Replica cars are nothing new. Hot-rodders have been relying on new 1932 Ford body shells for years, and longtime readers may remember the Autokraft Cobra that was splashed on the cover of our second issue, in May 1986. But those are copies of exceedingly rare, expensive, and significant cars. A 1966 Ford Bronco is none of those things. And yet, starting later this year, the public will be able to assemble brand-new ones.
The Bronco is the latest model in a build-it-from-scratch frenzy kicked off largely by accident in 2004, when the first complete steel body shells for the 1967 to 1969 Chevrolet Camaro hit the market. Dynacorn, the company that produces most of the shells, expected to support restorers looking to rescue rusted-out hulks.
Instead, almost all the bodies have been used to construct completely new vehicles, be they continuation Shelby GT500s or something altogether different, like the RCR Series 3 Camaro, which we featured in our Driven section in April 2009.
Whatever you build, it won't be cheap. The new cars cost an average of $60,000. That includes about $15,000 for the body, plus an engine and all the smaller bits, from subframes to battery trays (almost all of which are also available new). Then, you have to obtain a title and license for a brand-new car that complies with no modern safety regulations and also lacks a VIN. You might save a bit of cash by putting it all together yourself, but be advised that these are hardly full-scale Revell model kits.
For all that cash, the resulting car will, at least, be as good as new. Better, actually. The new parts rarely come from original tooling, which automakers typically destroy after ten years. That gives today's engineers the opportunity to start over and fix issues that automakers either didn't know about or didn't care about at the time, such as structural rigidity and corrosion resistance.
So far, the craze is mainly limited to domestic cars, but that might change. BMW's restoration division, for instance, has demonstrated that it's possible to put together a new "vintage" 2002, but so far enthusiasts haven't been asking for them. Also, Jaguar has reportedly been considering reproducing complete E-types and other models.
Following the release of the Bronco, Dynacorn plans to produce complete shells for the 1970 through 1974 Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda.