Because great classic cars don't have to die.
In the world of classic cars, you might have heard of restomods, classic restorations, and continuation cars. While you likely know what the first two are, continuation models are far less common. Best described as a modern replica of a vehicle the automaker no longer produces, they're typically built using the original blueprints and standards, and, if they're not available, detailed measurements of the original parts. A continuation is generally preferable to a replica as it will usually be authorized by the original manufacturer, if they still exist, or built by the manufacturer itself, and in some cases, will even be assigned original chassis numbers. Continuation cars tend to be expensive as they are low-production models. It's only just starting to really take off as an automotive segment, but we've already seen some fantastic cars brought back to life. These are our favorites so far.
It's one of the most beautiful race cars ever built. The legendary Pete Brock designed the original, and he returned to polish the design for the continuation model. Its dimensions are around two percent larger than the first run, and the original chassis engineer, Bob Negstad, also made some modifications, most noticeably to the suspension. This particular model has a 50-state-legal Roush-built Ford 427 cubic inch V8 with a Holley electronic fuel injection under the hood and is rated at over 500 horsepower. It's also eligible for the Shelby Registry and has a personal note from Pete Brock himself detailing the car's modifications. An example recently went up for sale on Bring A Trailer, where it sold for an astounding $210,000.
The Vanwall is considered the most important Formula 1 car produced in the UK and claimed the Formula One Constructors Championship Trophy in 1957. Vanwall returned in 2020, now rebranded as Vanwall Group, and built six new continuation cars based on the 1958 championship-winning car. One of the six built is for Vanwall Historic Racing Team, and the other five are for sale privately for a little over $2 million each. Each one is hand-built using the original drawings and blueprints from the 1950s and powered by a 270-hp, 2,489cc Vanwall engine.
For an idea of how impactful Vanwall was in its day, the company was responsible for engineering innovations such as using disc brakes in Formula One. That gave the team an advantage over Ferrari along with the Colin Chapman-designed chassis.
In 1963, Zora Arkus-Duntov, the man who pushed the Chevrolet Corvette to become the car it is today, had to create the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport program in secret. Due to political reasons, GM didn't want to go racing, but the godfather of the Corvette knew better. Unfortunately, the program was exposed after only five of the 125 Corvette Grand Sport models were built and promptly closed down. Those five cars are tucked away and worth millions, but in 2005 the Duntov Motor Company decided it should build more, then a while later, GM agreed and gave its permission. The continuation model was built using a set of original blueprints and molds.
The one pictured below is numbered GS011 and came with a 460-cubic-inch V8 with over 875 hp. That was swapped for road use with a Gen 5-427 V8 crate engine with 480 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque.
Peak Aston Martin is when the British automaker sticks a V12 in a small car. To celebrate Aston's V12 engine and the 100th anniversary of legendary styling house Zagato, Aston Martin commissioned Swedish company R-Reforged to build a continuation V12 Zagato. Only 19 pairs were built to be sold together, with the first going to Andrea and Marella Zagato. The masterpieces were created in the UK as an evolution of the 2011 Aston Martin Vantage V12 Zagato Coupe and with the 5.9-liter V12 engine now producing 600 horsepower, 85 more than the original. Each one takes 12 craftspeople 16 weeks to assemble and costs "if you need to ask, you can't afford it" money.
The Brits are way ahead in the continuation game, and the Series Land Rover was ripe for the picking. Land Rover launched its 'Reborn' project in 2016 to restore 25 Series I models back to pristine health. By using original chassis and using specification parts from the back catalog, the continuation models were road legal and certified classics. Customers were able to decide if they wanted the longer or shorter wheelbase model and had a choice of five period-correct paint colors.
Shelby Cobra replicas are a dime a dozen and vary drastically in cost and quality. The best, however, are the officially licensed continuation cars made by Superperformance under the name of Shelby Legendary Cars. The one pictured below is from the run of special editions honoring one of Shelby's most successful drivers, Bob Bondurant. The special edition is based on the CSX2345 roadster Bondurant took five race wins in. You won't get one new now, but it originally cost $149,995 for the fiberglass roadster, $249,995 for an aluminum-bodied version, and $289,995 for an FIA-spec track version.
The 4 ½ Litre Supercharged from Bentley, more commonly known as the Blower, is another British racing icon. When Bentley decided to build a 12-car continuation series, it became an insanely detailed project. It was created by reverse-engineering an original 1929 Bentley Team Car using precise laser-scanning and extensive CAD work. It required digitally creating 1,616 individual parts, plus 230 assemblies and the work of specialists and suppliers on top of the engineers, craftspeople, and technicians within Bentley's bespoke Mulliner division. The 4.5-liter supercharged engine alone was painstakingly recreated using modern materials. Recreating a 90-year-old car isn't easy and required bringing in firms like the Vintage Car Radiator Company to recreate the Blower's mirror-polished solid nickel silver radiator shell and its hand-beaten, steel-and-copper fuel tank. The first model took 40,000 hours to build. It is, without a doubt, one of the most exact recreation models out there.
Superperformance is a big name in continuation cars, and its GT40 is the vehicle it's best known for. Our favorite is the 50-car special edition using the same chassis design as the original 1969 Le Mans car. It's so close to the original that 90 percent of the parts are interchangeable with an original GT40. Updates over the original include an adjustable pedal box, Wilwood disc brakes, and H&R springs with Bilstein dampers. Amazingly, it could be optioned with a "Tool Room Reconfiguration" pack "that mechanically replicates how these winning cars were raced and can be homologated for sanctioned historic racing." Bizarrely, that option included a Gulf Racing Series guitar with a matching VIN. The new GT40's used the P1000 continuation numbers.
Funny enough, Aston Martin didn't mind boasting that the DB4 Zagato Continuation is its most expensive new car, and it was sold alongside the DBS GT Zagato for $7.8 million. That's not surprising as it took 4,500 hours to build each DB4 and only 19 units were created. The exterior paint is matched with the original masters created by Max Meyer & ICI, and the interior is fitted with a roll bar as standard and trimmed in Obsidian Black leather and Black Wilton carpets. It's powered by a 4.7-liter version of the straight-six cylinder gasoline engine, a little larger than the DB4 GT Continuation, and makes almost 400 hp. The power is laid down through a four-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential to the rear wheels.