26 June 2015

To Mod or not to Mod

Common Themes for Classic Car Modification

One of the best things about owning a classic car is the ability to take a piece of history and make an undeniable connection with the car by modifying it to your liking. Here are some of the most common paths taken when modifying a classic:

Cloning what’s desirable

  • Everyone respects a Yenko or Z/28 Camaro, but not everyone can afford the super rare or desirable options. A great way to combat this issue is to take a base model and build what you want.
  • There are many companies out there offering reproduction SS hoods, freshly built 427 V-8s and very capable 4-speed manual transmissions. While price often reflects quality when it comes to reproduction parts, you are still able to build the exact car you desire for less money than hunting down a rare COPO.
  • A warning here: because it is possible to create a very convincing clone, do your homework when you’re the market for a classic. Follow the paper; get documentation.
  • My absolute favorite feature of building a clone is drivability. This is not a statement on the mechanical ability, but a statement on low-stress driving. It isn’t an original, rare, high-dollar vehicle that loses lots of value should it ne3ed to be repaired, so go out and spin that odometer.

Speed is king

  • It is a dangerous and addictive path to take when you starting modifying a car for performance. Those who enter the tunnel of horsepower and handling rarely see the light at the end.  It often starts out innocently enough, with upgraded wheels and tires, a different exhaust system and bigger carburetor, but it often leads to twin turbochargingsupercharging and tubbing wheel wells.
  • If you are looking to make money by building a street rod, take heed. A build like this is typically very personal, and can drastically limit your audience. Unless you are getting paid decent labor rates to build a car, it is difficult to get your money out of a build like this.
  • Street legal is a question mark on a lot of the more aggressively built cars. What is legal in one state may not be legal in another. Be sure to know what will fly in your state before you buy a street machine.
  • With performance-modification concerns out of the way, there is a massive amount of gratification knowing you just doubled the horsepower from an engine or made your car handle better than ever designed.

Modern convenience with a classic look

  • There is no arguing that a classic car turns heads. The styling and build quality are very attractive features of classic cars. At the same time, the reliability and comfort of modern cars is equally appealing. Why not have the best of both worlds?
  • Music and driving go hand in hand, but your favorite tunes rarely live on an AM radio. Thankfully, technology has an answer for this as well. There are a number of companies out there making classically styled car stereos that can connect to your smart phone with blue tooth, and look right at home in the dash.
  • With the use of computers, we are able to do some incredible things. Adding electronic fuel injection to an engine designed more than 50 years ago can erase the question of “will it start,” and it may even increase your fuel efficacy.

6 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Eric Fountain Valley, Ca June 29, 2015 at 22:54
    It would great to have Hagerty start providing valuations for clones or I say 1 of 1. From a 136 vin, I built a 138 vin 1967 SS 396/375 Marina blue with bright blue convertible 4 speed. An original 67 SS convertible triple black 396/375 just sold for $110,000. It would be interesting to know the value of my 1 of 1.
  • 2
    Michael Cedarville Mi July 9, 2015 at 16:40
    I agree. Just dropped a crate 502 Ramjet, 5 speed trans, rack and pinion,hd rear end,etc, etc. into a 66 Vette. Probably will get old and die with the car but am curious as to value.
  • 3
    Doug PDX July 31, 2015 at 20:36
    It would be impossible for Hagerty to estimate values on customized cars, because every customized car is a unique collection of parts. In general, modifications reduce the value, sometimes considerably. There are counter examples though, usually due to the work being carried out by a respected marque expert.
  • 4
    Jon San Diego August 2, 2015 at 17:24
    Sorry, but not on board with this... there's nothing wrong with a base classic Camaro. I'm always more excited to see a really clean, original-spec classic car than one that was modified to be a fake of something rarer. I actually don't even bother looking at Cobras anymore unless it's at a major show where you can see a real one. Everyone and his mom has a replica.
  • 5
    Kevin St. Anthony August 25, 2015 at 22:14
    Base classic Camaros are boring. Drop in an LS3 and update the chassis. Contrast the values of base Camaros vs. tastefully modded cars and tell me the market doesn't agree.
  • 6
    Dean Marshall Clarkston, MI September 3, 2015 at 09:01
    I get just as excited riding in my neighbor's straight 6 powerglide 68 Camaro as I do my modified 1963 Nova. It's all good as long as you enjoy them, but I do snicker at people who bring their ZL1 1969 Camaro's to the local car show and claim it's real. I'm also bored with LS motors and air bags, but it's hard to argue with buckets of power and a nice ride for very reasonable $.

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