There’s an increasing desire to modernise classic and iconic cars. We look at some of the best.
In previous times, if you wanted a classic car, you’d have had to put up with its foibles such as sometimes-sketchy reliability, annoying driving traits (poor brakes, for example) and lack of modern-day technology.
But in recent years there’s been an emergence of ‘restomods’. These are essentially classic cars that have been modernised to make them easier to drive and live with, sometimes gaining an electric powertrain, while others boast enhanced performance and greater technology. The choice of restomods is now extensive. Here we look at some of the best restomods created.
Porsche 911 Reimagined by Singer
Given the desirability and popularity of the Porsche 911 over its 60-year production run, it’s no surprise that this is a model ripe for a restomod, and there are a host of companies out there that specialise in this. But leading the charge is California-based Singer Vehicle Design.
Renowned for the complete re-engineering of Porsche’s classic models, these classic 911s are famed for the way they drive, with Singer working with the best firms and suppliers to create the ‘ultimate’ Porsche 911. They unsurprisingly don’t come cheap.
There are few more famous rally cars than the Subaru Impreza, which was hugely successful in the World Rally Championship (WRC) in the late ‘90s and early noughties. Behind the Impreza’s domination was Banbury-based engineering specialists Prodrive.
To mark 25 years of one of Subaru’s iconic rally cars, Prodrive has now created the P25 which ‘reimagines what the car would have been like today’. Limited to just 25 units, each uses a original two-door Impreza WRX chassis as its core, but has been made lighter, more powerful and better to drive. The first cars are expected to be delivered later this year.
Jaguar XK120 by Lunaz
With environmental concerns increasingly on many people’s minds, there’s been demand for classic cars to be modernised with zero-emissions electric powertrains. One firm that’s right at the forefront of this is Lunaz, based close to the Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire.
Lunaz calls them ‘upcycled electric vehicles’, with the firm modernising classics from the likes of Bentley, Rolls-Royce and the stunning 1950s Jaguar XK120 we’re focusing on here. David Beckham even gifted his son Brooklyn one as a wedding present. Lunaz doesn’t only just fit an EV powertrain and leave it at that, but also integrates the latest technologies and reworks the driving dynamics.
Aston Martin Callum Vanquish 25 by R-Reforged
Ian Callum is one of the most famous British car designers, with famous hits including the Ford Escort RS Cosworth and the Jaguar F-Type. Another of his ‘classic’ designs was the original Aston Martin Vanquish, which was introduced in 2001 as the brand’s then-flagship model.
But as good as the Vanquish was when new, there’s always room for improvement, and that was exactly what Ian Callum did in 2020, alongside R-Reforged, by modernising his classic design. Limited to just 25 examples, the ‘new’ Vanquish sits lower, has bigger wheels and a wider track among the many mechanical changes.
Peugeot 205 GTI by Tolman Engineering
The sheer breadth of the restomodding scene is huge, and even funnels down to more ‘normal’ models such as the Peugeot 205 GTI. One of the most well-regarded hot hatches in history, Warwickshire-based Tolman Engineering has set out to modernise it with improved performance and more present-day convenience features.
Getting a significant boost in power from 128bhp to ‘in excess of 200bhp’, Tolman offers a host of upgrades that can improve this 1980s hot hatch, as well as carrying out full body and mechanical restoration.
Land Rover Defender Works V8
It’s not just independent companies that like to set about modernising their past icons, but also the manufacturers themselves. That’s the case with Land Rover, which tasked its ‘Classic’ division with creating the Defender Works V8 to mark the British brand’s 70th anniversary in 2018, a few years after production of the model ended.
Limited to 150 units, Land Rover fitted its modern 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine under the bonnet of its 4×4, putting out nearly 400bhp and letting this quite unremarkable looking car to accelerate from 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds.
Lancia Delta Futurista by Automobili Amos
Another past rally icon is the Lancia Delta, which spawned from when the brand was in its prime of motorsport and performance models – a space Lancia hasn’t competed in for many years. But there are still very loyal fans that are happy to pay for a Delta Integrale from the 1990s.
You can’t therefore blame Italian firm Automobili Amos for wanting to reinvent the Delta, and that’s just what it’s done with the Futurista. Limited to just 20 units, it starts with an original donor car, but reworks it into a two-door car, while using a host of carbon-fibre elements to bring the weight down.