Resto-Mod; a process where you restore the look and feel of a classic car, but modify or update the mechanical bits – ideally giving you the best of both worlds.
Now resto-mods are quickly gaining in popularity. The attraction is understandable. For one, you get a more reliable car you can sort of run every day. And then because the mechanical bits have been updated, you also get more effortless performance; always a bonus. Off late, the resto-mod scene has been heating up considerably, particularly on the continent. Something of a cottage industry now, with firms like Eagle, Singer (in the US) and Alfaholics making some incredible machines out of garage-size facilities, these updated classics are today widely considered to be some of the most fun-to-drive cars around.
More mod than resto, most of these cars are rebuilt from scratch. Chassis and body shells are beefed up and seam welded, the brakes are uprated and made fade free and since the engines deliver so much more reliable power, you can really push these cars.
The late 60s Alfa Romeo Gulia based resto from Alfaholics, for example, uses a naturally aspirated 240hp modern Alfa motor. There’s no power steering, the suspension is good enough to hurl it around a track and the car weighs just 830kg. People who have driven the car rate it as one of the best driving experiences; ever.
Resto-mods could also be very appealing back home. What with our recent proliferation of semi-affordable custom and modification shops and increasingly capable pool of classics and vintage car restores, resto-mods could be a fun way to revisit our classics and young-timers.
The good old Fiat 1100 is one obvious candidate. A car I badly wanted to up-rate, back in the day, I planned to use an engine off a severely rusted Fiat 125S. I was told the engine, prop-shaft and rear differential would need a lot of work, but it could be made to fit. What a tantalising prospect that would have been. The 125S ran one of the greatest four-cylinder engines ever, Fiat’s ‘Lampredi’ Twin- Cam. An engine designed by the famous ex-Ferrari engineer; it won a record 10 WRC manufacturer titles. The 1.6 engine in the 1968, the 125S made a 100hp. Today there are plenty of powerful Fiat twin cam engines floating around. The big bore 1.6 from the Siena, the long stroke ‘Torque’ from the Palio and, if you really want to be adventurous, even the 1.4 turbo borrowed from a Linea T-jet. Turning these engines through 90 degrees and mounting them won’t be easy, and the chassis, suspension and brakes will have to be heavily worked on. But this could be epic. Want something more modern? How about a gen one Swift, with a 1.8-litre Honda engine stuffed under the bonnet and rally spec suspension? Or a Civic with an Accord V6 shoe-horned under the hood. Wouldn’t that be a laugh.