Classics Rock: 15 New "Vintage" Cars That Won't Break the Bank
The market for vintage car re-creations is hot, and it’s about to get even hotter
If you're inspired to put a new-age vintage car in your garage, there are plenty of options—likely far more than you know. So what are these new-build continuation cars and re-creation models all about? We got a closer look at 15 of the market's top offerings, including some behind-the-wheel time:
Superformance CS GT40 Mk II — Continuation Car
This car: $168,740
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II: $6,000,000
How close is a Superformance GT40 to the real thing? Superformance says that 70 percent of the parts that make up its car's rolling chassis are interchangeable with those on an original GT40, right down to the steel-roofed monocoque. It's also officially licensed by the registered owners of the GT40 trademark, meaning that for all intents and purposes, this is the real deal—a new, 2016 Ford GT40 instead of an unofficial replica.
It sure looks the part. With a menacing black and silver livery and a wild collection of scoops, intakes, and ducts on the front, sides, and rear, this Carroll Shelby Mk II edition is designed to look just like the car that gave Ford the first of its three GT40 Le Mans victories in 1966.
There's a very specific order in which to enter a car just 40 inches tall that was built to win Le Mans in the '60s. Step 1: Sit on the doorsill. Step 2: Swing your right leg inside, then follow with your left. Step 3: Scoot your butt down into the driver's seat. Step 4: Duck your head before pulling the lightweight door closed, lest it shave your scalp as it shuts.
Once you get settled inside, you realize that the low roofline also means the seating position is very reclined. Even then, the so-called Gurney bubble in the top of the door/roof is needed to accommodate helmeted drivers of its namesake's tall stature. It's actually relatively comfortable, even though your legs are kinked to the left to reach the offset pedals. Fire up the Ford Windsor V-8-based Roush 427, mere inches from your head and separated by only a thin bit of plexiglass, and the GT40 comes alive. It all looks and sounds intimidating, and it does take some getting used to. The shift lever is spindly, and the action a little longer than the delicate wand would suggest. In true racing spirit, first gear is in a dogleg configuration, to the left and down. The gates are narrow, but the lever slots in with little fuss. Power brakes slow the car easily.
Visibility is the biggest difficulty in driving the Superformance GT40 in an urban environment. Not only do you sit incredibly low—eye level with SUV tires—but visibility to the rear three-quarters is fairly limited by the car's mid-engine design and sleek bodywork. After all, the GT40 wasn't built for urban lane changes; what's behind you didn't matter much on the racetrack. Get on the gas, and buckets of torque are available from low rpm along with the sound of refined American power—this engine is a velvet sledgehammer. Still, you're always aware that twin 10-gallon fuel tanks sit to either side, as was common in race-car construction of the day. Couple that with 550 horsepower and zero concessions to stability or traction control, and you have a car that absolutely demands all of your attention. As it should. —Rory Jurnecka
Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX9000 — Continuation Car
This car: $164,960
1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe: $22,000,000
When music-producer-turned-convicted-felon Phil Spector bought the original Daytona Coupe prototype back in the late '60s, it had aftermarket upholstery and other niceties to make it halfway decent on the commute to his Southern California studio. Today's Shelby Daytona Coupes come standard with a full interior, power windows, and strong air-conditioning, a huge benefit even in cooler climes due to the prodigious heat from the front-mounted, Roush-built 7.0-liter Ford Windsor engine.
But don't think you're being coddled entirely. There's no mistaking you're piloting a car authentic in most ways that count to the tube-framed beast that won Le Mans in 1966. Your body kinks slightly to the left to reach the offset steering wheel and pedals, pedal effort is significantly heavier than in your daily-driver C6 Corvette, and when you fire up the Daytona Coupe, those side pipes blat out a lumpy idle just a couple feet from your eardrums. It's enough to make you want to sprint to the car for a Le Mans-style start in the grocery-store parking lot.
On the road, the Daytona Coupe proves easy enough to manage. Steering is light around town but gains some weight at speed. The view out the front is terrific, with the huge central hood bulge and lovely blue fenders framing the road ahead. Floor the pedal in first gear, and you'd better be ready for some slight steering correction as even the massive Avon rear tires can't quite keep the 427's 550 hp and 535 lb-ft of torque headed straight ahead. Bang the six-speed's bent lever down into second and the show starts again, with the 427 whipping itself from a bark into a hardened frenzy as the redline approaches. Just want to cruise? Get on the highway and put the Daytona into sixth gear, and it'll happily hum along all day. The ride is surprisingly good for a car of this type, and there's plenty of luggage space for two people on a weekend road trip.
Believe it or not, a Daytona Coupe might be one of your more exciting and more practical options. —Rory Jurnecka
Superformance Mk III 427 S/C — Replica
This car: $68,950
1966 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C: $1,800,000
Who wouldn't want a first pressing of The Beatles' White Album or authentic Christian Louboutin shoes or one of the only Shelby Cobras in existence? There are ways to experience them rather authentically, even if you aren't wealthy. The Superformance Mk III is one way to gain entrée into a chic classic-car club on a relatively reasonable budget.
The original Shelby Cobra was an amalgamation of an AC Ace roadster with a Ford V-8 engine shoehorned into the front of the car by gasoline-swilling chicken farmer, race-car driver, and master pitchman Carroll Shelby. Superformance's Shelby-licensed Cobra continues the original's recipe by slotting a massive Ford Performance Coyote 5.0-liter V-8 engine—producing a racket akin to an unholy union between a 1950s dump truck and a Le Mans-winning race car—into the tiny body, which is now rendered in fiberglass rather than the real deal's aluminum. And unlike the original Tojeiro tube-frame chassis with its awkward seating position, the Mk III's jig-welded ladder frame allows for even the tallest individuals to drive in comfort.
The Superformance's ride quality is reminiscent of the first-generation Lexus LS 400, compliant in terms of damping but also in touch with the tarmac when driving through fast, winding stretches of road. There's body roll, but far less than you'll find in Mazda's latest MX-5 Miata, for example, and its creamy smooth, five-speed Tremec TKO 600 manual transmission lets you row your own gears precisely.
Though the Mk III obviously isn't identical to the Cobras driven in anger in the '60s, Superformance's attention to detail and the performance it delivers with each car makes you not care. These cars have their own appeal, with modern creature comforts such as air-conditioning and a working stereo system. Granted, we'd be satisfied with just the engine's soundtrack.
With the Superformance Mk III, customers get the timeless good looks of the original Shelby Cobra, a blistering 435-hp powerplant, and enchanting handling without a price tag resembling Greece's debt. Other than the original, what more could you want? —Jonathon Klein
Morgan Roadster '65 — Original
This car: $135,000 (est)
1965 Morgan Plus 4: $30,600
The Morgan Roadster '65 is the latest in a long line of Morgan sports cars cheerily enough still made by hand in the little town of Malvern, England, as Morgans have been for decades. In other words, this isn't a replica, it's part of ongoing production. The Roadster '65 remains faithful to the Plus 4 series of cars, with its steel ladder frame and a body that still incorporates ash wood and aluminum. It's enough to make you want to dust off your cap and string-back driving gloves and get down to business.
Modernity is creeping slowly into the cabin. The switchgear is contemporary, and the gauges are lifted from the latest Ford Mustang, which makes sense when you find out Ford's 3.7-liter V-6 sits underhood. Fire up the Roadster '65, and its custom intake and exhaust systems mean the V-6 sounds positively manic compared to the 'Stang. It rips, snorts, pops, and bangs its way down the road. With little more than 2,000 pounds for the engine to move, the Morgan feels even quicker than the factory estimates, elegant and brutish at the same time.
Its slightly jouncey ride is amplified in part by the live axle setup out back. Long, direct throws from the Ford-sourced Tremec six-speed are positive, though the clutch take-up is a bit heavy. That's in contrast to the very thin wood steering wheel and light steering effort. The view over the hood is classic, with a narrow hoodline, broad, curving fenders, and vertically perched headlights. It's all very engaging, very British motor car in approach.
This is a car that's custom made for fast runs in those magic moments before rush hour hits, with the heater on, tonneau half closed. To own a Morgan is to belong to an underground club, to thumb a nose at society, but with a rose pinned to your lapel. The Roadster '65 is a car you could drive every day, as long as you don't mind cargo space that's limited to a simple parcel shelf behind the seats and an overall feeling of vulnerability in traffic-heavy cities. And though a new Morgan costs significantly more than one built 50-odd years ago, there's something to be said for the decades of refinement the Roadster '65 embodies. —Rory Jurnecka
Superformance Corvette Grand Sport — Replica
This car: $174,995
Original car: $7,000,000 (est)
Zora Arkus-Duntov was concerned with what Ford and Shelby had in store for road racing. After all, General Motors in the early '60s tasked the father of the performance Corvette to come up with a lightweight, agile, and powerful combatant that could race and win at Le Mans and other endurance events. The Corvette Grand Sport was the solution.
Driven by names such as Jim Hall, Dick Thompson, and Roger Penske, the five Grand Sport prototypes proved competitive. Plans existed for a small run of cars, but GM leadership mothballed the program and ordered the existing examples destroyed. Thankfully, all five were saved; today they are arguably the most coveted Corvettes ever produced. Chevy revived the nameplate in 1996, the last year of the C4-series Corvette, and it continues on new Corvettes as well.
Superformance's Grand Sport is licensed by General Motors and built from blueprints of original race cars that ran in 1963. The Grand Sport has the same stance, look, and brutishness Arkus-Duntov and his team of engineers imparted in those first five cars, but with some modern touches, such as the engine. Though the original 377-cubic-inch V-8 was a monster, you can spec Superformance's Grand Sport from a range of GM Performance Parts crate engines, including the emissions-compliant E-Rod 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 (as found in the last-gen Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro SS). The version we drove had a bad-boy 427-cubic-inch LS7 tuned by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering.
Hit the gas in the Lingenfelter-engined car, and the rear end squats like a powerlifter preparing to dead-lift 500 pounds. Hang onto the steering wheel and the ball on the Tremec T-56 Magnum six-speed and pray something doesn't cross your path in the empty quarter-mile stretch of highway on which you've chosen to unleash its 592 hp. The engine growls through the Grand Sport's dual side exhausts, and the noise almost frightens you as the revs climb to the 7,000-rpm limit.
Thinking about ordering a Grand Sport? You'll find it hard to resist all the tasty options such as an external oil cooler, magnesium wheels, those melodious side pipes, air-conditioning, and power windows. Still, it'll cost you far, far less than hunting down one of the five originals. —Jonathon Klein
Caterham Seven 360 — Original
This car: $69,040
1957 Lotus Seven: $20,800
The Caterham Seven's design is rooted in Lotus founder and Seven creator Colin Chapman's philosophy of producing cars with low weight and simplicity—a concept that hasn't changed materially since the car made its debut in 1957. Chapman designed the Seven to provide a truly exhilarating experience whether on the racetrack or a quiet public street.
The Seven 360's architecture (or lack thereof) trades safety for a commanding view of the road. So much as think about the minimalistic Momo steering wheel and the car changes direction savagely, but the steering features hefty weight that in combination with sticky tires offers excellent overall feedback. The clutch and shifter are taut, and there's a learning curve to both. When you do get everything sorted, the experience is phenomenal.
A 2.0-liter Ford Duratec four-cylinder engine produces just 180 hp, minuscule by today's standards but plenty of power for a car that weighs just 1,179 pounds. The Seven's 4.8-second 0-60 mph time is fast enough to blitz many an unsuspecting challenger, and it only abandons its drag- racing efforts at the 130 mph top speed.
There's a sense of heightened danger in the Seven 360, as in some ways it's similar to riding a motorcycle—but that's part of the appeal, of course. The car's openness gives the driver a refreshing environment from which to push the limits. The road's surface is so close, you sometimes feel the insatiable need to reach out and touch it.
With its lightweight chassis and fairly simple drivetrain, the Seven 360 is a throwback. Interestingly, you'll spend significantly more to buy a 2016 Caterham Seven than your average original Lotus Seven, but given the newer car's performance credentials rival modern supercars, there's certainly a case to be made for the upcharge. Think of the Caterham as a race car, but with turn signal indicators and a license plate. —Jonathon Klein
Pur Sang's Ultimate Continuation Type 35B — Replica
Base price: $200,000
"There are no real prewar Bugattis," says John Bothwell, commercial director of Pur Sang Automotive of Argentina. "Everything has been rebodied, been through multiple replacement motors, and has had restorations that replace every nut and bolt. Nothing is original."
We'll leave it to Bothwell and others to argue about what's real or not about prewar Bugattis, but one thing's for sure: The privileged few who spend millions on them aren't exactly driving them hard—or driving them at all, for that matter. That's where the Pur Sang Type 35B comes in. It's a car that looks and feels as if it just rolled off the Molsheim, France, factory floor under the direction of Ettore Bugatti himself. And with a price tag that's just a fraction of those "originals," it's a car you won't actually be afraid to drive.
Its overall aesthetic is mesmerizing. Every single part of this aluminum bathtub on wheels is built or forged on site at Pur Sang's facilities in Argentina. The company takes great pains to ensure the car's design and production methods mimic those of the originals built in 1927.
The Type 35-B is powered by a 2.3-liter supercharged inline-eight coupled to a four-speed dog 'box, with the shift lever located outside of the car. Get on the throttle and it produces a mechanical symphony akin to a pissed-off World War II-era Spitfire—loud, brash, and threatening deafness to anyone in a four-block radius. It requires a tremendous amount of strength to actually turn the car. Tougher still—yet entertaining—is all the countersteering you must perform given how little traction there is from the vintage, motorcycle-sized Coker tires.
Although its brakes stop the featherlight, 1,650-pound car on a dime, the pedal requires superhuman pressure before they do so. Additionally, there's no heat shielding to protect your left leg from the hot, exposed transmission, and there are no seat belts.
After a couple of hours wrestling with the massive steering wheel, you get a true appreciation of how unbelievably skilled race-car drivers of the era were. You'd have to be a certified lunatic—or a total badass—to drive a car like this at race pace.
Special men like Louis Chiron were surely a mixture of both, and cars like Pur Sang's stunning re-creation offer a window into the world of Chiron and those like him, who regularly risked it all to race. —Jonathon Klein
Beck GTS — Replica
Base price: $85,000
In the world of Porsche replicas, Chuck Beck is already something of a legend, having built many of the most compelling re-creations of 356 and 550 Spyder models in existence. With the market growing crowded for those models, Beck turned his attention to the legendary 904 GTS, and we're glad he did. With a fiberglass body like the original and a stainless-steel tubular chassis, the Beck GTS weighs in at roughly 1,700 pounds and utilizes more modern—and more powerful—Porsche flat-six engines. Beck estimates a 0-60 mph time of just 3.6 seconds for the 275-hp, 3.2-liter, flat-six-powered version. We're in lust. —RJ
Jaguar XKSS — Continuation Car
Base price: $1,500,000 (est)
Jaguar is no stranger to continuation-series cars. The storied English marque recently built six brand-new "1963" Lightweight E-type race cars to complete its goal of building 18 of them. (Only 12 were built in-period.) Even with an asking price of $1.5 million, the cars sold out almost immediately. Now, Jaguar turns its attention to what was essentially its roadgoing D-type race car: the XKSS. After Jaguar built 16 examples in the mid-'50s, the final nine XKSS models were destroyed in a factory fire in 1957. Jaguar is building nine new XKSS cars to original specification, with the first scheduled for delivery in 2017. Somewhere, former XKSS owner Steve McQueen is smiling. —RJ
Vintage Speedsters' Vintage Speedster — Replica
Base price: $27,000
When's the last time you found an affordable Porsche 356 Speedster for sale? The early '80s? Then it's no surprise that, since 1988, this company has built more than 3,000 Vintage Speedster models, and options for customization range from mild to wild. The fiberglass-bodied cars are built off the original Volkswagen Beetle chassis and often feature air-cooled VW engines modified for more horsepower. We'd wager that a Vintage Speedster gives you a large percentage of the original's appeal at a very small percentage of the price. Just don't try to sneak in to any Porsche club events. —RJ
Revology Cars 2+2 and Convertible — Replica
Base price: $154,615
Looking for a classic Ford Mustang with modern mechanicals? Then Revology has the pony for you. Similar to what Icon does for classic Toyota FJ models (see our July 2016 issue), Revology starts with original or Ford-licensed reproduction Mustang bodies, fits them to a modern chassis, and adds the latest suspension, brakes, and steering. A range of engines are available, including Ford's Coyote V-8 as found in the new Mustang GT. Manual and automatic transmissions are on offer, along with fastback or convertible body styles. Want something a little sportier? Shelby-licensed GT350 and GT500 versions are also available. —RJ
Scarbo Performance SVF1 — Replica
Base price: $112,800
To some, Ferrari's F312 is regarded as the most beautiful Formula 1 machine ever, with a melodious 3.3-liter V-12 that produced 300 horsepower. But unless you have a Scrooge McDuck bank account balance, chances are you're never going to experience its raw intensity. Scarbo Performance builds a replica of the car, however, that will knock your socks off. The SVF1 uses a 430-hp, 6.2-liter Chevy V-8 coupled to a five-speed transaxle transmission. No fancy sequential here. It's the closest thing you'll get to living in F1's most dangerous age. —JK
DeLorean DMC-12 — Continuation Car
Base price: $100,000 (est)
Flux capacitors, Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and power-lacing Nikes come to mind as a DeLorean DMC-12 rolls by. Its famous role as Marty and Doc's time machine in "Back to the Future" made DeLorean a household name even after the company's tumultuously short life and scandal-ridden death. Yet, the present owners of DeLorean Motor Company want to bring the car back and plan to offer new DeLoreans with emissions-legal engines and appointments that will fit within the guidelines of the small-volume act. Initial production is slated for 2017. —JK
Factory Five '33 Hot Rod — Replica
Base price: $19,990 (without engine)
The '33 Ford is America's quintessential hot rod, a staple at every car show from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine. However, given that original '33s are more than eight decades old, they're becoming quite rare, and those survivors aren't cars you'd want to drive every day. To satiate hot rodders, Factory Five has an almost complete '33 Ford for just less than $20,000. All you have to do is drop in an engine of your choosing, cozy up to your best gal, and cruise to the local drive-in. —JK
Lister Bell STR — Replica
Base price: $39,559
The original Lancia Stratos was nimble, fast, and outrageous-looking. Combined with its impressive ability to top the world's rally stages, it's a dream car that transcends generations. Original examples have joined the classic-car boom and fetch roughly $500,000, making them unobtainable to anyone outside the 1 percent. Thankfully, Lister Bell is providing die-hard Stratos fans with an alternative. There's no 2.4-liter Ferrari Dino V-6 for the neo-Stratos, but Alfa Romeo's 2.5-liter "Busso" V-6 is about as good a substitute as you can get. —JK