Old cars made better with new tech is only getting more popular – it isn't hard to see why
By PH Staff / Sunday, 9 April 2023 / Loading comments
Porsche 911, 1972, 17k, £149,995
Where better to start than with a 911? The current fascination with air-cooled backdating, optimising, evocation-ing or whatever it’s called this week is such that we could easily do six of the best restomod 911s. And still have plenty left. But then it’s not hard to see the appeal, even if hot-rodding 911s has become a much more expensive endeavour over the past decade. There are so many possibilities and so much potential that the only real limit is your budget. This RSR homage is the ideal example of what can be achieved, a tenth of the price of the real thing with a host of uprated parts and a fantastic retro look. It’s actually been in this form since 2006, and known to the selling dealer for many years. With 320hp from a 3.4-litre flat six and only a tonne to move, plus KW dampers and an LSD to keep things mostly in check, it ought to be an absolute riot.
Jaguar E-Type V12, 1971, 900 miles (since rebuild), £169,000
It can feel like we’ve seen it all for reimagined E Types, from replica racers to electric conversions, but there don’t appear to be that many V12s about. Perhaps it’s still having to contend with being the less popular engine in period, but this car shows off perfectly the awesome possibilities of a later car. Now a 6.1-litre V12 (standard is 5.3) courtesy of Rob Beere Racing, this E-Type is producing more than 400hp at the wheels and boasts Jenvey throttle bodies, JE pistons, fast road cams and more – a five-speed gearbox and sports exhaust should make the most of it. Handling is taken care of by polybushes throughout, Gaz adjustable dampers, big brakes and better anti-roll bars. All wrapped up in the most evocative sports car shape around, improved with a few lovely little details like the modified bumpers and grilles, 16-inch wheels and LED lights. Long live the E-Type restomod!
Mini Clubman, 1970, 45k, £29,950
Now it’d be great if we could all spend six figures sums on an E-Type or 911 made perfect, but that’s not realistic. And while £30k is a lot for a classic Mini, it does make it a bit more accessible. And, just as importantly, this one looks just tremendous fun; not one for the purists with a Vauxhall engine under the bonnet, fully adjustable suspension, braided hoses and Yokohama Advan tyres, but who cares when the result looks like this? The Surf Blue Mini has been magazine featured, too, where it was described as ‘as much art as it is machine’ – we’d wholeheartedly agree. As if the outside wasn’t good enough, make sure you check out the interior. The CAE shifter, roll cage and harnesses hint at the intent, with the gorgeous upholstery and wheel bringing the style. A thoroughly marvellous Mini – and surely a lot cheaper to buy outright now than attempt to build from scratch.
Alfa Romeo 1300, 1968, some miles and kms, £59,950
Hopefully, you also have a saved search in the classifieds for ‘Alfaholics’. Because it doesn’t matter which classic Alfa has been tended to and what’s been done, you just know it’s going to be good. Fantastic, even. That’s the reputation the Clevedon-based firm has forged for itself in the business of making spectacular Alfa Romeo restomods. And while this 1968 coupe isn’t a fully-fledged, ground-up Alfaholics build, it does come with a huge array of parts that totalled £36,000 when ordered and fitted back in 2015. You won’t have to wait seven years for this one, either. Pretty much everything you can see (and plenty you can’t), from the 2.0-litre big valve engine swap (with billet rods) to the wheels, the pedals, the dampers, the steering arms and the dampers, are from Alfaholics. The best of the best, basically. For fast road and track use with perhaps the odd sprint thrown in for fun, the little old Alfa would surely be just about perfect.
Superformance GT40, 2014, some race miles, £475,000
This is upping the ante somewhat, given how many of the other cars could be bought for almost half a million, but if restomods are about classic cool and modern methods then they don’t come much better than a Superformance GT40. They’re the only officially sanctioned continuation cars, meaning they’re GT40s faithful to the original, albeit built decades later. Maybe not a restomod in the conventional sense then (if anyone can actually agree on what that is), but a spectacular race car nonetheless. Even by that exalted standard, some are more special than others, and chassis P2262 must be one of those; it’s a Goodwood winner, taking the chequered flag first in the 2017 Whitsun Trophy. Even in a more muted colourway than we’re used to seeing GT40s wear, it’s absolutely superb; with an FIA HTP until 2026, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be a race winner again in the very near future…
Land Rover Defender, 2016, 2k, £149,000 (plus VAT)
Now, this is clever. We all know there are many that like to look cool cruising around the capital in an old Defender. But with so many around nowadays, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. And ULEZ expansion means a whole swathe of diesel-powered cars, as this one once was, will incur a daily charge; even if you live in Queens Park and work in Mayfair, that’d be annoying. This Twisted build solves both those problems: an engine swap to the 2.3-litre Ford Ecoboost means it’s ULEZ exempt (and no longer slower than continental drift), and a 70s’ beach cruiser look means this is a Defender that looks like no other. And looks brilliant, too, it should be said. More than 700 hours have gone into creating the Lincoln Green goddess, and while it’s only a two-seater for the moment, there is scope for it to carry eight. You’ll be the most popular parent around in no time.
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