Kaipan 14

The Kaipan 14 has presence, even something of the night about it that recalls tales of the Prague Golem. Its presence grows even greater when you're standing feet away from it.

The Czechoslovakian influence doesn’t end there though, since it’s based on the out of production Skoda Favorit. A car which saw out Communist rule and for which many people waited years of their lives. Though, as you can pick up a Favorit for as little as 10p over a pint, the practical and profitable blend easily with the emotional and philosophical up in the North Bohemian mountains where Kaipan is based.

Perhaps here then is the Czech renaissance. An almost iconic design. A stream of potential punters visiting their pre-war factory-showroom two hours north of Prague. Young dads willing to join the five-month waiting list for the Kaipan 14. Five cars in varying stages of production in the workshop beyond. A factory which turns out 10 Kaipan’s every month as kit and complete cars.

But then you open the Kaipan's distinctive long bonnet, and the worse fears for a car that is partly built from a second hand Skoda Favorit seem justified. Hidden deep within the long and cavernous engine compartment is a refurbished 1.3 Skoda Favorit engine that some how still looks rusty. A space that is crying out for an engine worthy of the design.

The impression gets worse as you turn the key. The engine struggles to start - three attempts - before it bursts into an exhausted rumble. Then you notice the pre-VW Skoda indicator sticks, dials and gear stick. Along with the dashboard switches that seem to come from my old toy train set. Crunching into gear - the box is from the Favorit too - and you’re off.

Somehow just then, the frown becomes a smile.

The fuel injection bolt-on helps flog the old engine up to a respectable 0-60 in 7.5 seconds. Although the front-wheel drive doesn't make the most of it. The lack of doors and any kind of roof gives it the edge. The grey of the tarmac caught through the bottom corner of the eye gives the thrill. But as the wheel base is slightly raised there is none of the tarmac skinning madness of a Caterham 7.

The spirit of the car - even if in practice it’s the size of a family car - gets you the kind of road space that means you don’t have to have to be suicidal to drive it. Behind the driver there is even a compartment big enough for beer, a barbeque and a tent. Just don’t try to park it - the long bonnet and raised rear make it almost impossible to tell where it begins and ends.

But get to know the car and Kaipan quality starts to show through Skoda-ness of it all -whether it’s the quality of the paint job, firmness of the body or the modified front suspension - even the small detailing such as the chrome and leather steering wheel. Kaipan have also sourced as many new parts as possible from the industry that helps keep the republic's 250,000 Favorits’ wheels tuning.

In the end to criticise the Kaipan 14 is perhaps to misunderstand its mission. It’s a fun car that without a roof is cheap enough to leave in the garage all winter without any family complaints; a car that in the Skoda Favorit loving world of Central and Eastern Europe has generated enough sales to enable a home-grown sports car company to survive and even grow. Not bad perhaps for a company which relies on word of mouth and reviews rather than advertising.

Kaipan themselves admit that in Western Europe the Kaipan 14 is going to be a hard sell - its Favorit-ness will put people off. Not helped by the registration documents of a new Kaipan 14 still saying that it's a very old Favorit.

Opposite in the showroom, the Lotus 7 look-a-like the Kaipan 57 shows the potential the 14 could have. The custom-built rear-wheel drive roadster with its 1.8 Skoda-Audi Turbo engine and top end specification - including a smooth new dash - combined with the body of a Kaipan 14 would make a killer combination.

With enquiries from the UK having stumbled over the Favorit dimension, this is exactly what Kaipan intend to do.


Model Kaipan 14

Price £12,000 (complete car), £4,000 (cheapest kit)

Engine Skoda Favorit 135-136

Body Composite body and steel tube frame

Transmission 5 speed, front-wheel drive

Top speed 87 mph

0-60 7.5 seconds

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk