When new factory shells of Classic Mustangs and Camaros began production a couple of years ago, many thought that it would hurt the collectible car world; either by diluting the market with too many vehicles or by deceiving buyers into thinking they were getting an authentic classic car instead of a clone. Predictions were that everyone would race out and convert standard Mustang coupes into the more desirable fastback (as one example) and prices would plummet. But that really never happened. In fact, clones of certain ultra-rare muscle cars, like the 1971 Barracuda convertible with a Hemi engine (only 11 were made) are fetching six figures. Turns out “authenticity” only goes so far. For most people a knock-off is more than acceptable.
Another aspect of muscle car collecting that has gained momentum are “resto-mods.” Resto-mods are restored but they are also modified or modernized. From the outside, a good resto-mod looks like a faithfully restored muscle car. Inside, though, it might have better seats or three-point safety belts not available on the original or other modern parts that make the car more enjoyable to drive and safer than it would have been with “correct” parts.
The pictures that accompany this article are of a 1968 Mecury Cougar XR-7 with a 390 engine that is a good example of what a tastfully done resto-mod car can look like. While the style and spirit of the original are retained, the paint interior and sound system really give it a mean look. (In a good way) For the record, I am solidly in the category of people who is pro-clone and modified muscle cars. I have an appreciation for the originals, but most people recognize that these cars were manufactured with many flaws. The old, “Great in a straight line, just don’t try to turn too fast, or stop too suddenly” thing. So if you want 4 wheel disc brakes and an upgraded sound system and interior in your GTO? Why not. It’s all a matter of taste, of course, and there are many cars (some even featured on this site) that make me want to throw up. But that’s part of the fun of owning a car that is uniquely to one’s own taste.
Whether it’s a “real” car or not, doesn’t matter. Besides, how many people are going to ask you for proof that your Bullitt Mustang is original. Most will just watch you drive by in envy; never knowing the difference.