Mustang Muscle

Cars and Parts in Australia

15 May

The Restomod – A modern take for old muscle cars.

Many auto enthusiasts love the looks of muscle cars from the 1960s and early 1970s, but detest the handling and braking these vehicles deliver.

In some cases, owners overcome these shortcomings by upgrading the brakes and suspension. But some enthusiasts want to go even further by building a restomod vehicle — upgrading virtually all of the systems in the car while retaining a stock-looking exterior.

Once a car has undergone the restomod transformation, the vehicle retains its cool original look, but can be driven anywhere in today’s traffic.

Joey Steckler of Joey’s Place autobody shop in Edmonton brings a display of collector and race vehicles to the Edmonton Motorshow every year. He’s noticed the trend towards restomod, culminating in eight of the 22 vehicles in his display this year falling into that category. The restomods far outnumber the three restored to original collector cars in his display.

A restomod 1966 Mustang Convertible converted by a The Restomod Shop in California, currently for sale for $70,000 U.S.

A restomod 1966 Mustang Convertible converted by a The Restomod Shop in California, currently for sale for $70,000 U.S.

The restomod trend allows owners to “drive a 1960s or ’70s car while having all the conveniences of modern vehicles. It’s the best of both worlds.”

The restomods in Steckler’s display include a 1970 Chevelle SS and a 1971 Chevelle SS. While the exteriors of the cars look original, the chassis have been extensively modified. The engines have been replaced with mammoth big blocks that weren’t available when these cars were built. The 1970 is equipped with a 572-cubic-inch V8 engine, while the 1971 has a 502.

In addition, the transmissions have been changed and the suspension and brakes replaced with aftermarket components.

“Both customers are men in their early 50s who knew exactly what they wanted in a car,” Steckler said. “Both were building a car they wanted 30 years ago. Both wanted the original look, but way better performance and drivability.”

“I’ve always admired the 1970-71 Chevelles,” said Brian Stewart, owner of the 1971 SS. “When I decided to build a restomod, the Chevelle was a perfect choice. I purchased a documented ’71 Chevelle SS in 2005 with the plan to totally restore the car.”

The Chevelle’s original engine had already been replaced with the 502 crate engine producing 575 horsepower. Stewart decided to replace the Turbo 400 automatic transmission with a Tremec five-speed manual gearbox.

“In both cars, only the frame is stock,” Steckler said. “Otherwise, we used Global West and Hotchkis components for Corvette-style suspension.”

Stewart said his car has 10-inch Wilwood disc brakes front and back and 17-inch Vintique wheels.

“I have very few miles on the car since the restoration, but the times I have driven the car, it handles great,” Stewart said. “My plans for the car are to have it solely for Sunday driving.”

The other Chevelle SS is equipped with a 572-cubic-inch crate engine that churns out 675 horsepower. This car has a four-speed automatic transmission, rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes.

In some cases, car owners go even further in building a restomod. A 1969 Camaro in Steckler’s shop has changes similar to the Chevelles, but the front subframe was replaced with an aftermarket unit.

Among the restomods in Joey’s display is a 1972 Dodge Challenger. While it retains a stock appearance, this car has also undergone extensive mechanical changes.

Steckler said mechanical changes included removing the big K member for the front suspension and the drum brakes.

“We upgraded the engine to almost 500 horsepower, put in a five-speed transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering and aftermarket wheels and tires. The interior has an upgraded sound system and satellite radio.”

A restored 1970 Challenger convertible in Steckler’s display serves as a cautionary tale about buying collector cars sight unseen. Purchased on eBay, the Challenger — equipped with a Hemi engine and four-speed transmission — shows how problems can be covered up at sale time.

After buying the car, the owner noticed a problem with a rusted driver’s door post. Closer inspection revealed that the car needed the firewall, floor, doors, rear quarter panels and fenders replaced. Since some of the panels are not reproduced, two parts cars had to be purchased to provide the firewall and floor sections.

Steckler will present the owner with the keys to this rebuilt car at the show.

In addition to the restored and restomod vehicles, Joey’s display will include some modified late model vehicles and a selection of race cars and trucks.

The modified vehicles include a 2004 Porsche 996 and a two-door 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe.

The grey Tahoe has a slick and stealthy look. Equipped with twin turbochargers and twin intercoolers, this SUV produced eye-popping numbers on a chassis dyno — 1,400 horsepower at the wheels. The complete drive train was extensively modified to accommodate that power.

Steckler said the plan with the Tahoe was to build a vehicle that could run 10s at the racetrack, then be driven home afterwards.

The Porsche is highly modified to boost the horsepower to 700 from roughly 450. To accompany this horsepower increase, the car has been equipped with an upgraded clutch, bigger six-piston disc brakes, Bilstein suspension, bigger exhaust, one-of-a-kind rims and performance racing slick tires.

The race vehicles include a big-rig drag-race truck and a pickup set up for desert-style racing.

The pickup is a Class A off-road race truck designed to run at 140 miles an hour in the rough conditions of the desert. It’s equipped with a 660-horsepower V8 engine and a five-speed sequential transmission. The suspension has 28 inches of travel to deal with the big bumps in the desert.

The truck, equipped with on-board satellite communication and navigation, has a replacement cost of $300,000.

The race cars include Ken Reich’s Comp Eliminator Cavalier, Trevor Lebsack’s Tenacity funny car, Steckler’s 1969 Corvette nostalgia drag car, Rob Atchison’s Monte Carlo alcohol funny car and the 1933 Willys coupe campaigned for years by Brent Harris. The Willys has been in the display before, but now has an updated flame paint scheme.

Atchison is a three-time IHRA World Champion in alcohol funny car.

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