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Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Need some Christmas gift suggestions for Yours Truly? Here’s a partial guide in case you hit the Powerball jackpot. I can dream, can’t I?

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Any knucklehead who suddenly finds himself with way too much money can buy himself a Ferrari or Lamborghini… and people will point and say, “Look at that geezer having a mid-life crisis!” If my lucky Powerball numbers ever come up, I’d rather own a ride that makes people say, “What the f**k is THAT?” Many others feel as I do, and their hunger for fantastic vintage automobiles that are enhanced with modern technology and reliability has fueled demand for built-to-order vehicles ranging from exact reproductions to “restomods,” the best of old and new combined.

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If you watched “Ford vs. Ferrari” and fancy yourself tooling down the highway in a low-slung and throaty GT-40 (left), your prospects are a bit muddled. The name “GT-40” is owned by Superformance, a British company that makes somewhat credible (but far from exact) street-worthy reproductions of the original Ford GT-40 racer. When Ford wanted the name back for their re-introduced supercar, Superformance demanded so exorbitant a royalty that Ford simply badged their 2005 model as the Ford GT. Ford also released an updated version of it for the 2017 model year, and pre-owned examples of both regularly appear in the high-end automotive want ads. Meanwhile, several independent manufacturers out there will build you as real an original racing GT-40 as your heart can handle. See Gelsco Motorsport, Tornado Sports Cars, and especially Holman & Moody, one of the original constructors of the actual racing cars.

But one needn’t go full GT-40 for a satisfying fix of Carroll Shelby’s automotive genius. If you wish to hew closely to the Shelby factor albeit in a more commuter-friendly form, you are in luck– Revology builds 100% steel-bodied, brand-new vintage Shelby Mustangs under licensure from both Ford and Shelby.

A REVOLOGY Mustang 66 GT Fastback 2+2–  Absolutely beautiful on the outside…

A REVOLOGY Mustang 66 GT Fastback 2+2– Absolutely beautiful on the outside…

…AND inside. Note the modern amenities (touch-screen infotainment/GPS, backing camera, etc.) seamlessly juxtaposed with a period steering wheel and gear shifter.

This is the very heart of the current restomod craze– the marriage of vintage cool and modern technology.

Let us recall that after his injury-shortened racing career, Carroll Shelby first found fame as an automotive developer/designer by putting Ford engines into the under-powered AC Cobra British sports cars. We would be remiss, therefore, to omit the updated iterations of the Cobra 289 and the fire-breathing 427. Numerous constructors offer perfectly good knock-offs or interpretations of the original Cobra; however, Kirkham Motorsports stands out for their fantastic-looking and lightweight brushed aluminum bodies.

A Kirkham Motorsports 427 Shelby Cobra– better and lighter than the original.

Is off-roading more your thing? (It is mine.) If you are old enough to remember the original Ford Bronco and find yourself taken up a little short by Ford’s new 2023 version, then wow, are you (we?) in luck–

In all likelihood, Ford Motor Company came out with their updated version of the legendary Ford Bronco because the restomod versions had become so wildly popular that Ford wanted a piece of the business. And the undisputed leader in this restomod Bronco business is Gateway Bronco. For the price of a modest suburban home, they will build you a better-than-new vintage Bronco, like the one pictured above.

Gateway has recently been receiving an increasing volume of requests for restomod vintage Ford pickups as well. Why not? Pickups-- Ford, Chevy, or Dodge-- are rugged, practical, and often really cool-looking… some way more than others. On that note, please contact us immediately if you ever see one of these rare beauties–

A restomod Dodge Power Wagon from Legacy Classic Trucks–

the coolest pickup truck in the world.

Legacy Classic Trucks builds restomod vintage Dodge Power Wagons that, to my subjective eyes anyway, are perhaps the most beautiful pickups e-v-e-r! What's more, diesel power is an available option. The price? As they say– if you have to ask…

For those considering not just a single vehicle but rather a fleet of one-of-a-kind, brilliantly engineered restomod masterpieces of all different makes and model years, then Icon4x4 is your one-stop resource. Icon is known for a wide variety of exquisitely re-imagined rides from yesteryear, including an updated and deliciously over-built version of the original Toyota FJ40 and a line of “old-is-new” vehicles (they call them “derelicts”) that proudly feature a superficial patina of rust and wear that belies their brand-new, super-reliable internals. While all of Icon owner Jonathan Ward’s creations are beautiful, I find his re-imagined 1951 Willys Jeepster breathtakingly so.

If you are one of the many motoring enthusiasts who insist upon a Porsche, then we have good news– while the Porsche company merely designs and builds new Porsches, a trio of American companies re-creates and/or re-imagines historical models for discerning (and ultra-wealthy) Porsche fanatics. And so, for those who want more than the mundane regular offerings from Stuttgart, consider these–

James Dean in the 550 he nicknamed “Lil’ Bastard”

The Porsche 550 Spyder is one of the most coveted and iconic sports cars of all time. Only 90 units were built and sold during its short lifespan from 1953-1956, and James Dean famously died in one of them. Current auction prices for this unicorn run toward $5 million. However, for one tenth that price, Spyder Creations will build you a molecule-for-molecule exact reproduction, including a hand-hammered aluminum body as well as a vintage 1955 Fuhrmann 4-cam engine that alone costs upward of $275,000.

An OMG-Cool-Looking Rünge FF005

The iconoclastic Minnesota engineering genius Chris Rünge was always fascinated by Porches, particularly the classic 356. So he started building his own versions… by hand, right down to the mirror-polish aluminum body. And now his hand-built masterpieces, widely considered sophisticated works of art, are in extremely high demand. To learn more and perhaps order yours (or mine), contact Runge Cars.

But if you want a more conventional-looking souped-up Porsche that leaves all the showroom models in the dust, then Singer Vehicle Design is the name you can trust. Photography fails to capture what, exactly, justifies quadrupling a Porsche 911’s sticker price, for Singer’s engineering brilliancy lies where one cannot see it as readily as in the previous two suggestions. However, Singer’s rave reviews and lengthy waiting list speak for themselves.

And finally, we cannot give Shelby/Ford and Porsche all this free space without mentioning these two British restomod gems–

The 1971 Datsun 240Z

The Datsun 240Z, introduced in 1969, blatantly borrowed its sexy silhouette from Ferrari and made a genuine European-style sports car suddenly available to the masses… pretty clever work for a Japanese manufacturer. How great was it? A 1971 model– still wearing its sales sticker showing its $3757 showroom price– recently sold at auction for $460,000. But put your wallet away, at least for now– Great Britain’s MZR Roadsports recently garnered this gushing review for their 240Z restomod.

And if Jaguar is more your thing, who can blame you? Especially if, like so many others, you were permanently dumbstruck by the beauty of Coventry’s first E-Type. They stopped making them a long time ago, but a British company called Eagle E-Types has the audacity to “update” the car that none other than Enzo Ferrari once declared the most beautiful vehicle ever built.

Eagle “re-imagines” the E-type in made-to-order configurations such as “Spyder GT” and (gasp!) “SPEEDSTER,” both barely disguised calls-to-arms directed at Porsche-philes. Cheeky? Indeed… but just take a look at the Eagle Jaguar E-Type Speedster’s cockpit–

No words…

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The restomods and restorations I’ve taken such delight in sharing here are, of course, WAY beyond my price range and always will be. I’m actually pretty happy driving my practical and worry-free Toyota Tacoma around town or wherever else I need to go. And yet I remain deeply fascinated by the current restomod market and its far-reaching philosophical implications. Maybe it’s just the notion that we– the long-suffering American consumers who have watched our once-humming manufacturing base either vanish or turn to crap– can (in theory, anyway) acquire a product that combines the best of old and new. To me and many others my age, this is a most welcome development.

But if I cannot satisfy my seemingly innate lust for automotive exquisiteness such as I’ve presented here, I can take a measure of delight in finding the same aesthetic sensibilities in other, more affordable products, such as clothing. Accordingly, I am pleased to present yet another company that few if any of this audience have ever heard of.

Lost Worlds (please forgive their stone-age website) produces what can accurately be called restomod leather jackets. They use period patterns, old-fashioned leathers that are tanned to order, and, when possible, N.O.S. (“new old stock”) heavy-duty metal zippers. Accordingly, I have informed Andrea that I’ve already selected my 65th birthday present–

A LOST WORLDS better-than-new late-WWII sheepskin/goatskin ANJ-4 Flight Jacket… about 1/100th the price of an entry-level restomod sports car.

I can still dream, can’t I?

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