Home Cars 20 Replicas That are Better Than the Original

20 Replicas That are Better Than the Original

Vukasin Herbez August 25, 2017

In many cases, replicas are on the tragic part of the spectrum. And many of them often barely look like the cars they are supposed to replicate. No matter how much effort and money went into building it, those home-built kit replicas can’t come close to the quality of the original cars. In extreme cases, the performance isn’t adequate, as well, since most replica builds are often about the looks.

But replicas are a relatively inexpensive solution to driving what looks like a coveted car with roots deep in motorsports history. However, there are some companies so specialized in building replicas, they have managed to improve everything about the original vehicle. Endless enthusiasm and thoughtful engineering fuel these extreme builds. And the results are truly magnificent.

Although their work isn’t exactly a bargain, these replicas are usually more affordable than the originals. And they have a customer base of well-off car enthusiasts who care about driving these fantastic machines. So, which of those mythical replicas are better than their original and more expensive counterparts? Continue reading to learn about the top 20 replicas that are better than the originals.

1. Pur Sang: Bugatti T35

The Bugatti T35 is the most successful Grand Prix sports car that completely dominated the period between the two World Wars. And it is one of the most collectible classics coming from the factory. Incredibly, Bugatti prices have already gone up to seven-digit sums. So, the price tag makes them out of reach for most speed-loving enthusiasts. And adding the fact that there weren’t many of them doesn’t help either.

Even though there are many companies trying to replicate the Type 35, none have come nearly as close as the Pur Sang. It is an ex-Argentinean company now based in California. The Pur Sang version of a Bugatti T35 is a meticulous recreation of the original race car from Molsheim. Every part of this car is nearly identical to the original.

However, they have engineered it to provide a more intense, yet authentic driving experience. Powered by a 2.3-liter supercharged straight-eight engine, it produces 150 horsepower. The car weighs just 1,500 pounds, just like the original, too. So, it’s clear the T35 can give you a run for your money on those skinny tires.

Pur Sang also offers detailed replicas of those classic Alfa Romeos and other exclusive pre-war beauties. They guarantee the build quality, giving every owner the experience of driving a classic race car with the perks of modern engineering.

2. Lister Bell STR: Lancia Stratos

The Lancia Stratos was a groundbreaking car in many ways, starting from an otherworldly design by Marcello Gandini for Bertone. The Stratos was the first car in history they built purposefully for rallying. It was all about stellar performance on the most demanding terrains in the world. It came with a transversally mid-mounted Dino V6 engine they sourced from Ferrari with 190 horsepower in Stradale trim.

They built the Stratos in limited numbers, with just 492 models seeing the light of day. Although many car enthusiasts adore these cars, their price makes them unobtainable to most. And many companies and kit car builders have tried to recreate the Stratos. Most have succeeded to some degree, but the only company that made it better than the legendary original was Lister Bell.

In every aspect, their STR replica is a fantastic car. It uses a V6 engine they sourced from the Alfa Romeo 166 sedan. But, the STR-M is where Lister Bell truly leaves the competition in the dust. And this version comes with either a 3.0L or 3.2L V8 from Ferrari Mondial. For just around $65,000, the Lister Bell version of the Stratos can offer mind-blowing performance and improved driving dynamics.

Best yet, it still retains the original spirit of the famous wedge-shaped car that once dominated rallies around the world. Making a replica of such a revolutionary car was a demanding task. However, Lister Bell completed it in big style.

3. Beck 904: Porsche 904

As one of the first Porsche race cars they ever created was the homologation-special 904 or the Carrera GTS they built in exactly 119 pieces. Out of 119 in total, 105 were four-cylinders, two were six-cylinder engines and 12 were eight-cylinders. And today, these cars are worth more than $1,000,000.

They made them in extremely limited numbers, so their heritage and historic importance are practically immeasurable. But luckily, for around $65,000, you can have an improved version of the original Carrera GTS. Interestingly, Chuck Beck made his version of this legendary car 300 pounds heavier. That was mostly due to a 3.2L flat-six engine in a fiberglass body with a tubular chassis.

It also has a dual tubular front and independent rear suspension. With 250 HP under the hood, the Beck 904 easily outperforms the Carrera GTS. But it still offers the same feel of driving the original car. The increase in power and weight is followed by an increase in overall dimensions.

Also, the Beck 904 is three inches longer and wider than the original car. Although Beck’s version is not true to the original in proportions, the performance of this car is nothing short of sublime.

4. Beck 550 Spyder: Porsche 550

The Porsche 550 Spyder was more than just a thoroughbred race car for the street. It also gained notoriety as Hollywood actor, James Dean’s, death car. Today, that’s just another aspect of its collectability and a cause of its astronomic market prices. But even if there was never a James Dean’s No. 130 Little Bastard, the 550 Spyder would have been a highly sought-after car.

The popularity and simplicity caused many companies to start replicating the Porsche 550, including Chuck Beck. And he was one of the best-known makers of a nearly-perfect 550 Spyder replica. Loaded with options and with a more powerful engine, the Beck 550 Spyder usually costs around $40,000. It comes with two engine choices, a 125-horsepower 2.0L inline-four or the more desirable, yet more expensive 180 horsepower 2.2L.

However, the best part about the Beck 550 Spyder is that it offers more power and better handling. And yet it has the same raw feel as the Porsche 550 Spyder, a car that costs far more. In fact, the Spyder is practically unobtainable since most owners hide them safely away in private collections or in museums. So, to be a rebel without a cause like James Dean, the Beck 550 Spyder will help you stand out from the crowd.

5. Superformance GT40: Ford GT40

As the famous Ferrari-beating Le Mans-winning prototype car from the 1960s, the Ford GT40 is one of the most iconic and universally recognizable sports cars in the world. They produced the original GT40 in 105 models over four generations. And the owners used them in numerous race series worldwide. Ford based it on the Lola MK6, but they built the first three generations in the United Kingdom.

The legendary car designer, Carroll Shelby, was also involved in the development of this car Ford produced it from 1964 to 1969. The original GT40 won the Le Mans race four consecutive times. In 1966 it won with a 1-2-3 finish of the MKII GT40, in 1967 with the MKIV and in 1968 with the MKI chassis. Also, the GT40 had relatively simple mechanics, so it was not hard to replicate.

A rich racing heritage also made this vintage race car one of the most desirable cars to copy. But out of the many outstanding companies and private builders that made replicas of the GT40 is Superformance. And two-thirds of the parts in the Superformance GT40 are interchangeable with the original Ford GT40. Interested parties can order the replica in either MKI or MKII versions with a small block or big block V8 engine.

Interestingly, Superformance claims their replica is so authentic, it carries the GT40/P chassis numbers. That makes it eligible for the official GT40 registry. But the price of the Superformance GT40 starts at $125,000. Although that sounds like a lot, it’s still more affordable than the original GT40, which will cost you at least 10 times more.

6. Caterham Seven: Lotus Seven

Built between 1957 and 1973, the Lotus Seven was a quintessential enthusiast’s car. It offered sublime performance thanks to its clever engineering and lack of weight. Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, knew he could achieve the best performance by trimming as much weight as possible. And the Lotus Seven was the perfect embodiment of that way of thinking. It was a simple, lightweight roadster with only the essential parts.

This kept it going fast on the straights, and even faster through the corners. The car is still so popular, that the demand for similar replicas is present today. The masters of the Lotus Seven come from Caterham, a company founded in the eponymous town in 1973. And they hold the right to reproduce the original Lotus Seven.

With decades of experience under their belt, Caterham has been improving the Seven almost on a yearly basis. Also, there are many fantastic versions, most people don’t know where to start looking. Many Caterhams managed to outperform the original Lotus models, as well as many contemporary sports cars and supercars.

And they did that while following Colin Chapman’s “less weight, more power” logic. The beauty of the Caterhams is that all but the most extreme versions come as kits. So buyers can get them for less money by assembling and fine-tuning their cars themselves.

7. Kirkham Motorsports Cobra: AC Shelby Cobra

The original Shelby Cobra started as an English AC Ace model car with some raw American V8 power. In 1961, Carroll Shelby wrote to AC Cars in England to express his interest in a custom project. AC agreed but wanted a suitable engine under the hood. Chevrolet didn’t want to create an in-house competition for the Corvette, but Ford was interested. They provided Shelby with 3.6L Windsor V8, and that’s how the legend started.

Ford later produced the AC Cobra in three generations powered by a series of V8 engines: The 260 CID 4.3 liter and 289 CID 4.7-liter Ford-sourced V8s were the most common ones. But, the most extreme engine in the Cobra was the monstrous 427 CID 7 liter, 425 BHP V8, which was in the thoroughly redesigned MKIII Cobra 427.

Today, the original Cobras are extremely expensive collector cars. However, due to their basic layout, there are dozens of companies who make high-quality replicas of this legendary roadster. Out of many, the Kirkham Motorsports Cobra stands out. Kirkham Motorsports makes bodies and frames for Shelby American’s continuation series cars.

The bodyshells of Kirkham Motorsports Cobras are aluminum, and the suspension and brakes are modern. You can order the Kirkham Motorsports Cobra with a 289 or 427 engine. The prices start at $100,000 for the base models but can climb even higher with many of the extra options. They can include adding copper or bronze bodywork, and old-school brakes and suspensions for a more authentic and intense driving feel.

8. AS Motorsport ASM R1: Aston Martin DBR1

The Aston Martin DBR1 was a Le Mans race car built in five copies starting in 1956 when the change in racing regulations stopped requiring road-legal cars. Aston Martin won the 1959 Le Mans race with this car. Notable drivers included Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Carroll Shelby. Apart from winning the 1959 Le Mans, the 1957 DBR1/2 also scored victories at the 1957 1,000 km Nürburgring. It won the 1958 and 1959 Goodwood Tourist Trophies, among others, which makes it the winningest example of a race car.

The DBR1 isn’t an easy car to replicate due to its specific mechanics and low production numbers. But, AS Motorsport managed to create the AMS R1 the perfect DBR1 replica. For power, it can use Jaguar’s straight-six units, although there’s a costly option of Aston Martin power. The transmission options include Borg Warner, Tremec, ZF, Getrag Supra and Moss units.

Visually, the AS Motorsport ASM R1 is a perfect replica of the DBR1, but mechanically, there are some more improvements to enhance the driving experience. That’s why the R1 has Wilwood discs, a fully independent suspension, and rack and pinion steering. Also, the bodywork comes in either fiberglass or aluminum, depending on the requirements and the budget of the prospective buyer.

9. Proteus C-Type: Jaguar C-Type

Another legendary British sports car is the Jaguar C-Type, a car based on the proven Jaguar XK120. They built a total of 53 cars from 1951 to 1953 using a lightweight tubular frame with aluminum bodywork. Most of them went to American privateers. The XK120 3.4L engine produced around 205 horses. The car won at Le Mans in 1951 and 1953 when they tuned it to produce 220 horsepower.

Today, these cars cost millions, but luckily there’s Proteus, a company that makes fantastic replicas of this impressive 50’s race car. The Proteus C-Type has a 260 hp 4.2-liter straight-six engine from the Jaguar XJ, which is an improvement over the original car’s performance figures.

Its stopping power is ensured via Wilwood disc brakes and the transmission unit is a Tremec T-5. The Proteus C-Type costs around $180,000, which is 10 times less than the original cars. The Proteus C-Type provides all the excitement of the infamous top-tier early 50’s racing cars for less money, so it deserves to be on this list.

10. Intermeccanina Roadster “D”: Porsche 356

In this countdown is the Intermeccanina Roadster “D,” which is one of the most popular replicas ever. Because the original Porsche 356 has many similarities with the VW Beetle, replicating it is easy. All it needs is a fiberglass bodyshell attached to a shortened Beetle chassis and a few dials. Add a sporty steering wheel and a pair of sporty seats, and you’ve got a roadster.

However, the engine upgrades are optional, as well as appropriate wheels. But out of the many companies making 356 replicas, Italian-based Intermeccanina is one of the best. Their 356 Roadster “D” is the 1959 replica. And they also offer the 356-A “S” 1958 and 1955 Pre-A “S” replicas.

Unfortunately, these cars come with a hefty price tag since most replicas start from $49,600 for body shells without the engine and the transmission. That means customers have to source the preferred engine by themselves or pay more money for Intermeccanina to put an engine in the back. Still, the Intermeccanina 356 comes with a variety of engines, with the most extreme version being the modern 911 flat-six.

11. Factory 5 Racing: Type 65 Coupe

Many replica builders produce the regular Shelby Cobra. But, just one company is producing the gorgeous and legendary Shelby Daytona Coupe. And that is the legendary Factory 5 Racing company who successfully builds kits and turnkey cars at reasonable prices. So, the basis for their Type 65 Coupe model is a space frame chassis with some modifications to the original Shelby Daytona Coupe.

Better yet, you can choose the engine and rest of the drivetrain according to your preferences. Also, the Factory 5 engineers designed the cabin slightly bigger. That was to provide passengers with more comfort since the original Daytona Coupe was notoriously cramped.

12. California Custom Coach: Model 876

If you are looking for a classic roadster from the ’30s, but want more power and better driving dynamics, then the California Custom Coach Model 876 is for you. This is a perfect replica of the gorgeous Art-Deco Auburn Speedster, which is one of the most beautiful cars of the era.

The California Custom Coach makes those fantastic cars based on a Corvette chassis and with Chevrolet V8 engines. From the outside, the cars look almost identical to the classic Auburn. However, the dash is slightly different. The base engine is a standard small block V8 with 300 HP. However, you can equip your Model 876 with a supercharged LS9 engine to make this classic roadster fly.

13. Evanta Aston Martin: DB4 Zagato

What do you do when you have an Aston Martin DB7 from the late ’90s, but what you want is a classic DB4 Zagato from the mid-60s? That’s no problem because the Evanta company has the perfect solution. Evanta knows how rare and expensive DB4 Zagatos are, as well as how gorgeous they look. So, they decided to transform the common Aston Martin DB7 into a bespoke ’60s Gran Turismo coupe.

They kept the DB7’s chassis, drivetrain and suspension, as well as the interior. And they mounted them onto a perfectly replicated DB4 Zagato body. The result is an extremely usable replica that is as safe and fast as a modern-day Aston Martin. Yet, it still looks perfectly retro like the original DB4 Zagato.

14. Eagle Speedster: Jaguar E-Type

Eagle Speedster, a British company, first became famous for its superb Jaguar E-Type restorations. The experts at Eagle experts have restored and repaired almost any E-Type, no matter how much damage or rust these cars had. However, over the course of a few decades, Eagle management decided to move away from basic restorations. So, now they offer a new car based on the legendary Jaguar.

The result was the Eagle Speedster, a modern-day E-Type, but with a twist. From the outside, it is unmistakably a classic E-Type roadster. But underneath the hand-built body, there’s updated technology with all the benefits of modern materials and components. And although the Eagle Speedster is an expensive version of the E-Type, the production line is already sold out.

15. Broadley Automotive: T70 Mk II Spyder

In the heyday of prototype racing on the Le Mans circuit was a small company that became famous for its beautiful cars, as well as racing success. This company was Lola and their best model was the T70 Mk II Spyder.

While original cars are extremely expensive, you can buy a new one. It is made by the same people who made the originals. But, they have upgraded it with the latest specifications and modern finishes and details.

16. Norwood: 330 P4-575

Norwood’s P4 re-creation comes with 550 HP from the Ferrari V12 engine and a lightweight body. Also, they hand-build it to be perfectly accurate with a host of modern improvements. So, the 330 P4-575 is the closest you can get to owning a Le Mans classic Ferrari.

As you probably know, Ferrari built just six cars in the late ’60s, so each one is astronomically expensive. But the Norwood P4 starts at almost $400,000. So, it delivers the same level of excitement at just a fraction of the price.

17. Coventry Classics: Jaguar C Type

Are you in love with swooping lines of the gorgeous Jaguar C Type racing car? However, since they built just a handful of those Le Mans-winning cars, it is nearly impossible to find one for sale. But, there is a solution.

And it comes in the form of the Coventry Classic Jaguar. In fact, Coventry will build you a perfect replica down to the last detail. Also, they add the necessary improvements and modern components for durability and quality. It’s a win-win solution for C Type fanatics.

18. Factory Five Racing: 1933 Hot Rod

Factory Five Racing is a well-known company for its Cobra and Shelby Daytona kits. But this time, they went a step further and introduced a replica of the 1933 Ford roadster for devoted hot rod fans.

However, since the real ’33 Ford Roadster bodies are scarce and expensive, you can make your own hot rod for thousands less. And best of all, you can customize it according to your own wishes.

19. Parallel Designs: Torero

It is hard to distinguish the replica they call the Torero from the real Lamborghini Diablo. And this is the perfect testament to Parallel Design’s dedication to details. In fact, the company uses custom-built chassis and lots of same components as Lamborghini.

And doing so helps them deliver perfect look-alike cars. However, under the hood is not the screaming V12 engine but instead a Rover V8 unit. So, that means the Torero is not as fast as its Italian role model.

20. JH Classics: DGT 306

The Ferrari Dino caused quite a sensation when it first appeared in the mid-60s as the first small Ferrari. And more than 50 years later, those small coupes are still the most desirable models from Maranello. But one UK company, JH Classics, decided to introduce a replica model that looks like the real thing.

They named it the DGT 306. And this replica has a 3.0-liter V6 engine with a five-speed manual transmission that looks almost identical. However, the 3.0-liter V6 provides even more power and torque than the original. So, the DGT 306 is significantly faster with driving dynamics better than those Dinos from the late ’60s.

These are the 20 replicas that are better than the originals. These cars are the perfect solution for people who want to fulfill their dreams of owning a race car. They look and drive just as well but come with a lower price tag. And although they may still be a big investment, they are far more affordable than their real counterparts. So, thanks to these 20 modern replicas, many drivers can drive their dream car.

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