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Restoration vs. Restomodding: Choosing the Right Approach for Your Classic Car

When it comes to classic car restoration, you may be faced with a dilemma: should you stay true to the original specifications of your classic car or embrace modern upgrades for enhanced performance and comfort? While both approaches share the goal of breathing new life into classic cars, they differ significantly in their philosophy, methodology, and outcomes.

In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between restoration and restomodding and help you choose the right approach for your classic car.

classic car restoration

Traditional Restoration

Traditional restoration brings a classic car back to its original factory condition, usually with a focus on preserving authenticity and historical accuracy. This approach to restoration focuses on using period-correct parts, materials, and techniques to recreate the car as it appeared when it rolled off the assembly line.

Philosophy: Classic cars are tangible links to the past, carrying with them stories, memories, and a sense of nostalgia.

Methodology: Traditional restoration can involve extensive research to ensure that every detail of the car aligns with its original specifications. This may include sourcing authentic parts, replicating original paint colors, and refurbishing the interior to match the look and feel of the original upholstery.

Outcome: The outcome of a traditional restoration is a classic car that closely resembles its factory-original state. These cars are prized for their historical significance, authenticity, and attention to detail, making them ideal for collectors and automotive purists. Classic cars that have been authentically restored can sell for sky-high prices at auctions, especially if they are rarer models. A 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $3.41 million at Barrett-Jackson’s February 2024 Scottsdale Auction.

1963 International Scout restoration

Embracing the Modern Era with Restomodding

Restomodding takes the principles of traditional restoration and adds modern technology, performance upgrades, and custom features. No importance is placed on preserving authenticity. Rather, restomods offer more suitability (and reliability) for daily driving.

The restomodding process is highly customizable; you can tailor your car to your specific tastes and preferences. Common options when restomodding include:

  • Engine Upgrades: Replacing the original engine with a modern power plant, such as a fuel-injected V8 or a high-performance crate engine, to boost horsepower, torque, and efficiency.

  • Suspension and Brakes: Upgrading the suspension, brakes, and steering components with modern systems to improve handling, stability, and stopping power.

  • Transmission Options: Swapping out the original transmission for a modern automatic or manual gearbox, or installing overdrive units for smoother shifting and improved fuel economy.

  • Interior Comfort and Technology: Adding modern amenities such as air conditioning, power windows, navigation systems, touchscreen displays, and premium sound systems to enhance comfort and convenience.


Since your preferences can vary wildly from someone else’s, restomods are often one-of-a-kind.

Philosophy: Restomodding embodies a forward-thinking approach to classic car restoration, reimagining the past to fit into the modern world. The goal is to blend classic aesthetics with modern technology and performance upgrades, creating a car that offers the best of both worlds: timeless style and contemporary amenities.

Methodology: Restomod customizations can range from upgrading mechanical systems to modifying interiors to include sophisticated audio and display systems.

Outcome: When restomodding your classic, you are left with a car that retains its old-world romantic charm while delivering enhanced performance, comfort, and drivability. These restomodded cars appeal to enthusiasts who appreciate the aesthetics of classic cars but desire the conveniences and capabilities of the modern era. The rise in restomod popularity is evident in auction results, most recently a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette custom convertible that sold at Barrett-Jackson’s February 2024 Scottsdale Auction for $1.1 million.

classic car restomods

Choosing the Right Approach for Your Classic Car

When deciding whether you should restore or restomod your classic car, consider the following factors:

  • Your Preferences: Do you value historical accuracy and authenticity, or are you more interested in modern performance and amenities?

  • Intended Use: Will you be driving the car regularly or primarily for special occasions?

  • Budget: Expenses can vary greatly depending on the condition of the original car and the extent of work required. Restomodding will typically require a higher budget due to the cost of modern upgrades and customizations.

  • Long-Term Goals: Restored classic cars are often regarded as collector’s items, whereas restomodded classics are often built for personal enjoyment and daily use.


Ultimately, your personal preferences, tastes, and vision for your classic car will play a significant role in determining the right approach for your restoration project.

Whether you prefer the timeless elegance of a faithfully restored classic car or the modern conveniences and performance enhancements of a restomod, Premier Classic Cars is here to bring your vision to life. With our expertise, craftsmanship, and dedication to excellence, we'll help you build a classic car that reflects your unique style and driving aspirations.

Contact us today to discuss your classic car restoration project and discover how we can turn your dreams into reality.

Click here to learn more about our restoration services.

Click here to learn more about our restomod services.

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