My Car Quest

March 2, 2024

Restomod, Pro-Touring, Replica Or Something Completely Different

by Mike Gulett –

I suspect that, like me, many of you are attracted to the idea of creating a custom car that is suited to your own tastes and may run on modern mechanicals for a better and more reliable driving experience than the original or it may be a replica of a car that is too expensive to buy or it could be a continuation car made by the original manufacturer. Some may want to design and build their own custom car from scratch like Raffi Minasian.

We all know that original specification cars, either unrestored or restored to correct condition, are the best investment values, yet there is a desire for something that may not be a great ‘investment’.

However, we are seeing many restomod American classic cars (like Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs etc…) selling at auctions for the same or more than the same model restored to original specifications. This is an interesting trend that is likely to continue.

Wallace Wyss wrote about Retro Tribute Cars made by the factory (in this case Ferrari), which is happening more and more as people with a lot of money want the factory, like Ferrari or Aston Martin, to make them a special one-off modern car that may look like a retro style from the ’50s or ’60s.

There are also expensive alternatives for the Porsche 911 like Singer Vehicle Design which designs and produces “meticulously restored and optimized air-cooled 911”. These Porsche 911s are special and very expensive.

Singer Porsche

Singer Porsche – photo by Mike Gulett

Jaguar E-Type recreations can be bought from Eagle. They call them “‘zero mile’ restoration of an original E-Type”. And Jaguar is building nine new Jaguar XKSS continuation models which I suspect are all sold for quite a pretty penny.

Jaguar Eagle E-Type Speedster

Jaguar Eagle E-Type Speedster – photo by Mike Gulett

Most of us cannot go this very expensive route to create our own unique car. There are lower costs alternatives like Simpson Design which designs and hand-builds exotic automobiles combining the style and quality of vintage classics with reliability and mechanical peace of mind of modern sports car technology. Simpson Design typically uses the mechanicals and the chassis of a modern Mazda Miata combined with a retro style that will remind you of something from the past but is not an exact copy of anything.

Simpson Design Italia 3 GTZ

Simpson Design Italia 3 GTZ – photo from Simpson Design

There are a few options for replica Porsche 356 or 550 Spyders like Intermeccanica, which has been around since the late ’50s, Seduction Motorsports, Vintage Speedsters and Beck Speedster. I know there are more but these are the ones that come to mind.

Porsche Speedster

Don and Diane Meluzio’s 1957 Porsche Speedster – a real one

You can also create your own 1965 or 1966 Shelby GT350 Mustang replica (or a later model GT500) that will look like and perform just like a real Shelby Mustang for a fraction of the cost of the real article. This is greatly aided by the after market parts industry that makes everything needed to copy the original Shelbys. Or you can buy one of the many on the market that are for sale at any given time. There is always the popular “Elenor” a copy of a Shelby Mustang GT500 from the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds”.

Carroll Shelby and a 1966 Shelby GT350

Carroll Shelby and a real 1966 Shelby GT350

The AC Shelby Cobra is the most copied car of all time. There are many options for buying a replica of this icon for a fraction of the cost of an original AC Shelby Cobra (Superformance, Factory Five and Kirkham are a few of the options). A great alternative is the AC Cobra Mk IV which is a continuation model hand made in England in the ’80s and early ’90s using the same AC tooling that they used in the ’60s. It is branded an AC but is not an AC Shelby. I have one of these and it is a blast to drive and gets a lot of attention on the road for about 10% to 15% of the cost of the ’60s AC Shelby Cobra.

AC Cobra Mk IV

Mike Gulett’s AC Cobra Mk IV

Whatever your dream for your own unique car there is a way to get it made or find one for sale. Don’t give up the quest.

Let us know what you think in the Comments – what car would you want to create, or re-create?

Below are definitions that can be confusing because there is some overlap. Whether it is a restomod or a custom does not matter, however, there is an important distinction between a replica and a continuation car. It certainly is important if a car is an original rather than a replica or anything else.

When considering buying cars like a restomod, a replica or custom it is important to investigate who built the car, the build specifications and the quality of the build in addition to the other items like condition, rust etc…

Restomod definition from Wikipedia

Restored and modernized. Safety and convenience upgrades, such as disc brakes, AC, etc., but can include fuel injection and overdrive upgrades, etc. Externally might resemble a stock car with period correct mods rather than customs.

Pro-Touring definition provided by

A classic muscle car with enhanced suspension components, brake system, drive train and aesthetics, including many of the amenities of a new performance car; developed to function as well or to surpass the capabilities of the foremost modern performance vehicle. Pro-Touring cars are built with an emphasis on function and are intended to be driven. Whether they are driven on the street, the race track, the drag strip, or through cones at an auto-cross is of indifference; regardless of the location, pro-touring cars are destined to be driven.

Replica definition by Mike Gulett

A duplicate vehicle made with the intention of creating an exact copy, or very close to an exact copy, of the original.

Continuation definition by Mike Gulett

A vehicle made by, or authorized by, the original manufacturer that may be an exact copy or may have some small variations from the original.

Hot Rod definition from Wikipedia

Hot rods are typically old, classic American cars with large engines modified for linear speed.

Custom car definition from Wikipedia

A custom car is a passenger vehicle that has been substantially modified in either of the following two ways:

– a custom car may be altered to improve its performance, often by altering or replacing the engine and transmission

– a custom car may be a personal “styling” statement, making the car look unlike any car as delivered from the factory.

Examples of custom, restomod, hot rods and race cars

Raymond Loewy's Custom Jaguar XKE In 2012

Raymond Loewy’s Custom Jaguar XKE In 2012 – photo by Mike Gulett

Ferrari Drogo GoldenCar Navarro Special NART

Ferrari Drogo GoldenCar Navarro Special NART (custom Ferrari 330GT) – photo by Mike Gulett

Custom by Big Daddy Ed Roth

Custom by Big Daddy Ed Roth – photo by Mike Gulett

1957 Gatto - Ferrari Hot Rod

Ferrari powered Gatto custom by Steve Moal – photo by Mike Gulett

Hot Rod

Hot Rod – photo by Mike Gulett

Custom Car, George Barris

Bugaloos Buggy by George Barris

Strale Daytona 6000GT Prototype (Iso Daytona)

Strale Daytona 6000GT (built on an Iso Rivolta GT platform) – One-Off – photo by Mike Gulett

Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale – photo by Mike Gulett

A version of this article was first published in September 2017.
Restomod, Pro-Touring, Replica Or Something Completely Different
Article Name
Restomod, Pro-Touring, Replica Or Something Completely Different
Whatever your dream for your own unique car there is a way to get it made or find one for sale.


  1. wallace wyss says

    There’s a lot of mixed category examples here, but after observing many cars and their subsequent values I have some general conclusions:

    1.)replica cars rarely climb in value. One that does is the Safir GT40s which are faithful repros of GT40s, and I believe the aluminum bodied Cobras will at least not depreciate. I consider the last “real” Cobra the Mk.IV, which though Shelby disavowed them, have some recognition as A.C. cars.

    I think as long as the buyer of a replica/tribute car/etc. realizes that they are buying the car just to have fun, and not fooling themselves into thinking it will appreciate, that’s not living in a dream world. But if they were buying an original car and kept it original, it will be more of investment grade , even something so rudimentary as a Triumph TR-3.

  2. Raymond Zinn says

    Boy, has my admiration for Raymond Loewy gone down a notch.
    2012 (?) did someone dig that car up, as it should have been buried.
    I was and am a great admirer of Mr. Loewy and find it hard to believe that he would think that he could have, in any way, improve that cars “perfect” aesthetic design.
    I will reject any words to the contrary, LOL.

  3. Raymond Zinn says

    Ferrari Drogo GoldenCar Navarro Special NART (custom Ferrari 330GT)
    Was this supposed to have been a pick-up version of the 330t and then someone changed their mind?

  4. Friends, ever since I can remember, (back in the sevenths, as kids we bought cars because they were cool and we could modify them to go faster, look different and impress the girls! If you are buying cars for investment, then go to the smob auctions and make sure you get an investment, me I still buy cars to make them faster, better and impress the girls! This hobby was always about having fun! All of these cars were build to be driven, not stored away

  5. Glen Durmisevich says

    What I appreciate about all of these various vehicles is that people’s love affair with the automobile is still alive and visible. What bothers me is when they are customized with poor aesthetic quality or if they start with a rare and valuable original car. But I guess that makes the remaining ones even more rare and valuable.

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