Resto Mod: re­stored and mod­i­fied to be bet­ter than new. What does that mean for clas­sic Fords? Let’s break it down.

Classic Ford - - CFTECH - Words Jamie Arkle

Resto Mod. It’s a term that you’ll prob­a­bly have heard from US auto shows and the odd stand­out, in­ter­net­melt­ing project (Singer and Ea­gle, we’re look­ing in your di­rec­tion…), but not one that’s been es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in the UK, at least un­til rel­a­tively re­cently. The in­creased un­der­stand­ing of Resto Mod as a phrase is in part down to a small group of ded­i­cated spe­cial­ists cre­at­ing exquisitely en­gi­neered, ut­terly be­spoke cars.

As you might ex­pect given its highly per­sonal, res­o­lutely be­spoke na­ture, com­ing up with a catch-all, con­crete def­i­ni­tion for Resto Mod is tricky, largely as it means some­thing dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing who you ask! We there­fore opted to chuck the ques­tion of def­i­ni­tion to Callum and Natha­nial Se­v­ior of Retropower, mainly as they’ve had more ex­pe­ri­ence of what makes a Resto Mod build than most.

“I get asked to ex­plain the con­cept fairly fre­quently,” says Callum, “and the clos­est I can come is that Resto Mod is the process of restor­ing a car in terms of con­di­tion but not re­turn­ing it to its orig­i­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion, in­stead re­build­ing it to re­flect the per­son­al­ity and taste of the owner. This then al­lows you to in­cor­po­rate tech­nolo­gies un­avail­able at the time the car was orig­i­nally man­u­fac­tured, and to tai­lor its char­ac­ter­is­tics to suit an in­di­vid­ual rather than di­lut­ing them to ap­peal to a mass mar­ket.”

There’s more to the con­cept of Resto Mod­i­fi­ca­tion than merely ded­i­cat­ing a greater span of time and at­ten­tion to the re­cip­i­ent how­ever, as Callum ex­plains:

“In that re­spect, it’s hard to sep­a­rate the ethos from sim­ply mod­i­fy­ing an old car, but for me the dis­tinc­tion is in the ex­e­cu­tion. A Resto Mod project should leave no stone un-turned in the bid to re­turn ev­ery com­po­nent to new con­di­tion — es­sen­tially cre­at­ing a new car at the end of the process. Also, the stan­dard of de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing should be as you’d ex­pect from the orig­i­nal man­u­fac­turer or bet­ter. The best way to ex­plain it in, for in­stance, the case of a clas­sic Ford would be to aim to pro­duce what Ford them­selves would cre­ate if com­mis­sioned to build a one-off retro look­ing car us­ing mod­ern tech­nolo­gies for a spe­cific in­di­vid­ual.”

Per­haps the best way of ar­riv­ing at a phys­i­cal def­i­ni­tion of a Resto Mod build is to take a closer look at one of the most sig­nif­i­cant builds Retropower has tack­led over the course of the last decade, the Gor­don Mur­ray Mk1 Es­cort. It’s a build that will doubt­less be fa­mil­iar to reg­u­lar read­ers, but it re­mains a case study-wor­thy ex­am­ple of a Resto Mod project.

It isn’t es­pe­cially hard to see why the con­cept of a Resto Mod build ap­peals to some­one like a Gor­don Mur­ray, an in­di­vid­ual who’s spent his pro­fes­sional ca­reer ob­sess­ing over de­tails to the ben­e­fit of the big­ger pic­ture. Put sim­ply, de­tails re­ally do mat­ter, and this re­mains the case re­gard­less of whether the mis­sion is to get a Brab­ham BT52 to the fin­ish line first or to build one of the UK’s finest fast road Es­corts.

More to come

You could make a strong case for the UK be­ing among the most fer­tile of breed­ing grounds for Resto Mod-flavoured projects. Let’s face it, as a com­mu­nity we’ve long had a keen col­lec­tive eye for the fun­da­men­tals of Resto Mod­i­fi­ca­tion; a com­mit­ment to en­gi­neer­ing a proper so­lu­tion to a given prob­lem, an inkling for the kind of less is more ap­proach to styling that typ­i­fies many of the stand­out Resto Mod cre­ations, and in re­cent years, an aver­sion to ill-suited wheels and overblown in­te­ri­ors.

Per­haps the most ex­cit­ing el­e­ment of this is that, in terms of its pres­ence in the UK, Resto Mod­i­fi­ca­tion is still in its in­fancy. All the tools are there for it to be­come an en­trenched as­pect of the clas­sic Ford scene, but a great deal of the story has yet to be con­ceived, much less writ­ten.

The in­side will re­tain its pe­riod charm, too — with the ad­di­tion of the Lo­tus dash. The ECU will be hid­den be­hind the par­cel shelf, and the brake and clutch fluid reser­voirs in the glove box. Un­der­neath, Dave has re­placed the tra­di­tional live axle and leaf springs with the MX-5’s wish­bone assem­bly built into a cus­tom frame.

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