The high end market for cars is booming with restomods, coach built specials, restorations, continuation models, and reimagined offerings. Some blur the lines combining the best of each approach but mostly they can fit into one of these categories.
Let’s attempt at distinguishing each!
Essentially what you’re doing here is taking an older car and rather than simply restoring it to its former glory, you’re also modifying it for performance or aesthetic reasons, hence the ‘resto modding’ moniker. This can be done really well but its also easy to get it so wrong as indeed anybody can ‘restmod’ their car often representing the low end of restomodding spectrum all the way to the other end with Alfaholics and Paul Stephens offering high end Alfa’s and Porsche’s respectively.
The maturity of the automobile, combined with the incredible recent velocity of change and a deep desire for authenticity has seen the start of a new type of regeneration: reimagined vehicles.
Reimagined vehicles update a much loved or lauded car in such a way it pays homage to the original but is considered new. It’s a take on what the vehicle would be like if it were recreated or reimagined today with many or most of the parts being completely new with obvious styling changes.
Increasingly we are seeing highly skilled highly trained artisans taking the idea to the next level such as Singer, David Brown, RUF, and Eagle. While previously mentioned Alfaholics and Paul Stephens services border reimagined and in some instances cross over, they don’t possess enough bespoke engineering to sit in this camp. Contentious, yes, but a distinction must be made!
Got a genuine love for the original, all the way down to the nuts and bolts? Restoration has been alive for a very long time but we are now seeing manufacturers increasingly offer services to restore cars to their former factory glory. BMW Classic, Porsche Classic, and even Mazda are getting in on the act. Land Rover have done a great job restoring this Series 1 edition while Porsche have shown their restoration might by building a completely new 911 Type 993 Turbo from genuine parts. Now McLaren have just announced they are offering restoration services. If you want total authenticity, send it back ‘home’.
Coach building is a very old practise of designing vehicles usually based on an existing chassis from a manufacturer. While this is not the norm anymore, it is still a service which design houses like Ital Design and Pininfarina practise in for wealthy clients.
If we take Singer as an example, it’s difficult to divide resto modding and coach building because they combine elements of both, hence the new category of ‘reimagined’ vehicles.
However, I’m going to differentiate modern day coach building as one off or extremely low volume commissioned pieces using new cars rather than modified and reworked classic or out of production cars.
Rolls Royce Sweptail
This is a fairly recent event where manufacturers build more numbers of an existing out of production car. Usually its a car which was a landmark for the company giving a fresh injection of interest into the brand, playing on the heritage. Money, and lots of it, is required although I’d wager, less than a coach built car.