Restos and Resto-Mods

Resto-Mods are in. Of the 1,850 vehicles consigned to the recent 2019 Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, just over 700 were resto-mods, an all-time high. To define, resto-mods are vehicles that have been treated to an artful and functional blend of restoration and modification (thus, the term “resto-mod”).

So what’s behind this trend? Well, simply put, it’s been nearly forty years since Dodge stopped using drum brakes, carburetors, bias-ply tires, leaf springs and AM radios in new passenger cars. In those years, an entire generation of Dodge enthusiasts have grown up and entered the hobby. These folks are accustomed to the convenience of four-wheel disc brakes, electronic fuel injection, massive, sticky radial tires, independent front and rear suspension, and killer sound systems.

Today, it’s no surprise that older cars that have been rebuilt to incorporate a blend of semi-stock external appearance and modern running gear are attracting the big bucks, sometimes leaving concourse-correct restorations in the rearview mirror. And it’s not just Dodge vehicles. In the world of that two-seat fiberglass sports car from General Motors, we saw several well-executed resto-mods hammer “sold” for a quarter-million bucks! That’s over twice the typical selling price of a correctly restored, award-winning, numbers-matching “fuelie”, “split window” or “big block”!

So we now have to wonder, will dealers and hot rod shops hoping to attract maximum dollars at auction soon begin cutting into clean original 383 Challenger R/Ts, 440 Magnum Charger R/Ts, 340 Dart Swingers and Super Bees to transform them into resto-mods?

This writer is something of a purist and suggests that any current Dodge resto-mod project be based on a Slant Six or small block core vehicle. Then again, as supplies of these garden variety Dodge vehicles are about dried up, will resto-mod builders be left with no choice other than to slice into muscle Dodge vehicles of the past? Time will tell. For now, let’s take a look at some Dodge highlights from the event. –Steve Magnante

 

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