Celebrating the finest restomod cars and trucks around.
The problem with old cars is simple: They're not very good. Nostalgia heads might enjoy fiddling with carburetors, but the problem is you have to fiddle with carburetors while everyone else is using reliable fuel injection systems. Machining and production processes have improved so engines last longer, and also make more power when designed to. Cars are safer now because we have the technology to do things like create crumple zones and inflate balloons before heads connect with steering wheels and dashboards. They're also safer because modern braking systems are incredibly reliable and effective, and modern suspension design and materials mean cars have much more chance of remaining on the road when performing emergency maneuvers.
Where old cars tend to shine is in looks and feel. Modern safety legislation has pushed designers into such a tight corner that the only place they can have a relatively free-reign with the stylus is at the back. That's why we have so many cars now that essentially look the same until you can take in the smaller details, and why many old car shapes remain iconic.
There is a way to marry the two positives though, and that's with the modified restoration project, more commonly known as a restomod. By taking an old car and modifying it with modern technology, it's possible to create something that's both beautiful to look at and drive. And, if you have the money, there are some incredible specialists out there willing to build the car of your dreams. These are just some of the cars they've come up with.
Singer is a California based company, and one of the most prolific, yet exacting, Porsche restoration and modification companies in the world. You could pick any Singer-modified 911 out and hold it up as an example of exquisite engineering matched to the style and spirit of the original vehicle, we just happen to have picked the one known as Mountain View. You only have to take a look at the picture of the engine bay where the interior trim style carries on. Yet, in the spirit of the Porsche 911, Singer models are designed to be driven.
You can fight amongst yourselves in the comments over whether this one should be included or not, as its not technically a restoration but more of a recreation. Revology takes the original design and builds it using contemporary parts and body panels. It looks like a beautiful classic Mustang, but underneath the R Spec is a buffed up Coyote V8 matched to a six-speed close-ratio manual managing the power going to a Ford 8.8-in rear axle built by Moser Engineering. AP Racing brakes make it slow down, and it needs to as this is Revology's track-focused Mustang.
Alfaholics is a UK-based company that has reworked an Alfa Romeo GTA to the point of refinement that it has been described as the perfect driver's car. The suspension has been overhauled and the 2.0-liter Twin Spark motor tuned to the Nth degree to create something that rides as well as it performs. All that, and Alfaholics has left the bodywork mostly untouched, but removed the bumpers to give it the rally styling it deserves.
ECD used to be called East Coast Defender and specializes in importing Land Rover Defenders and restoring and modifying them. You could argue that somebody in the US is doing it better, but you would be wrong. However, retro-modded defenders are, relatively speaking, common. If you want to see the real artistry, look at one of EDC's Range Rovers.
While the original Range Rover may have been the first vehicle to truly popularize the SUV, it's easy to forget it was basically a farm vehicle at the time. Spartan on the inside, just about enough power, and driving an original Range Rover feels like steering a boat. EDC will take an original Range Rover and give it a complete restoration and reworking that includes modern suspension, modern brakes, a modern interior feature set and, if you want, a 6.2-liter LS3 under the hood that's mated to a six-speed automatic.
Los Angeles-based Icon brings its insane attention to detail and engineering to off-roaders as Singer does to Porsches. The Bronco is big news right now, and Icon also specializes in the classic Ford model, but it's the FJ that gave Jonathan Ward his reputation for building incredible utility vehicles with a vintage aesthetic and modern technology.
Icon builds four versions of the FJ based on the original FJ models produced by Toyota from 1960 to 1983. The original aesthetic is preserved, but the body is made using high-grade aluminum and many other parts are milled by hand from billet aluminum. Inside, you'll find the custom interiors are made using top quality fabrics and leathers.
If you like large and very classic Mercedes, then German engineering company Mechatronik makes the ultimate in meticulously re-worked W111 Coupes or convertibles. You can choose from two versions of the Mercedes M113 eight-cylinder engine and have either a 5.0-liter or 5.5-liter lump burbling away as you cruise around. The upgrades go much deeper though and include a modern suspension and braking system as well as meticulously assembled interior to your exacting specifications.
This list would be incomplete without an entry from Ring Brothers and its distinctively off the hook style of restomods. The 1969 Dodge Charger Defector takes the iconic silhouette and lines of the Charger and adds the aggressive modifications that look like they could have come from the factory. The interior looks like the original, but has been carefully upgraded. Also, because it comes from Ring Brothers, under the hood is a 6.4-liter Hemi engine prepared by Wegner Motorsports.
How do you improve on the car that Enzo Ferrari described as "the most beautiful car in the world"? If you're the British restoration company Eagle, you tale a Jaguar E-Type and give it a modern 4.7-liter engine with plenty of extra cooling, a heftily upgraded chassis, modern and finely tuned suspension, power steering, modern brakes, air-conditioning, revamp the electrics and hide a modern infotainment system from view. Whoever said you can't buy class and style was wildly incorrect, you just need enough money. In this case, at least three-quarters of a million dollars for a Speedster GT.
Something you wouldn't expect is an Italian company, let alone one based in Modena, to specialize in taking anything but classic Italian sports cars to their limit. However, Ares is more than happy to lavish its time and attention on 1960s Corvettes. They'll give it modern brakes, suspension, refine the bodywork, give it an opulent interior, and then drop a whacking great 6.2-liter LS3 V8 crate engine that sends 518 horsepower to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
If you want a classic 911 that can smoke contenders on the street and track like a modern Porsche, check out Gunther Werks' 993 program. Gunther Werks hasn't been around long, but it dropped a bomb when it revealed a carbon-fiber clad, wide-bodied, sub-3000 lbs, canyon carver packing a 420-hp 4.0-liter flat-six engine. Everything about the chassis is as bespoke and tuned as the drivetrain, so all you need to bring is your wallet and the skill to match the car's performance.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is the home of Legacy Classic Trucks. In that idyllic spot, the company injects craftsmanship and high-end engineering into building incredibly rugged restomod trucks. They have several flavors to offer, but our favorite is the Dodge Power Wagon from the 1930s that's received a whole new lease of life as well as ability and comfort. Ruggedness is a watchword of the Legacy Classic Trucks as they spend over 1,000 working hours on each build.