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