Most automakers love to talk about how their new vehicles are the modern embodiment of the iterations that came before them, but they typically have little in common besides their looks. In reality, the true reincarnations of iconic cars from the past often are made by small companies, rather than OEMs.
These small-volume manufacturers usually are started by enthusiasts with a simple goal: make cars that are almost identical to ones they fell in love with when they were younger, but have modern mechanical underpinnings. The formula results in vehicles that appeal to both purists and lovers of modern cars.
Many automakers, such as Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, have classic car departments that can help customers return their car’s to factory specification, but that means you still have the drawbacks of outdated technology. However, cars with things such as ventilated disc brakes and fuel injectors look like the ones that rolled out of the factories, but have better performance and reliability.
By using this formula, these six small-volume manufacturers are successfully recreating the past.
David Brown Automotive: Mini Remastered
Photo via David Brown Automotive
To its credit, the modern BMW-made Mini Cooper does a very good job of staying faithful to the original Mini’s styling. That said, it still can’t hold a candle to the handmade Mini Remastered, which is almost an exact copy of the pre-BMW Mini.
Singer Vehicle Design: 964 Porsche 911
Photo via Singer Vehicle Design
The people who started Singer, like many Porsche fans, think the air-cooled 911s were the best generations of the rear-engine Porsche. So their company will make you their idea of what the ultimate air-cooled 911 is. All you need to do is bring them a 964 chassis — which was made from 1989 to 1994 — and they fit it with everything from carbon fiber bodywork, to a full roll cage.
Kreisel Electric: EVEX 910e
Photo via Kreisel
This might look like a 1960s Porsche race car, but what’s under the skin would have been considered alien during that time. Made by Kreisel — which recently turned Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mercedes G-Class into an electric vehicle — the 910e mates a 483-horsepower electric motor to a replica Porsche 910 chassis built by EVEX.
Caterham Cars: Seven
Photo via Flickr/Caterham Cars
Most people probably know the Caterham uses the Seven’s design as the basis for some of the best lightweight track-day cars around, but many might not know it wasn’t originally a Caterham. The Seven actually was designed by Colin Chapman and sold by Lotus until the early 1970s, at which point Caterham purchased the rights to make the car.
Superformance: MkII GT40
Photo via Superformance
The 2005 Ford GT looked similar to the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning MkII GT40, but was larger. By contrast, Superformance’s version essentially is a carbon copy of the original; so much so, in fact, Ford allows Superformance to brand it as a GT40.
Classic Recreations: Shelby G.T.500CR 900S
Photo via Classic Recreations
Forget the current Shelby GT350R, this is the best Mustang you can by — albeit for $229,000. The Shelby G.T.500CR 900S looks like a meticulously restored “Eleanor” and, thanks to a bespoke 790-horsepower engine, can leave Dodge Hellcats in its rearview mirror.
Thumbnail photo via Singer Vehicle Design