“Original” — Restored

Over the last few years there has been a lot of discussion, opinions and automotive editorials about what constitutes an original, restored, or RESTOMOD classic or muscle car. In reviewing the automotive articles and editorials, what has become clear is that there is no consensus within the classic and muscle car enthusiast community regarding whether it is better to have an original, restored or RESTOMOD car. Many factors go into making a determination regarding what route to take, including the rarity of the car as well as the tastes and preferences of each individual. In the past, restoring a classic to its original appearance and drivability was the best way to maintain a car’s value. However, more recent experience suggests that a quality RESTOMOD can reach or exceed the value of a car restored to its original condition. The best choice on restoration can only be made by owners,who are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each option. What’s right for you? At Major’s, we can provide you with the information needed to help you make this personal choice.

A customer once told us that he owned a 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT (with a 390 CI engine)which he wanted to keep in “original” condition. The car had never been in an accident, was stored in a garage in Arizona, still had its original (untouched) paint and interior and was mechanically the same as when it drove off the showroom floor. He was not interested in restoring the car to how it looked when new because he liked the patina that reflected is nearly 50 years of age. There is an entire school of thought that you should not change a single bolt, mechanically alter, remove rust, or perform any paint or interior work. Any part that fails should only be replaced exactly as was done in the factory, without changing its exterior appearance. If the engine needs to be overhauled, only the internal workings are repaired (with factory parts if available), but the worn exterior look of the engine block, manifold and other drivetrain components are not to be altered. These cars are frequently called “survivors” and as long as they are safe and the owner is comfortable with potentially suspect mechanical conditions, this is an option for keeping the vehicle in an aged, but original condition.

A second group of enthusiasts seek to restore the exterior and interior looks of the car to what it was on the showroom floor when new. While there is some overlap with enthusiasts who want to maintain their car in “original” condition, those interested in a restored car desire that their vehicle look and drive as it did when it left the factory, with no modern performance or technological upgrades

  • Street Driving Restoration: Within the group of enthusiasts who seek traditional restoration are two broad categories. On one end are the enthusiasts who want their car to look new factory correct, but desire to use their car as either as daily driver or weekend cruiser. These vehicles are maintained in good mechanical condition. Mechanical repairs have been made to bring the car back to the driving characteristics that it exhibited when it was originally used as a daily driver. In these partial restorations, if the engine and drivetrain operate effectively there is no need to make any internal changes. Most traditional hobbyists fall in this category. For most enthusiasts in this group, having matching numbers is not as important as having a factory correct part. A partial street restoration is an ideal choice for people who want to routinely drive their vehicle and are not interested in participating in automobile shows.

  • Concourse Restoration: Another group of enthusiasts are those who seek to restore their car to an “as new” condition. These vehicles are usually totally dismantled and every part is cleaned, rebuilt, repainted and or replaced with a new factory correct part. For this group, having date-coded, number-matching parts throughout the car is coveted. This type of car will be totally rebuilt with new-old-stock (NOS) parts. These cars are totally hand-built by restoration craftsmen and, when finished, the quality of the car far exceeds what would have been possible from an assembly line production. These cars can be true works of art but are rarely driven and are usually transported to car shows or become museum pieces. Because these types of restorations can easily cost upwards of $100,000, they are most often performed on rare muscle cars such as early model Shelby Mustangs, SS Chevelles, Z-28 Camaros, the 426 CI Hemi powered Plymouth Superbird and other similar vehicles.

What level of restoration is best? That depends on your desires, preferences and budget. Sometimes the decision is made on the basis of an investment, and other times the decision might be most heavily influenced by having an heirloom car. At Major’s, we can help you think through what’s best choice for you.

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