Technological advancements have influenced many economic sectors and life spheres. The auto industry is not an exception. Futuristic concept designs, electric vehicle trends, and the application of the Internet of Things have revolutionized mobility. Yet, in the midst of these progressive changes, the question of classic cars’ future rises.
Modern techniques to make classic cars future-proof
The brainstorming process about classic cars’ future does not stay just on paper. It has already reached practical applications in different directions.
A typical classic car restoration consists of bringing the car back as close to its original state as possible. This implies finding original or reproduction replacement parts, without adding any new components.
As a result of technological developments, people can drive classic cars and yet feel as natural as driving a modern vehicle. This is when the restomods techniques come into place. These techniques are not so radical, in the sense that they do not fundamentally change the classic car. They just add modern features to it, such as:
- modifications of the fuel-engine
- modern transmissions
- new brakes
- infotainment systems
- power steering
- air conditioning
These upgrades improve classic car handling and add a modern touch without changing the antique essence of the vehicle. An increasing number of target buyers for classic cars consists of young generations. They respect the past and, at the same time, appreciate comfort and style. For a typical member of generation X, a classic car should not just stay in the garage looking stylish. They want to take it to the streets. Thus, seeking to drive their classic, they often go for restomods instead of typical restorations.
1984 Jaguar Series III XJ6
The XJ series has been among the most popular Jaguar cars throughout decades, ever since the first XJ in 1968 was produced. The luxury four-door XJ series celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, bringing back one of their most famous models: the 1984 Series III XJ6 in a new restomod version.
This version was commissioned by Nicko McBrain, the Iron Maiden drummer. And the new XJ6, indeed, does resemble a great heavy metal hit.
3500 man-hours resulted in significant exterior and interior changes to the classic car. The Jaguar Classic division refinished or replaced around 4000 parts in this remake. Some of the major changes consist of:
- Flared and re-profiled wheel arches
- Exclusive Mauve metallic paint
- Bullet-style side mirrors
- LED headlights
- The Alpine touchscreen infotainment system
- A 1,100-watt audio system
- Interior cabin in red leather
- Drum kit-inspired pedals
- Up-rated suspension
The “Greatest Hits” is the result of extraordinary work and definitely more than a simple restoration. It resembles a remix that blends the best of both past and present, also adding a futuristic twist in the composition.
For a classic car lover like Nicko McBrain, this is truly the car of his dreams. If you also have a similar classic car, you may want to consider adding some artistic features to it, going for a successful restomod.
1966 Revology Shelby GT350
Shelby Mustang was initially built by Shelby American as a high-performance vehicle. The American car manufacturer adapted the Ford Mustang platform to produce one of its better models – 1966 Shelby GT 350.
Considering the excellent performance of the GT350, Tom Scarpello, a former Ford employee, decided to recreate the model with modern comfort, power, and style. In 2014, he founded Revology Cars. The idea was to use technological innovation in order to combine the old and the new. The classic Shelby GT350 was be revitalized under a new look.
The modern changes boosted:
- Performance: the Ford GEN 3 5.0 L Ti-VCT “Coyote” DOHC V8 engine, rated at 460HP powers the manual transmission models. The engine for the automatic transmission models is Ford 5.0L Ti-VCT “Coyote” DOHC V8, rated at 435HP. There is also an opportunity to have electronically-controlled automatic transmission.
- Features: the new chassis has a “double-wishbone front with near-perfect suspension geometry and 3-link rear with torque arm and Panhard rod for lateral stability”, “keyless entry and push-button start with rolling code encryption enhance security”, LED lightening, Glasurit automotive paint.
- Craftsmanship: Leather and Alcantara Trim Packages, 100% wool carpeting, new steel panels.
You can order this model for $209,500. The updated and newly added elements have not taken away the notion of a classic car. This is why, despite its high value, this remake is considered successful.
Electrifying classic cars
Classic vehicles have special magic that enchants car enthusiasts into paying considerable amounts just to get those icons into their garage.
Nevertheless, as time passes by, it may get harder for the owners to drive their vintage beauties. Firstly, the performance will start to diminish. Secondly, the laws and regulations on CO2 emissions are getting stricter. At some point, old classic cars may not even be allowed on the streets.
Now, as a classic car lover, you would not want to keep that beauty in the garage. You are proud of it and you want to show it.
Nowadays, thanks to technology, you can do that. We’ve just covered restomods. And one special case of a restomod is the electrification of classic vehicles. Many consider it as a solution to the classic car ‘extinction’ problem.
An electric approach will positively affect the usability, reliability, and power of your favorite classic vehicle.
Successful classic EVs
Jaguar E-type Zero
In 2017, Jaguar Land Rover Classic introduced its electric remake version: the zero-emissions Jaguar E-type. The value proposition of this special classic line was the beauty of the classic with the eco approach.
It is based on the 1968 Series 1.5 Jaguar E-type Roadster. Enzo Ferrari considered it “the most beautiful car in the world”. The noiseless powertrain further reinforces its elegance and classic style.
Some of the innovations incorporated in this design are:
- All-electric lithium-ion powertrain
- A powerful electric motor that can accelerate up to 62mph in 5.5 seconds.
- LED lightening, modified touchscreen infotainment system
Tesla-powered 1968 Porsche 912
Following the trend of electrifying vintage cars, one of the greatest sports cars ever, Porsche 912 also went through an upgrade. Powered by the two brands, Tesla and Porsche, the synergy in this remake is undeniable.
Tesla provides the electric ingredient: the motor of the Tesla Model S P85. A rusty engine gets converted into a 550-horsepower electric monster. Tesla has also added the inverter, differential, and the throttle pedal. The battery comes from LG Chem, providing the car with 140 miles of range.
The whole process has been challenging, considering the small size of the Porsche 912, and yet, the result is very successful.
Assessing the modern restoration techniques
The success of a classic car remake is measured at least from a technical point of view. The situation is not so black and white when it comes to the vehicle’s sentimental value though. The whole car collection industry is carefully considering the challenges and opportunities that come with the new mobility trends.
Skeptical and more conservative collectors perceive electric classic cars as a sacrilege. According to them, the value of a classic vehicle has a lot to do with its engine. Replacing it with an electric motor will diminish the whole classic car concept. The newly built car can never be the same as before.
Moreover, there is a genuine concern about the loss of car restoration knowledge. University programs on car restoration are practically disappearing. And while the application of modern methods has increased, the traditional techniques will be obscured. The classic car collectors understand the new zero-CO2 emission legislation but are frequently asking for historic cars to be considered as exemption from this law.
In addition to sentimental concerns, there are also practical ones. Because of the high labor hours needed as well as the high costs of restoration, only a limited amount of cars can be restored using modern techniques. This will leave the other ones ‘neglected’.
The challenges can be seen from a more optimistic perspective as opportunities. Firstly, while there is some emotional attachment to the preservation of the original classic car, the issue of the survival of these cars will prevail. If they cannot become usable and practical, then they might not generate the same type of interest. Hence, restomods or classic EVs can be considered as opportunities to keep classic cars alive in the future.
Secondly, the price and demand concerns can be looked at through different lenses as well. On the one hand, the target market for classic cars consists of a wealthier part of society who can afford a bit higher prices. On the other hand, with technological progress, such restorations will become less expensive and more efficient, thus making classic cars more affordable in the future.
All in all, the transformation of the classic cars, driven by technological changes, is a gradual process that does not happen overnight. There are many challenges and issues to think about. Nevertheless, there are also plenty of opportunities that should be considered as they have the potential to bring progressive change in the whole industry. An exciting future awaits!