Every car lover wants a great classic in their drive. No car lover truly wants the fuss, bother, heartache and garage bills that owning a 50+ year old piece of machinery entails. Driving straight into this contradiction - and solving it with a large price tag - is the restomod, a rebuilt, reimagined version of the original, now on the rise and irresistible rise. The only question now is which of these old-made-new restomods would you like in your driveway?
Looks like a classic Mini, drives like something from another - very fast - planet. Canadian Mini fanatics Spectre Vehicle Design have taken Alec Issigonis's 1959 original and transformed it into a mid-engined sports car. Yes, really.
Twin air scoops - one to each rear side of the car - provide a clue to the location of the motive power: a 230 bhp Honda 2.0L VTEC engine mounted behind the extraordinary minimalist front seats, inspired, say Spectre, by the Bauhaus and mid-century modern design. The new dash - incorporating classic instrumentation - is a single piece of polished wood.
Essential out-of-sight modifications include structural reinforcements to deal with the weight and power of the new Honda engine. Spectre describe acceleration as "shocking", which is also what Lamborghini drivers will think when they're out-dragged. By a Mini.
Alfa Romeo's 1960s Giulia Sprint GTA was a legend on the racetrack, winning multiple championships. The original is super-rare and commands similiarly rarified prices at auction. Enter Italy's Totem Automobili with not one but two highly contemporary takes on Alfa's little racer, the original styled by the Bertone design house.
The Totem GT twins are built entirely by hand. Carbon fibre is used throughout and the look is now bulky and forceful. Bulged arches front and rear accommodate frankly huge tyres. None of this is for show. The Super is equipped with Alfa's own twin-turbo V6 from the current Giulia Quadrifoglio. Power is up to 620 bhp, which is a lot for a supercar, let alone a lightweight sports car. Those fat tyres are needed to get all of that on the road.
The GT Electric is no less potent, with Totem quoting a 0 - 100 km/h time of less than three seconds, supercar fast. Both cars benefit from a bespoke interior, moulded around your individual body shape. Dials, though classic in flavour, are full digitised, as Totem seek to maintain "the sporty and vintage character of the Alfa Giulia GT". We'd say they've succeeded, and then some.
The 911 is a popular choice with restomodders, and Dutch 911 fanatic Rico can't get enough of them. In fact, he gives the impression he'd like to keep all of his conversions for himself, telling a recent interviewer, "The look of it, the shape, the lines of the 911… it’s just perfect. And of course, the sound of that flat six engine with the SSI exhaust!"
Each 911 Outlaw is built to customer requirements and takes at least five months to complete. Rico's restomods not only respect the original but keep most of the parts, renewing where necessary to provide the client with a 911 that's largely new but that drives like classic rear-engined Porsches always have. Beware then, putting on power in mid-corner unless you want to get to know that hedge a lot better.
Rico works on other cars too - as well as bikes - but it's in 911s that his heart lies. His background is in fashion design and that practised eye is behind the tasteful additions to each Outlaw, such as black gloss alloys, bonnet straps and some side stripes where required. Interiors are refurbished and renewed but largely left to Porsche's original highly ergonomic design. Porsche perfection.
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