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The Pros & Cons of Modifying Your Classic Car or Truck

modern-classicThere is no denying that owning a classic car or truck is a special bond between man and machine. The question is “Where do two go from here”? Should you keep the vehicle as original as possible as many classic purists would lead you to believe is the only reasonable option? Or, should you modify the car to create a one of a kind prized possession that has all the features and styling options you’ve always dreamed about? The answer is up to you…

There are pros and cons to each side of the argument. Here are some of the good and bad points to consider when modifying a classic car or truck.

Building a Clone

Not everyone can find or afford the super rare and coveted classic cars or elusive upgrade options that came with them, but there is an alternative. Build one! For example, if you are yearning for a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, but don’t want to shell out upwards of $100,000 or more for one in good condition, then start with a base model Camaro and buy aftermarket reproduction parts.

There are plenty of companies out there that produce reproduction SS hoods, brand new 427 V-8s and extremely sturdy 4-speed manual transmissions. Know ahead of time that you will get what you pay for, but in almost every case you will be able to build the car you want with reproduction parts for less money than you would buying an original in “like-new” condition.

These reproduction clones can be so convincing that even experts can be fooled into believing it is an original. With that in mind, if you are in the market for a classic car be sure that you request all original documentation on the car and make sure all the numbers match. If the vehicle is completely original, the engine number and transmission number will match the last six digits of the car’s VIN.

One of the best things about owning a cloned classic is that you don’t have to be so reluctant about driving it around for fun. Since it isn’t exactly an original, high priced rarity that loses value with every mile added to the odometer, you can actually drive it around and enjoy it!

Life in the Fast Lane

Let’s face the facts. Automotive performance technologies of the past can’t hold a candle to the technology of today. Even simple upgrade modifications like a new exhaust system and modern wheels, tires and braking systems can significantly increase how your classic will accelerate, stop and handle in the curves.

Be aware though that these upgrade “mods” can become very expensive and addictive with the seemingly endless options out there. Electronic fuel injection, twin turbos, superchargers, racing suspensions can dramatically increase your horsepower and handling, but it can become a very expensive hobby very quick.

Don’t expect a big return on this type of investment either. It’s not like renovating a house with a modern kitchen and bathrooms. It is unlikely that you will be able to get your money back out if the vehicle should you decide to sell. Adding these pricey upgrades should be based on a personal desire for performance rather than an idea for financial gain.

Another factor you will want to consider before adding high performance parts is your local laws. Be sure you know what is and isn’t street legal in your state before buying anything. What is legal in Texas may not be in New York, so double check the legality before buying any aftermarket parts. You might also want to check with your insurance carrier before making modifications to ensure you are covered. If you are building a muscle car for the track make sure you are covered before you line up on the drag strip.

Despite some of the negative and risky considerations when upgrading your classic to modern performance standards, there is something quite satisfying knowing you doubled the horsepower and made it handle way better than it ever did when it was originally produced.

Make it Modern & Keep it Classic

Classic car owners obviously bought their vehicles for the incredible styling and the reminder of the thrilling days of yesteryear. Otherwise we would all just buy the latest and greatest muscle cars of today. Sure the 2015 Corvette Z06 is an incredible machine, but there is just something special about the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Corvettes that remind us of a simpler time.

Thanks to modern advances in technology we can merge the old with the new and have them both. Reliability, safety and comfort no longer have to be sacrificed in order to enjoy a car or truck from glory days.

Beyond performance mods there are also many modern day conveniences that classic car owners demand. Music systems are a very common modification for older vehicles. Your favorite tunes are no longer being played on AM radio. Today we use Bluetooth to stream our favorite playlists right from our mobile devices. There are even manufacturers that are creating modern stereos with the original looks so they blend right into dash without distorting the original look of your interior.

GPS navigation is also a handy upgrade to have if you are taking your ride out on the open road. Cruise control and air conditioning are also nice to have and were often left out of many older cars even though both technologies were available back in the day.

Computers are also finding their way into classic car modifications. From controlling fuel efficiency to monitoring tire pressure, there are now electronic devices that can be tied to just about every part of a vehicle. To the purist this is pure blasphemy, but to the modern day gear head it is just yet another advantage to get every ounce of performance and convenience out of their classic cars and trucks.

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