These Classic Restomods Look Nothing Like The Original

Restoring a classic car is the ultimate labor of love. It requires time, patience, skill, and a suitable workshop with the proper tools (unless the restorer has enough money to pay someone else to do the restoration). But the trade-off is the loss of satisfaction that comes with saying, “I did the restoration myself.”

An all-original restoration produces a car with the exact look it had when it first left the dealership. The vehicle is often the same make and model the restorer drove in his/her youth, a constant reminder of the good ole days.But a drawback of going all original on many restorations is the lack of some modern-day features like power steering, electric windows, a contemporary sound system, air-conditioning, or perhaps most important: cup holders. A car with the original color, interior, and the engine is rare and, as a result, can fetch a high price when and if it is sold.

A restomod, on the other hand, is a restoration not limited to the “stock” condition. Many Restomod cars still have that old school look but they may include modern features and conveniences like powerful engines, massive tires, and an upgraded suspension that can handle the extra power and provide superior handling performance. Air-conditioning and even cupholders may be added.

At the extreme end of the restoration spectrum, are the vehicles with radical modifications that make identifying the original a challenge. The following are ten Restomods with significant modifications to the original.

10 Porsche 550 Spyder With A Gold-Plated Engine

Porsche 550 Spyder with Gold-Plated Engine and orange interior
Via: Top Speed

American actor James Dean, best known for his role as a rebellious teenager in the film, Rebel Without a Cause, and his passion for sports cars, drove a Porsche 356. But in 1955, he upgraded to the faster 550 Spyder with its four-cylinder, 110-horsepower boxer engine, and its nimble handling.

The lightweight Spyder weighed a mere 1,212 pounds allowing the four-cylinder to push the car to a top speed of 143 mph.

James Dean would have loved this Spyder Restomod with its exclusive center-mounted seat and steering wheel. The gearbox shifter and emergency brake lever flank the driver, surrounded by a Singer-style, exquisitely crafted orange leather interior.

But perhaps the most unique feature is the gold-plated engine.

9 1940 Chevy “Tinmama”

Green 1940 Chevy “Tinmama” at SEMA
Via: YouTube

Luke Merrill, owner of Tinman 2 Kustoms, took more than twenty years to complete his project, a modified 1940 Chevy. Affectionately named for his mother, the “Tinmama”

Luke’s father bought the shell of a 1940 Chevy two-door Sedan even before Luke was born, but the car sat in the family garage on the backburner for many years.

When Luke started work on the car, he had the body chopped, widened, and shaved. It is supported by a chassis fitted with a 2017 Mustang independent rear suspension, Nova front subframe, and a complete airbag system suitable for any desired height adjustments.

Power comes from a fuel-injected 400 cubic-inch small-block Chevy producing 425 horsepower.

8 Fast And Furious Dodge Ice Charger

Dodge Charger with nonfunctional jet engine
Via: Facebook

Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) drove the modified muscle car in the eighth installment of the Fast a Furious series, The Fate of the Furious.

The reinforced, widebody gives the car a distinctive classic muscle car appearance when viewed from the front. But in the rear, the Ice Charger has a unique (nonfunctional) rear-mounted jet turbine that allowed the Dodge to rocket across a frozen lake in the movie.

The Chevy 500 hp LS crate engine under the hood provides the actual power and drives the high-performance all-wheel-drive system that permitted the muscle car to do all of its own stunts.

7 BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile Tribute With M3 Power

BMW 3.0CSL Batmobile Tribute with M3 Power sits on the side of the road
Via: Pinterest

Starting with a rusty 1973 BMW 3.0CS coupe, Willy Izaguirre created his Batmobile Tribute with inspiration from the original 3.0CSL Batmobile and an image by illustrator Jon Sibal.

He restored the BMW’s rocker panels and floors before adding fiberglass box flares and spoilers to imitate the CSL’s features. The result is a body exceeding seven feet in width.

The BMW is powered by an S52 inline-six mated to a ZF six-speed manual transmission from a 1998 BMW M3. Wily boasted the output to 550 horsepower by adding a Precision turbocharger.

The BMW restomod won the European Import category at SEMA’s annual Gran Turismo awards in 2017.

6 Ken Block’s Ford Escort RS200

Ken Block's Ford Escort RS200 at SEMA
Via: Motor1

The original 1986 Ford Escort RS 200 was equipped with a turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder producing 450 horsepower in race-spec trim. In addition to the racing version, Ford made 200 road-legal road cars, to comply with WRC homologation rules. Although a similar engine powered the road cars, it was detuned to 250 horsepower. Not too shabby, but not enough for Ken Block’s Hoonigan collection. His restomod Escort boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine mounted behind the front seats that generates a whopping 700 horsepower.

The car also features the Hoonigan characteristic custom gloss black paint job with a matte black vinyl top, enhanced interior, and a custom KW coilover suspension.

5 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna With 775 hp

Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna with 775 hp looks like a NASCAR race car
Via: Motor1

The 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna came standard from the factory with a 350 cubic-inch V-8 with a two-barrel carburetor. But for the 2018 SEMA show, Chevrolet chose a restomod version of the Laguna to showcase their latest and most powerful crate engine.

The powerplant installed in the Chevelle is the thunderous LT5 V8 producing 755 horsepower, the same engine that propels the C7 Corvette ZR1 to a 210 MPH top speed.

To help handle all that extra power, the Laguna rests lower on a custom suspension, employs bigger brakes, and uses NASCAR style wheels. The NASCAR-look of this restomod is further enhanced with the rear lip spoiler and front lower splitter.

4 Ringbrothers AMC Javelin Defiant

Green Ringbrothers AMC Javelin parked by the beach in Malibu

A $500,000 1972 AMC Javelin AMX is a car few people could imagine exists, but the Ring brothers did, and the Defiant is the result. They channeled the old-school spirit of AMC while mixing in modern innovative techniques.

The carbon fiber body panels and 4.5-liter supercharged Hellcat Hemi V8 that generates over 1,000 horsepower, make this Javelin unique.

Sometimes mistaken for a Camaro, the Defiant test driver from The Drive described the ride: “Suddenly, I was in another dimension, where normal existence had been replaced by a roaring engine and violent, earth-shattering acceleration.”

3 Vice Unlimited Trophy T

Vice Unlimited Trophy T before the body work is finished
Via: Just a Guy Car

Founded in Chicago in 1905 by C. A. Tilt, The Diamond T Motor Car Company began operations manufacturing touring cars, but later became known for its trucks. After producing military vehicles during WWII, the company resumed manufacturing a few commercial trucks in 1944, and by 1946 five different models were offered. Tim Odell of Vice Unlimited started his restomod project with a 1946 Diamond T 404 body and then proceeded to replace nearly every mechanical and electric part on the pickup.

The original engine that produced only 77 bhp at 2800 rpm was replaced with a 364ci LQ4 GM V8 and placed just behind the truck’s cab. A set of custom stainless-steel headers feed the ON3 Performance turbo, and the MSD Atomic Airforce intake and a JEGs camshaft help generate a whopping 650 horsepower.

2 Gunther Werks 400R

Red Gunther Werks 400R Porsche
Via: Motor1

The 993-series Porsche 911, whose model years spanned 1995 to 1998, represented the ultimate evolution of the breed; the final iteration of air-cooled Porsches that marked the end of an era.

Gunther Werks replaced the original 282-horsepower, 3.6-liter mill with a 4.0-liter engine producing 400 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Six-piston Brembo CCM-R brake units were installed to bring everything to a halt.

But perhaps the modifications made to the suspension are the most impressive. Options include KW or JRZ hardware. The latter offers additional active damping that performs calculations up to 1,000 times per second.

1 Ford Mach 40

Ford Mach 40 Restomod
Via: Motor1

Starting with a beat-up 1969 Mustang Mach 1, the group at Eckert’s Rod & Custom and Hardison Metal Shaping in Molalla Oregon, dedicated three years and over 11,000 man-hours to create a perfectly balanced machine that looks more like a concept car than a restomod.

The builders extended the chassis to provide enough room behind the driver for the 5.4-liter supercharged V8 they removed from a wrecked GT.

The mechanics replaced the stock 2.4-liter supercharger with a Whipple 4.0-liter unit. A tweek to the ECU resulted in a boost of output to 850 hp. This restomod is not your average Mustang.