By Martin Alva - November 20, 2018
To Restore Or To Resto-Mod, That Is The Question…
Human history has had a handful of questions arise that we have never been able to answer satisfactorily. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Did Achilles defeat the tortoise? Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin?
These questions might or might not have an answer. What we are bothered about is an equally important choice that haunts every classic car collector at least once in his life. To restore or resto-mod? Which of these truly preserves the spirit of a car, restoration or resto-modding? Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin.
Restoration is about preserving history. In the eyes of the purist, a classic car should be restored to its original factory specifications using nothing but original parts. The car was perfect when it rolled off the assembly line many years ago, there is no reason why it needs to move to newer, lesser parts and spares, right?
On the other hand, resto-modding maintains the car’s period aesthetics while bringing the old girl into the modern age. It is the destiny of machines to be upgraded or be replaced, for progress cannot be stopped. Besides, what good is a classic car if you can’t drive it around daily, legally and safely, right?
As it is in the world of classic cars, nothing conforms to a preset pattern or regulation. People can’t even seem to agree whether a car is a vintage, classic, antique, or just a horseless carriage. Similarly, the restoration versus resto-mod conundrum does not have an absolute answer.
The plot thickens when you consider that had automotive technology not progressed as it has, we would still be driving around in unsafe vehicles. Yet, we cannot see where we are headed if we do not know where we have been, which is why classic automobiles are so crucial to the industry.
This is where you, as the proud owner of a classic car, come into the picture. If you want your car to be a pristine example of the automotive technology and craftsmanship of its time, then a period-correct restoration is the path to take. If you are one of those people who wants to eke out the last drop of your classic car’s potential by driving it as it was meant to be driven, it is not a crime to add basic amenities like seat-belts, modern lighting, better braking, and perhaps even air conditioning to the vehicle.
The cold, hard truth is that as classic cars add more years to their odometers, it becomes increasingly difficult to source original parts for them. The challenge to hunt down and secure original parts and spares might be exhilarating, but think about it: You have just taken a period-correct part off the market, and the odds of you finding another part, were the current one to conk off, are slimmer already. With this in mind, it is not so painful to go for resto-modding. You never know what your car is capable of until you upgrade it.
Ruining your driving experience just to keep your car original is not the brightest idea. Add better suspension, insulation, air conditioning, even nice upholstery to your car and who knows, you might enjoy driving it even more than you already do!
Finally, value. Purists argue that swapping OEM parts for aftermarket ones drastically affects the perceived value of a classic car. While that is true, only garage queens are susceptible to the ups and downs of resale value because they aren’t being driven anyway. Nowadays, people are willing to pay for a tasteful resto-mod if they can ascertain the car has been subject to thoughtful upgrades that elevate its driving experience without losing its authenticity entirely.
To conclude, we would just say that this debate will never have a solution. What the debaters can agree upon is that working on classic cars brings them joy. With that in mind, all we say is live and let live. Some people prefer to gaze upon a classic car and look back in time to a different era they fantasize over. Yet other people look at a classic car and see what it can evolve into with the right modifications. In the end, classic cars stand to win.
To finish our long-winded loud thinking session, we instantly fall head-over-heels for Eleanor, yet still retain a fondness for a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 Mustang underneath a classic 1967 Fastback shell!