In a stroke of good luck, however, an increasing number of rare and valuable classics are being reproduced using brand new components and modern engineering methods to give the look, feel and enjoyment of an old car with the benefits of greater reliability, an easier drive and, in many cases, a far cheaper price tag than those carried by the “real thing.” But don’t fret, as these are not fakes or replicas, but superb “continuations” of the cars that inspired them. They’re so good, in fact, that many people are concluding that the “new old” is far better than “actual old.” While we see this trend popping up frequently, we’ve compiled five of the most interesting examples currently on the market.
There are few “Back to the Future” fans who haven’t hankered after owning a DeLorean DMC-12, the car on which Doc Brown based his remarkable time machine. Only recently, however, have DeLorean values begun to rise after years of stagnation around the $20,000 mark — where they remained largely because the car’s performance never really lived up to its looks. That is about to change, however, now that Englishman Stephen Wynne is setting out to revive production of the famous, stainless steel-bodied DeLorean DMC-12 from a factory in Humble, Texas. Wynne bought the entire inventory of DeLorean bodies and parts after the original, Belfast-based firm went bankrupt in 1983 and plans to commence delivery of 21st century DeLoreans later this year. The move follows a change in the U.S. law that allows manufacturers to produce 325 examples annually of a car originally made more than 25 years ago, provided it complies with current emissions standards. For Wynne, that means dumping the original, underpowered engine and replacing it with a new one pushing out more than 300 horsepower and giving a top speed of 150 mph plus. Around 300 cars could be built during the next five years. The price tag is $100,000.
Having recently completed a project to build six “continuation” lightweight E-type racecars, Jaguar is now getting to work on a small edition of the even more desirable XKSS, a 1950s road car once beloved of Hollywood star Steve McQueen; it’s based on a batch of leftover, obsolete D-type racers. Just 16 were built before a factory fire destroyed five and damaged four that were awaiting delivery. The four were disassembled so their surviving components could be reclaimed. Those chassis numbers will now be used to create nine brand new XKSSs, which will be hand-built from scratch by a team of 50 specialist engine builders, trimmers and coachbuilders using innovative, D-Type engine blocks based on an original found tucked away in a Jaguar dealership. In most respects, the completed cars will be identical to the 1950s original, although certain details — including sections of the braking system — will be upgraded for greater safety. The originacars are priced at $20 million; the “continuations will be priced at only $1.5 million.
Aston Martin DB4 GT
Aston Martin has delighted enthusiasts around the world with its recreation of the celebrated DB4 GT. The original car was launched in late 1959 as a more sporty, two-seat variant of the standard two-plus-two DB4. Shorter, lighter and sleeker, it featured faired-in headlamps and a tuned, triple-carburetor engine that endowed the GT with a top speed of more than 150 mph — making it Britain’s fastest passenger-carrying sports car of the day. Production lasted until 1963, by which time 75 examples had been built. A mere eight were lightweight versions intended for competition use. It is these that will be “continued” in a limited run of 25 newly built examples assembled at Aston Martin’s historic Newport Pagnell factory. The 21st-century DB4 GTs will remain true to the specifications of the 1960s models, but will be offered for circuit use only. Aston Martin Works has developed a two-year international track driving program, which includes instruction from Aston Martin Racing Works driver and multiple Le Mans-class winner Darren Turner. This latest version will be priced at approximately £1.5 million, while the price tag for the original ranges around £3 million-plus.
Land Rover Series I
The market for classic Land Rovers is red hot in the U.S. right now; not least since more than 100 were seized and destroyed in a swoop by Homeland Security after they were discovered to have been illegally imported. There will be no such worries with the results of a new project by Land Rover Classic, which is a rebuild of the highly collectible Series One model from the early 1950s. Each build starts with an original 50s vehicle, which is stripped of every single nut, bolt, rivet, and washer before being reassembled from the chassis up using either new- or old-stock genuine parts from Land Rover factory inventory, freshly made components or fully refurbished originals. The number to be built depends on the availability of donor vehicles, which are becoming increasingly scarce. Initially, however, Land Rover is offering everything from the rarest, 80-inch wheelbase models and long wheelbase station wagons to the more readily available 86-inch wheelbase variant. The price will range from $100,000 to $150,000.
Shelby Daytona Cobra
The late Carroll Shelby’s open, two-seat Shelby Cobra sports car is undoubtedly one of America’s great automotive icons. But perhaps even more legendary are the ultra-rare Cobra Daytona Coupes with which Shelby took on the might of manufacturers such as Ferrari, Jaguar and Aston Martin in the 1965 World Manufacturer’s GT Championship…where it won. It was the first and only time the championship has gone to a team of American-built cars, and original examples of the six, 190-mph coupes penned by the brilliant automotive designer Peter Brock rarely become available and are now hugely valuable. But, to mark the 50th anniversary of the championship win in 2015, Shelby American announced that it would create 50 continuation cars, some with fiberglass bodies and some made from aluminum. Each car is faithful to the original specification, right down to the exact measurements of the body, the original, tubular chassis, 35-gallon endurance racing fuel tanks, and Trigo competition wheels. Keep in mind that the price ($349,995 for aluminum; $179,995 for fiberglass) is for the rolling chassis and body only; engines must be purchased separately. But that price tag pales in comparison to the $15 million demanded for an original.