What is a restomod?

Brad Kline - July 20, 2020

Ask 10 people what a restomod is and you will probably get 10 different answers. A restomod by the direct definition of the word is a RESTOred and MODified vehicle. The extent of the restoration and modifications that have been performed are what is up for debate. Some people feel that any car that has been restored at all and modified at all is a restomod. That would mean a 1957 Bel Air that has had a repaint and an aftermarket set of wheels would be a restomod. Some people think that a car needs to have body modifications, drivetrain modifications, steering, suspension, brakes and interior modifications to be a restomod. Some say that unless you’ve installed a late model fuel injected engine, have modern car options like A/C, power seats, navigation and Bluetooth, 4-wheel power disc brakes and more, it is not a restomod. I personally take a middle of the road approach to the subject.

I don’t believe a set of wheels or a custom paint job alone makes a car a restomod. But, I also don’t feel that a car has to be a $100,000+ build where every component has to be updated to be a restomod.

Let’s say you have a 1969 Camaro with a modern LS2 V8 engine, 4L80 transmission, 4-wheel power disc brakes, aftermarket wheels and tires and a CD player. The body, paint job and interior are left basically stock in appearance. To many, this would not be a restomod because it does not look custom, aside from the wheels. But those changes listed above amount to a lot of work, a lot of money and have drastically changed the way the car starts, drives, shifts, stops, and its value in the market. It has also completely changed who would be interested in owning that vehicle. A Chevrolet muscle car purist will tell you that car is “ruined.” While someone else says you have done nothing but improve the car and increased its value. When the changes made to a vehicle drastically affect who would buy it and how much it is worth, I believe that makes it a restomod. A set of wheels alone doesn’t do that. Anyone can swap on stock wheels to bring the car back to correct. A custom paint job alone doesn’t do that. You can have a car repainted fairly easily and bring it back to stock. When multiple systems are changed it becomes much harder, more expensive and less likely that someone would buy a car and revert it back to its stock form. That, to me, makes it a restomod.




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