Restoration: Original vs. Modified

Often when I talk about my project car, people often ask me if I’m going to restore it to factory; sometimes people do strongly suggest that I go back to original as possible. But from my perspective and actually owning the car, I wouldn’t be satisfied with the factory stock format of the car. It’s one of those rare options just happened to not be the top of the line options. A '71 Super Bee with a 383 Magnum, 3 speed trans, 3.23:1 open diff, originally gold paint, bench seat. Not all of that is what I actually want out of my car, and with the intention of keeping it I feel more justified doing the mods I have in mind for it.

However on the Muscle Car market, originality is king, the cars that fetch the big dollars aren’t the well done restomods; but the cars that someone had kept in a garage for 40 years and hasn’t even changed so much as a spark plug. These cars even with rust damage can fetch nearly $100,000 with rust damage if they have the right options.

I understand the demand, it’s about having something rare. And I can appreciate the dedication that it takes to restore a car to concourse perfect. But for me it’s not about what I can pull from my car when it’s finished, for me it’s about having a car that suits me and my wants and needs.

So… What about you? What are your thoughts?

Consider this hypothetical situation, you’ve got your chance to purchase your dream car as a project car. The kicker is that it’s not optioned out exactly how you picture the fully realized dream. What would YOU do in this scenario?

Would you buy the car anyway and restore it as close to factory as you could get? Would you make it a restomod? Or would you go all out and do a full custom build? Or would you pass it up?

If your car isn’t an odd factory color or have some rare options, do what you want with it, but maybe be only do things that can easily be swapped back to stock in case you change your mind later in life or find out the car is somehow rare. You never know what you find out about your car down the road.

I can relate with you because I had to go through this same process with my 68 Camaro. The main reason for buying the car originally was it was a RS model (hideaway headlights), factory 4 speed and had a solid body. The original plan was to pull the small block out and put a 396 or 427 big block in it. Well that went out the window when I figured out that one, my drivetrain was original to the car and two, its 1 of roughly 14 cars. So that changed plans to doing a fairly stock resto on the car. the changes made are small and easy to swap back to stock. The only big change I made was in the color, I didn’t want a red with black vinyl top car like what my trim tag showed so I painted it another 68 Camaro color I liked.

Do you plan to sell the car? Are you making it a show car? If not, I’m not sure I’d go 100% factory. I don’t consider cars good investments.

I have a 1966 Mustang that I bought while I was in high school. That was 37 years ago. A lot of work has been done over the years but it is mostly how it came from the factory. I’ve started doing what I think will be the last major work on the car. I do plan to keep it near factory but I will be doing a few modifications. I will be putting disc brakes on the front. I will be replacing the master brake cylinder with a dual cylinder model. There are also a couple of other minor modifications I’ll be making mostly for safety and drivability. My objective is to have a car that looks original but drives better. I’m not interested in selling it or taking it to shows. I just want people that see it to think “That is one nice looking Mustang.” This is not an investment. It is just my car.

Well, personally I’d build it up a little. Of course, I’m into cars that are old enough where an engine swap is almost required if one wants to drive at 70mph for an extended period of time. . .

My advice is: Just do what you want with it. It’s your car, not anyone elses. Though, if you do find out that it’s rare, it would be a good idea to keep the original parts around incase you decide to sell it.