Street legal Go Kart Requirements

So you want to make a street legal go kart eh? Well let me be the first to tell you that this is a ridiculously hard task and it would likely cost you thousands of dollars…I will explain why. I am not saying it’s not possible to get it street legal, just that it may not be practical.

First thing’s first…if you came here to ask “is a Go Kart Street legal“, the answer is NO!

To make your go kart street legal it needs to abide by all the general automotive requirements across all 50 US states and the provinces of Canada. You must check your own state or provincial laws to make sure your kart is legal. MOST GO KARTS WILL NOT BE STREET LEGAL!

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How fast is a 500cc go kart?

Speeds of the 400-500cc go karts reach the top end of what is recommended for these buggies near almost 60 MPH. The durable construction is able to transport up to 500 lbs. of cargo without sluggish performance while the manufacturers continue to keep an eye on safety innovations and implementations.

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Drakan Spyder

With a name that sounds like it could be a Lord of the Rings or Warcraft character, the Drakan Spyder is appropriately intimidating from a performance standpoint. That’s because it hides away a naturally-aspirated LS3 E-Rod V8 engine that’s good for a class-topping 430 horsepower and 424 ft-lbs of torque in a package that weighs just 2,000 pounds. That also means it can do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds and has a top speed of 165 miles per hour. Granted, that comes at a high price, but what are you willing to pay for one of the most thrilling driving experiences of your life? This ride also comes with an added bonus for the DIYers out there. If you want to turn it into a project car and drop your own engine into it, they also sell a rolling chassis version for $25k less than the turnkey price. And if it can fit an LS3 engine in the bay, guess what? It can also fit Mopar’s Hellephant 1,000 hp crate engine. But you’d have to be absolutely mad to try such a thing, right?

Horsepower: 430 Torque: 424 Seats: 2

Purchase: $125,000+

Ariel Atom 3RS

Source: arielna.com
Source: arielna.com

Remember how I said that Ariel Atom 4 takes the cake for the value and fun factor? Well, Ariel Atom 3RS is as much fun, if not more, but it comes at the steeper price of $119,995. Not too shabby for a go-kart.

Ariel Atom 3RS is a bit less agile than its cheaper brother because it weighs 1,450 lbs, but it is by far more powerful. Turbocharged 2.4L Honda 6-speed manual transmission engine produces 425 bhp and 365 lb-ft of torque, with a top speed of only 155 mph.

But who needs top speed when you can get to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. You are almost sure to win a drag race against anyone, even motorcycles, and that makes it the fastest street-legal go-kart on this list.

Why is karting so expensive?

A part of what makes karting so expensive is that it’s not only the high start-up cost, but there is also a running cost. In a sport like soccer for example, there’s an initial investment of boots and a ball, but playing in the park or kicking the ball around the garden is free.

Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring LE

Source: midwestpolaris.com
Source: midwestpolaris.com

Let’s start with the cheapest go-kart on the list, Polaris Slingshot Grand Touring LE. This vehicle will make you feel special, not just because of its uniqueness and luxury but also because there are less than 300 of them made globally. And with a base price of just under 34k, Polaris Slingshot is one of a kind three-wheel bullet that has the potential to make you money in the long run.

Polaris is one of the least powerful cars on this list, with 203 bhp and 144 pounds of torque produced by GM Ecotec 2.4L DOHC 4 Cylinder engine. Zero to 60 mph time is also not that impressive, considering it only weighs 1,640 lbs, but at 4.9 seconds is not all bad at all compared to your regular cars. A top speed of 124 mph is also not something to brag about but do you need to go faster than that?

There are other trim levels that Polaris comes in, S, SL, SLR, and Grand Touring. If you do not want to spend 35 grand on the LE or cannot get your hand on one because no one can, you can buy Polaris S for as low as $20,999.

And in case you are wondering, Polaris does not come with an airbag. For that reason, some states might require you to wear a helmet.

How to Make a Go Kart Street Legal

Well for starters, I would consider doing this to something more like buggy as opposed to a go kart made for track racing. Some of the requirements will already be met on some karts like headlights, seat belts, and a round steering wheel.

Install All Required Parts – Try Looking in a Salvage Yard

You may be wondering, where would you get parts. You can try hitting a salvage yard for either used car parts or possibly even better a four wheeler salvage yard with ATV’s and UTV’s. Since many UTV’s are built to be street legal already and they are similar in size to some karts. You can pull salvage parts cheap and not worry about breaking the bank to do your conversion. Once you have all the parts…

First I would add the required safety gear safety gear that you would have on a normal car. I would Install the steering wheel, windshield, tail lights, headlights, turn signals, safety belts, brakes (including a parking brake), rear and side view mirrors, engine hood, a speedometer, and an odometer. Then thoroughly check everything to make sure its safe and secured to the vehicle.

Speed Test at a DMV

Once all of the modification was complete I would move on to speed testing my kart. In order to be considered safe it must meet certain speed requirements to be drivable on the road. To speed test your go kart you can call your local Department of Motor Vehicles to complete a speed test and have your go kart verified.

An Officer of the Law Must Inspect it First

Before a DMV official allows you to take a speed test he will have a police officer check your vehicle for proper installation and safety equipment. If you pass the initial inspection than the DMV official will perform the speed test with you.

NOTE: Do not drive your Go Kart to the DMV, you will get a ticket and it will be impounded. 

How to Pass the Speed Test

You should first fill the gas tank before taking your test to ensure your engine runs smoothly. If  your go kart goes faster than 25 miles per hour as its top speed, it will fail. If it does not exceed 25 mph and the go kart meets the required safety standards the DMV inspector will deem street legal. Congratz!

Vanderhall Carmel Roadster

Vander Hall Usa
Vander Hall Usa

Like Britain’s legendary Morgan Motor Company, Vanderhall builds street-legal go-karts (though they both prefer the term “roadsters”) for the discerning gentleman. While their competitors tout outrageous, over-the-top designs, Vanderhall deftly blends marine-inspired sleekness with the looks of vintage, early 20th-century racecars. Make no mistake, though: under the hood, their offerings boast plenty of power. The flagship Carmel Roadster pushes 200 horsepower and 203 lb-feet of torque thanks to a 1.5L GM turbocharged four-cylinder. The removable roof, swing-out doors, and 19-inch wheels make it all the more fun to drive.

Donkervoort D8 GTO-RS

Most of Donkervoort’s iconically-styled vehicles are not for road use. But when they decided to make a road-going go-kart, they managed to still capture their same style and spirit in a street-legal version they call the D8 GTO-RS. Loaded with an Audi 2.5L R5 TFSI engine, the D8 is good for 380 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque — which makes for a speedy drive by any measure that is helped by the fact that it weighs only 1,532 pounds. That means it can do 0-60 in a blistering 2.7 seconds. For reference, that’s about the same as a modern Porsche 911 Turbo. To cope with all that power, Donkervoort had to completely redesign the body to optimize downforce and improve aerodynamics. And they managed that beautifully — 20 percent better than previous iterations — without sacrificing their iconic looks. The big issue you’ll find with this vehicle, however, is that every example is already spoken for — meaning, if you want one, you’ll have to get it used.

Horsepower: 380 Torque: 369 Seats: 2

Purchase: $225,651+

10 Best Race Tracks In The USA

The roads can get a bit crowded, curbing the potential fun you can have in your street-legal go-kart. Of course, you could always take it down to one of the best race tracks in the USA and really push it to the limit.

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