Restomod. Res–to-mod. It’s a relatively new term; coined by oil-soaked engineers, classic car enthusiasts and people determined to resurrect their most-treasured motors — whatever the cost. But what does it mean?
In basic terms, a ‘restomod’ car ‘restores’ and ‘modifies’; combining both old and new technology to create a vintage-styled motor fit for the 21st century. It sees everything from drum brakes and sliding pillar suspension to the engine itself swapped out to create a modern machine with retro looks. Refining reliability, comfort and performance, these cars aim to take the best bits of automotive history — and then unleash them on the roads of today.
In basic terms, a ‘restomod’ car ‘restores’ and ‘modifies’...
And yet, some die-hards disagree with the practice. But there’ll always be those who consider it sacrilege to cut the original engine out of a 1967 Ford Mustang or 1986 G-Wagen and replace it with an electric powertrain. Here at Gentleman’s Journal, however, we’re firmly of the opinion that if it brings an otherwise rusting classic back to life, it must be a good thing. Here are some of the most talented ‘modders working around the world today…
The Expedition Motor Company, USA
Where are they based? Out in the rural backroads of Kingwood Township, New Jersey. It’s a fittingly off-road region for The Expedition Motor Company, who create some of the finest restomod SUVs on earth.
What do they specialise in? One of the most iconic 4x4s of all time; the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Whether you’re looking for a daily driver, a weekend beach cruiser, or a hunting rig, the team works with customers to create fully-bespoke, fully-restored all-terrain motors.
Which is their best project? The 1991 Mercedes-Benz 250GD Wolf (in the big picture above). With almost 1,000 man hours put into this build, it has updated everything from paint job to crankshaft seals.
The Expedition Motor Company
Where are they based? In Stuttgart, of course. For a brand that works so delicately and diligently on restoring vintage Mercedes-Benz motors, where better to set up shop than in the shadow of the carmaker’s Baden-Württemberg headquarters?
What do they specialise in? Two models in particular. The W111 and W113 series models are well worth some care and attention — and Mechatronik have been synthesising the cars’ old technology with new since 1997.
Which is their best project? Definitely the M-Coupe. Finished in either an original Mercedes colour (or a unique Mechnatronik mix), the M-Coupe benefits from bespoke new brakes and suspension, interior trim and the proven nineties M113 V8.
Emory Motorsports, USA
Where are they based? McMinnville, Oregon — where husband and wife Rod and Amy Emory founded their eponymous restomod business in 1996. Over the last two-and-a-half decades, they have meticulously restored over 170 cars.
What do they specialise in? The duo creates beautiful, personalised Porsche 356 and 911 ‘Outlaws’, restoring them to ‘factory-plus’ standards, from the metal unibodies and exteriors to mechanicals and sumptuous interiors.
Which is their best project? We’ve got soft spots for the Emory 911 Outlaw and truly unique Emory RS — but it’s got to be the Emory Special. Each is outfitted with an Emory-Rothsport Outlaw-4 engine and jaw-dropping bodywork.
Classic Recreations, USA
Where are they based? Founded 15 years ago by Jason Engel, Classic Recreations create and restore trophy-winning, track-burning high-performance cars from the dusty heartland of the United States, Oklahoma.
What do they specialise in? The company has a production line-up of officially licensed, carbon fibre-cladded Shelby Mustang muscle cars that forms the stylish, vintage backbone of the brand.
Which is their best project? The Shelby Mustang GT500CR 545. Forged from the iconic 1968-69 edition Mustang, Classic Recreations have shaved more than 600lbs off the car’s kerb weight using carbon fibre. That means it moves.
Cyan Racing, Sweden
Where are they based? Originally the Volvo Factory Auto Racing Team, Cyan Racing has been named ‘Flash Engineering’ and ‘Polestar Racing’ during its time on the track. Since 2018, they have been Cyan — and are based in Gothenburg.
What do they specialise in? Volvos, unsurprisingly. And one in particular when it comes to restomodding. Last year, Cyan announced a reinterpretation of the iconic Volvo P1800 — resurrecting the 1960s coupé with a turbo engine and hardcore suspension.
Which is their best project? See above. Curiously (but to great effect) Cyan decided not to imbue the new P1800 with mod-cons such as stability control, anti-lock brakes or brake boosting. One to please the traditionalists.
Where are they based? In Clevedon, North Somerset. Despite sounding like they should be tuning up old jalopies in sun-soaked Italy, Alfaholics is family-run by UK enthusiasts and specialists Richard, Maxim and Andrew Banks.
What do they specialise in? Alfa Romeos, if you hadn’t guessed by the name. Specifically, Richard and his sons are experts at tuning up and restoring the iconic 105 and 115 series coupés.
Which is their best project? This is a tricky one. We’d be tempted to say the stunning, bright orange 1973 Alfa Romeo Montreal the team tackled recently. But, instead, we’ve opted for this chummy 1971 GTA-R, painted in suitably Mediterranean ‘Giallo Ochra’.
Eagle E-Types, UK
Where are they based? East Sussex, where the team offer original and restored Jaguar E-Types for sale, all prepared to exceedingly exacting standards. Models include the Speedster, Low Drag GT, Spyder GT and relatively new addition, the Lightweight GT.
What do they specialise in? Upgrading perhaps the world’s most iconic classic car. And the team really do put in the effort — with each model claiming up to 500 man hours.
Which is their best project? We’re rather taken with the new Eagle Lightweight GT. Using materials including magnesium, Inconel and titanium, the thing really flies — and weighs in at just over 1,000 kilograms.
Gateway Bronco, USA
Where are they based? In true American automotive style, Gateway Bronco — the first approved Ford Bronco restomod company in the world — is based just off Route 66, in Hamel, Illinois.
What do they specialise in? Three types and trims of America’s iconic SUV. The ‘Fuelie’ Edition begins the range, with the ‘Coyote’ Edition following hot on its tyre tracks. And, for the top-line offering, the ‘Luxe GT’ Edition.
Which is their best project? That last one. The Luxe GT from Gateway Bronco is fitted with a furious 5.0-litre supercharged engine, active turned exhaust and ride control for an opulent, off-road experience.
Want more restored classics? Ecurie Ecosse has brought the Jaguar C-Type roaring back to life…
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