee that the advantage in the re-bodied car is purely restricted to the "style" of the new car. In no other way does such a car represent extra value (not in performance, engineering, layout, etc).
This means that since the price of the previous-body OEM is fully embedded in the re-bodied car that the price of the new style must be more than the increased cost of the work plus a margin.
And this is where the idea really falls down: is any volume of people willing to pay a substantial markup above the price of a regular OEM car just because there is a different body on the vehicle?
My answer: NO
In short, there is more magic in a car than the just the body style. Basically, the whole car must "Fit" together as a unit before it takes on a life and magic of its own....now if that is the kind of package that someone is offering, then I am all ears.