Rant: “Resto-mods”

I know I’m not alone in feeling that the worst thing you can do to an otherwise clean classic car is to throw modern large diameter chrome wheels and tires on it. Seeing metal flake and pearl paint jobs, 2-tone vinyl and striping, LED anything just ruins it for me. Not that I am a total purist – modern parts have their place and tasteful execution is not impossible – but mixing themes is a recipe for disaster for almost any example.

I can cite countless examples of originality vs. “creativity” where value is drastically reduced even when build quality is phenomenal and style is at the height of the current trend. I have heard the collective wince of entire communities when a longtime project is revealed with ruined proportions and a thoroughly bastardized heritage. Defying all logic, this problem extends even to the realm of the rare and exotic where taste is usually a prerequisite for ownership.

Not to say that I don’t appreciate a driver’s car; far from it! I have no qualm with museum pieces and the automobile as art on display, but cars were built to be driven to be enjoyed properly. Replacing old drums with a disc conversion is perfectly understandable from a performance and safety viewpoint. In tire technology, function dictates form and the standards have changed over the decades. Lighting that was considered adequate in 1964 has been surpassed in output by even parking or signal lights in some cases. But the line can still be drawn bold and straight between enhancing the driving experience and ruining the original beauty of a true classic.

Here’s an example of a restoration gone wrong:

The project isn’t even finished and we can already see what is wrong with this picture. The blindingly obvious flaw here is the stance. Giant wheels, modern flat lip, lots of polished steel or chrome, and ridiculously low-profile tires to complete the look. I have seen less cheesy blue metal flake in my cousin’s entire Hot Wheels collection than on this car. It looks like it would be more at home in some iteration of Need for Speed from the last-gen consoles than cruising around Sonic looking for underage sliz like it will be in real life.  Perhaps Midnight Club: DUB Edition?

Here’s an example of modernization on a similar car, but done right:

Modern wheels and tires that fill up the wheel well with rubber instead of chrome. Lots of function under the hood instead of a spiderweb of steel braided hose covers and lego-colored fittings. Subdued paint that highlights the bodylines instead of hiding them behind glitter and gloss like a cheap hooker out of Chip Foose’s wet dream.

So why would anyone even bother buying and building a classic car if they were going to ruin its value, aesthetic and monetary? It comes down to the same factors that influence anyone who has a project car. Taste, Time and Money. If you are lacking in any of these, you will end up with something like the Electric Blue Abortion above. There are a lot of companies out there making reproduction and period-correct performance parts for all kinds of classics. Manufacturers that produced original parts back in the time when the intended applications were new are still around, still making the same products with the same tools using the same processes. If you have the Taste to seek them out, the Time to wait for the parts to be made or found, and the Money required to cover their purchase, you won’t be the only one appreciating the finished product.

Fuck resto-mods. Fuck Chip Foose.

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