My Car Quest

May 25, 2024

Should Any Classic Car Be Turned Into A Restomod?

by Wallace Wyss –

We have come, dear friend to a fork in the road and don’t know which way to go …

Ever since I can remember there were restored classic cars and then restored collector cars (some mass produced, not so much deserving of the over-used word “classic”) and then there were hot rods, which involved different engines, wheels tires, sometimes lowering the roof, and on and on.

But now there’s a new genre called “Restomod”. The best of both worlds or a travesty of all that’s holy in the car world?

It means a car that’s restored, kinda, sorta, with gleaming paint and chrome, new designed upholstery, and different wheels and tires and probably if not just a different engine but maybe a new trans, and different suspension. The ultimate ones even have a newly built frame.

Chip Foose Jaguar E-Type

Virtually every panel of the E-type has been re-shaped but it’s very subtle.

Now the “purist” in me recoils at the mere thought of this. But, hey, I’m coming around. Why? Because I too yearn for some old car I liked way back when but secretly admit that I know I’d be dissatisfied with the engine, a trans with what, 3-speeds, the suspension, the brakes. All that’s left I would like is the looks. Say that Silver Cloud III convertible or ’64 T-bird convertible I lust after. Both are great in looks, but dogs in terms of acceleration, braking, shifting. Not ready for modern touring.

Now I can see where the car should be kept “pure” in two categories: at a concours, ones with rules like Pebble Beach and in vintage racing, where if you see a damn ’65 Cobra, it ought to be only equipped with what was there available from Shelby American in 1965 and not equipped with a bored out block, newer suspension, different wheels, wider than were offered, same for the tires, yadda yadda. Maybe the only area I would give an inch would be in safety mods.

Chip Foose Jaguar E-Type

Rules for Restomods?

But in restomods there are no rules. You build what the customer wants. Now I have another fear here, maybe it’s not a concern if there were lots of that model built, so taking one and making a restomod isn’t depleting the remaining stock that much. But when you come to say Ferrari 250GT Lussos, even one restomod is one too many. It’s going too far. They only made about 350 of them more or less. A Daytona I could see, they made over 1,200 but a Lusso? That’s too sacred.

There ought to be laws against customizing cars that they made only a few of, like the De Tomaso Mangusta (about 400 made). After all there’s laws protecting rare wildlife, right?

So I present in this prosecution (if you’re against restomods or reinventing a classic) the evidence of Chip Foose’s latest, a 1974 Jag XKE roadster. Now I gotta admit that the E-type was always one of my favorite cars, ever since I first saw one in 1961. And I don’t think he’s changed it that much, the hood scoop looks very Italian. The wheels, as you see in letters written to those who’ve published pictures, are too tall, (they were smaller diameter in his preliminary drawings). The nose is more Italian. I don’t have anything against Jag’s original taillights on the Series I but have to admit by ’74 those later taillights Jag fitted them with were ugly.

Chip Foose Jaguar E-Type

As far as mods, the interior of this car for an un-named customer has the gauges all moved to a central binnacle and gone are the rocker switches that replaced the aircraft style toggles in the Series I. The engine is what will horrify Jag purists, a 6.2 liter Chevy small block rated at 525 hp.

But the details are superfluous to this rant. I just want to know: are you guys going to get onboard this train with Foose as engineer, free of the constraints of those purists with those clipboards in hand ready to mark you off in points for say, brass plating your carburetor wing nut (as they threatened to do on my Ferrari V12).

Or are you gonna draw a line in the sand right now and say these restomodders be bad people? I don’t think we can do that with Chip. At the rate he’s progressing, pretty soon he’s going to own that town (Huntington Beach).

What say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is also a fine artist who will be exhibiting his art at Back to the Grind in Riverside, CA starting February 2020. For a preview of the art on display, and a list of art available write


Chip Foose Jaguar E-Type

All images compliments of Foose Design.

Should Any Classic Car Be Turned Into A Restomod?
Article Name
Should Any Classic Car Be Turned Into A Restomod?
There ought to be laws against customizing cars where only a few were made, like the De Tomaso Mangusta. But what about a restomod of a classic car where there were a few thousand made?


  1. Alfred Jensen says

    A beautiful custom car inspired by Jaguar!
    But, should not carry the badge of a Jaguar!

  2. Robert Feldman says

    Restomods are the latest version of what we have always had free access to build since the dawn of the automobile, Custom Cars! Chips rendition of the Jaguar XKE is drop dead gorgeous! Also, they were careful to start with a 1974 V-12 car, not the most valuable or collectable Jaguar. Just like if you wanted a 1962 Corvette restomod, a good place to start would be a 327/250 HP with a powerglide. Not a 327/360 HP fuel injected car! The clients that are commissioning these builds want to enjoy the good looks of a desirable older car with the reliability and performance of today. They don’t want to adjust point triggered distributors (nor do they know how!) and they don’t want to step on a brake pedal that operates four wheel drum brakes! Todays custom chassis with adjustable suspensions and power rack and pinion provide a much more satisfying experience regardless of how you use it. There will always be concours judging of collectable original cars. The restomod trend is coming on strong for people that want to use their cars!

  3. More times than not the cars being turned into restomods are good candidates to be scrapped and get a new life in this manor, often times being as or more costly to the owners than a straight forward restoration… while as a concours judge, I understand the desire to keep things stock, I can also appreciate the skill and artistry that goes into saving some of these cars. Owners who have decided to have them built want to enjoy vintage styling with modern reliability and comfort, seems to me that often times they should be applauded for there efforts… The car market like the world is changing rapidly and the number of qualified mechanics and shops are dwindling, so while this puts some folks on edge we should all be grateful that we still are getting to see people driving and reviving old cars…well that is my take anyway…

  4. Robb Northrup says

    Should restomods be acceptable? A qualified yes. It depends on the value and rarity of the car. What I’ve seen done to rare cars by so-called “specialists” has made me cry! And, what some people have done to an Apollo GT (one of 86 production cars, all hand built) to “personalize” it is sin.

    However, there are a lot of old ‘Vettes out there, not to mention certain Porsches , MGs, Triumphs, Alfas and others that were made in large numbers, that there are plenty out these being preserved as original. A restomod could be the ticket.

    The bottom line should be: Forget about your checkbook. If it’s rare, preserve it. If it’s one of thousands, then go for it!

    Robb Northrup

    PS: If you restomod a Pontiac Aztek so it looks like a Ferrari, great!
    President, Apollo Owners Registry

  5. wallace wyss says

    The thought occurred to me that Chip is doing a sample as it were of a “retro” design on a familiar car just to showcase his ability to do so, as some automakers are hip to the appeal of their older designs and are wont to include some old design cues in a new car. But on the other hand he announced this was for a private customer, not for him, and he has already served not only as a full time design center employee but later with his own shop, a fabricator for automakers who want a concept car built. He told me, last time I ran into him, that he doesn’t really like the fabricator role for automakers, finding it too restrictive compared to doing his own thing. He didn’t mention the problem which I imagine exists that sometimes automakers don’t want the public to know that they didn’t build the concept in house and there’s always the possibility that the show car will be yanked from its show schedule if there’s a change in management at the automaker and they decide to go in a new direction, as happened way back in the ’60s with a show car called the Pontiac Banshee.. Built but never shown. .

  6. Russ Baird says

    E Types are sacred ! Monkeying around with the long term future of them because you think you have a better idea, well there are people turning over in there graves ! Rightfully so! Do you wish to repaint Mona Lisa ???

  7. In the concept drawing, attached, to me the rear looks like a late ’50s Corvette and the front looks like a Ferrari Spider California.

  8. Everyone has their own version of what is right or wrong but if it is your vehicle then do what you want and do not let the opinion of others restrict you.
    A restomod is basically the same as a hot rod of the day, the owner cut, chopped and built his own creation that was different from the original because he wanted to go faster, turn quicker, stop faster, ride smoother etc.
    The end results were not always a work of art or a pleasure to behold, but again it belongs to them and beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder so we really have no right to stop them.
    If someone is of the opinion that a certain car should not be altered then perhaps they should purchase that vehicle and keep it original, which many people do, but it is not for someone else to say what another person can or cannot modify.
    This is what the car culture is about and modifications have always been a part of it.
    Cars are to be enjoyed and driven, how ever you choose to do that.


  9. I find it difficult to fathom how someone NOT financially vested in a car project can project the intellectualism of “what path towards restore, renew, refresh, will be articulated”. Only the owner/builder can exert influence towards accomplishing the project and to which creative end the car will be finalized. The articles premise to ‘resto-mod or not’ is always a conversation starter… but those with the $$ decide the ultimate fate of the car’s restoration.

  10. I’m in the process of doing a restomod for an E-type too. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved these cars. But I also knew that they were always in the shop! My restomod is not for shows, or for flipping…it’s just for me. I am not changing the exterior or interior in terms of appearance, because that was the look that I loved. However, I am changing the engine, trans, electrical and every other component so that the car will be updated to 2021 specs. I want to enjoy driving the most beautiful car I’ve ever seen.

  11. Rick
    Enjoy your modded car and drive the wheels off of it, as this is what these cars were meant for. Do the alterations that you feel you need to do and do not let anyone tell you different.
    Don’t forget to post pictures of it when you are done as there are still people who are drivers out there that would appreciate seeing what you have done.
    The flippers and trailer queen group may disapprove, but they are not drivers anyways so show what you have and enjoy it.

  12. I completely agree with Brian, your doing the car for yourself to enjoy, and that you should… guessing that your doing the restomod thing in a very respectful way to the original design based on what you have said… that said I hope the car brings you incredible amounts of enjoyment…

  13. wallace wyss says

    I see a couple around my neighborhood, I asked one guy if it’s stock, He said no it has a 351 Ford and Borg warner 4 speed. I feel that he is getting more driving time by changing it to an easier to fix engine, and let’s face it every day we live is another day towards dying, so we hafta get all the enjoyment out of a hobby car that we can.

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