Motor (Australia)

Scott Newman

YOU GET ICONIC LOOKS WITH MODERN TECH, INCREASED POWER, UP-TO-DATE HANDLING AND GREATER RELIABILIT­Y

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UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN LIVING under a rock in recent years, you’ll be aware of the Singer 911. The brainchild of Englishman Rob Dickinson – cousin of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce and a renowned musical artist himself – the Los Angeles-based company has made a name for itself making some of the world’s finest resto-mod Porsche 911s.

Singer certainly wasn’t the first business to have the idea of bringing a classic car forward a few decades while keeping its aesthetic charm, but it’s emblematic of a movement that’s gaining in popularity. Alfaholics GTA, Eagle E-Type, Callum 25, Twisted Defender, Cyan Racing P1800, Canepa 959C, Automobili Amos Delta are just a few of the old-school outside/new-school inside machines that have appeared in the past couple of years. Alex Affat has covered off some of the finest earlier in this very issue.

It’s not difficult to see why. You have the iconic looks but with modern technology, increased power and performanc­e, up-todate handling and greater reliabilit­y to boot. It’s piquing the interest of quite a few high-end car collectors that are either chasing something different or are becoming weary of the latest supercars that have ever-higher horsepower and price tags and ever-shrinking accelerati­on figures and decibel readings.

The question is what’s next? There are certain cars that lend themselves to the resto-mod treatment – 911, E-Type, Defender, Mini – but the job today is to identify the next bunch. Of course, with enough time and money and intent you could apply modern magic to any car, a Lada Riva or a Hyundai Excel, but in an effort to keep this halfway sensible we want to identify vehicles that might be commercial­ly successful. The next Singer 911, if you will.

There are a number of criteria that must be addressed. First, the car has to be old enough to have substantia­l room for improvemen­t. Second, it has to be iconic enough that fans of the model will be lining up to pay big bucks for the ‘ultimate’ version. After much thought and no little consultati­on with colleagues here are my top three potential resto-mods. As ever, write in with your own choices!

But before I start, a quick word on some (in my opinion) ‘bad’ examples. A couple of people suggested the Pagoda SL, but while you could certainly create one with a modern drivetrain and exquisite materials, you’d be likely left with a car that’s very similar to the one you started with. Similarly, you could take a Ferrari F40 and build it properly with the latest carbon and variable geometry turbos and the like, but in doing so you’d rob it of so much of what made it special in the first place.

First on the list is the Range Rover Classic. Not the most MOTOR choice perhaps, but modern electrics, air suspension, perhaps JLR’s 5.0-litre supercharg­ed V8 under the bonnet and the finest leather and carpet will have punters lining up. And if you don’t think people will pay big money, keep in mind Range Rover’s official restoratio­n program starts at £135,000 just to rebuild it to standard!

Second: Datsun 240Z. Japanese tuning company Rocky Auto has already kicked this off, creating custom Z cars with a 225kW naturally aspirated RB30 engine, to which we’d add a close-ratio six-speed manual, recreate the interior design and perhaps seam-weld the bodyshell rather than bolting in a roll cage like Rocky Auto has done.

Next, the Peugeot 205 GTI. Would people pay $100,000 or more for a 205 GTI? I think they would. With modern dampers for increased precision but improved ride comfort, carefully tuned to keep the lively handling character of the original, a robust interior, screaming 8000rpm 1.6-litre atmo engine and rustproof body, it could be the ‘everyman’s’ Singer.

So there we have it, get cracking resto-mod companies, just don’t forget my commission in the process! Wait, what about the Ford Escort Mk1/2, and the Chevrolet C2 Corvette, and the Audi Ur quattro, and the Ferrari 308...

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