Home Cars American Beauty: Classic Cars That Are Simply Stunning When Modded

American Beauty: Classic Cars That Are Simply Stunning When Modded

Vukasin Herbez January 31, 2023

Car modifying is a multi-billion-dollar industry ranging from a simple sticker set to expensive, advanced engine changes and body kits. With so many choices out there, the only limiting factor is money. Most of the time, drivers need a lot of cash to turn an ordinary car into something special after it’s been modded.

Car fans love to see an adequately modified car. And many of those fans pay close attention to classic American cars that went through the hands of talented engineers and designers. That’s why we’re going to showcase our favorite American classic cars that are simply stunning when modified. These American classics set the template for so many enthusiasts around the world, so enjoy them here.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Yenko Stinger

Everybody knows about the fantastic Yenko 427 Camaros. But did you know about the Yenko Stinger, a race-prepared Corvair that won the SCCA championship? Even before the Camaros, Yenko produced at least 100 white Yenko Stingers with a special suspension, modified bodies, and 160-190 HP flat-six engines (via Hemmings).

Photo Credit: Silodrome

The cars proved to be very competitive and stable compared to other SCCA competitors. However, when the Camaro was introduced, Yenko turned to 427 conversions and the Yenko Stinger project was put on hold. Today, those white coupes are highly sought after by collectors.

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

Saleen Mustang SC 1993

Steve Saleen was dubbed the Carroll Shelby of the ’80s due to his connection with the Ford Mustang and overall racing success. In 1993, he presented one of the best Fox-body cars in the form of the Saleen Mustang SC. The 5.0-liter V8 was given a supercharger and delivered a mighty 325 HP (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Auto Evolution

Of course, the Saleen Mustang SC had bigger brakes, a beefed-up transmission, and a new suspension. But that wasn’t all, as it boasted unique wheels, a characteristic body kit, and exterior trim. It turned out to be one of the most souped-up Fox-body Mustangs of all time.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

ICON Ford Bronco

One of the most popular restomod companies is the California-based ICON4x4. The company has risen to fame by building classic Jeeps and Land Cruisers with modern engines and tricked-out suspension kits. However, one of their most successful products is the ICON BR – short for Bronco. As you guessed, the basis for this custom project is an older, first-generation Ford Bronco. It was a popular classic SUV from the late ’60s (via Uncrate). Due to its compact dimensions, all-wheel drive, and powerful engines, the Bronco was a common choice back in the day.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

But ICON wanted to enhance every aspect and introduce the classic shape to 21st-century standards. So, owner Jonathan Ward teamed up with designer Camilo Prado to present the ultimate Bronco. They equipped it with the new Ford Coyote 5.0-liter V8, a fully-adjustable suspension kit, and a five-speed manual transmission. It also got ABS brakes and other mechanical and visual modifications. The basic design stayed the same, so the ICON BR still looks like a classic Ford Bronco but drives like a supercar. ICON will happily build a Bronco with your name on it according to your specifications. But keep in mind the waiting list is over a year long, with prices start just shy of $200,000.

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Chrysler 300 Hurst

In 1970, a special limited-edition Chrysler 300 Hurst was produced. It was built in very limited numbers of around 500 with the help of the famous transmission company Hurst. It featured a special white and gold paint job, a similarly-styled interior, and a rear spoiler integrated into the rear deck lid. Under the hood, a mighty 440 V8 engine with 395 HP propelled the two-ton beast to respectful acceleration times (via Top Speed).

Chrysler 300 - Chrysler
Photo Credit: eBay

The model appeared for one year only and gone after 12 months. Still, true Mopar aficionados will never forget gold and white behemoths with Hurst emblems. Dedicated Chrysler historians placed this special version as a continuation of the “Letter Cars” lineup.

Photo Credit: Uncrate

Legacy Power Wagon

Located in rural Wyoming, Legacy Classic Trucks specializes in restoring and restomoding legendary pieces of American car history. Legacy Classic Trucks introduced a series of Restomod models that amaze truck fans with their quality craftsmanship, engineering, and original idea. There are several classic trucks on offer, but the most interesting is the Legacy Power Wagon (via Legacy Classic Trucks).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Legacy based it on the legendary Dodge Power Wagon. But Legacy’s interpretation keeps the original design, durability, and usability. They also added a ton of modern features. This transformed the rugged truck from the 1930s into one of the best off-road vehicles of the 2020s. Prices start at just below $200,000 for a basic model powered by a 6.2-liter Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine with 430 HP. If you want, you can get a modern V8 diesel engine in your Legacy Power Wagon and an extended cab or double cab configuration. Best of all, the latest state-of-the-art electronics, suspensions, and creature comforts are all part of the package.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Ringbrothers AMC Javelin

If you follow the custom car scene and the annual SEMA Show, you know about the Ringbrothers. Founded by brothers Jim and Mike Ring in Spring Green, Wisconsin, this custom shop is responsible for some of the last decade’s most interesting, daring, and innovative restomod cars. Most of Ringbrothers’ creations are one-off machines they’ve designed and built for wealthy owners who want something beyond the usual way of thinking (via Ring Brothers).

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

Over the years, Ringbrothers cars have been regular SEMA Show winners, and it is hard to pinpoint one machine car fans could call a favorite. However, their latest showstopper is the 1972 AMC Javelin AMX. This may be an unusual choice, but it shows how far the brothers go to present unexpected cars and designs. They fully re-bodied the 1972 Javelin in carbon fiber with numerous styling details all around. The power comes from a 1,100 horsepower Dodge Hellcat supercharged V8 Hemi engine sent to the rear wheels over a special sequential gearbox. The interior is fully custom with LCD displays and the finest materials as well.

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Ford Raptor Hennessey 6×6

This car has a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 with 450 HP and 510 lb.-ft of torque, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and sub-five-second acceleration times. Those figures suggest this is an exotic supercar, right? No, this is a full-size pickup truck with room for five people and a regular truck bed in the back (via Hennessey Performance).

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But for folks at Hennessey Performance, this wasn’t enough, so they attached one more axle on the back, creating a 6×6 vehicle, and upgraded the engine power to 600 + horsepower. Of course, the price for this unbelievable vehicle is astronomical and starts at $349,000.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Mach 40

What are two of Ford’s biggest legends from the ’60s? One is of course the Mustang and one is the GT40, the legendary race car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times in a row. But what do you get if you combine the 1969 Mustang Mach I with the 2006 Ford GT? The answer is the Mach 40, a crazy Restomod that shows what a mid-engined Mustang would look like (via Car Scoops).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

And the Mach 40 looks great. Oregon-based Eckert’s Rod & Custom took the chassis of a 2006 Ford GT supercar with its 5.4-liter supercharged V8 and tuned it to produce from 600 to 850 HP. Then they fabricated a whole new body based on the 69′ Mustang, stretching the rear end to accommodate the engine. The result is fantastic and is almost stock in appearance.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Kellison J6

In the late ’50s and early ’60s, fiberglass body construction stopped being a high-tech process exclusive to established manufacturers and became something you could do in your garage. This influenced numerous small companies to start offering their plastic bodies to be mounted on regular car chassis creating a unique, interesting design. Most of those companies produced just the bodies, often with crude designs and poor fit and finish, but not Kellison (via Silodrome). Established in the early ’50s, Kellison produced several successful kits for installation on popular models. And in the early ’60s, the company introduced the J6.

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The J6 could be bought as a kit or a fully-built car, making Kellison a boutique car manufacturer. The J6 uses the Corvette frame but Kellison didn’t just re-body the ‘Vette. They moved the engine further back in the chassis, changed the suspension, and installed larger brakes and a different interior. This made the J6 better handling and even faster since the J6 body was somewhat lighter than the stock Corvette. This conversion was popular and over 500 bodies or cars left the factory. The J6 was very successful in the hands of private racing teams since it offered Corvette power in a better handling package.

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Shelby GT500 ‘Eleanor’

Would you pay a cool million for a Mustang? There were times when people would consider it impossible, but the most expensive cars have already exceeded that number. In May 2013, the famous car from the ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’ remake sold for a million bucks, making history (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The movie was released in 2000. Despite an all-star cast, the real star was the heavily modified 1967 Shelby GT500 with the name “E,” for Eleanor. Although they used several cars used for the shooting, “E” was the “hero car” for close-ups and promotional purposes. After the movie, Eleanor became extremely popular. Lots of companies produced and sold replicas with various drivetrains. Purists protested because they made several Eleanors using the real 1967 Fastback, which many considered blasphemy. Even though this car is almost 20 years old, its appeal is still strong. The lucky owner of the real Eleanor must’ve thought the same thing.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Devon GTX

You might remember the Devon GTX sports car since the project caused quite a big stir in 2009-10. The vehicle was born as the ultimate American sports car using a Dodge Viper RT10 basis and engine, although with numerous modifications and upgraded power of 650 HP. The GTX used the same six-speed manual with improved performance and top speed. It even broke a few track records during testing, but nothing official was confirmed (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Unfortunately, the economic downturn and recession of 2009-10 hit the car industry especially hard and caused significant problems among car makers. Chrysler decided to kill the Viper project and discontinue the production of platforms and engines, thus affecting Devon’s production of the GTX. Devon tried to buy the rights for Viper’s platform, but Chrysler rejected the bid, causing the company to close after a few pre-production cars left the factory.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Equus Bass 770

Muscle cars are a perfect canvas for restomod painters, but most companies do engine swaps and suspension modifications. However, Equus is not that kind of a company. They managed to produce a fully custom car from scratch that has that unmistakable 60’s muscle car look. But they added the state-of-the-art power, technology, and quality that set them apart from the rest (via Equus Automotive).

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The basis for the Bass 770 is a ’67 Mustang Fastback. The car got its own visual identity during the process with a new front, back, and several other design details. Its chassis, suspension, and drivetrain are brand new and more advanced than anything you could find in a production muscle car. However, the real gem is the engine. It’s a hand-built, 6.2-liter Chevrolet LS9 V8 with 650 HP and performance numbers those ’60s muscle cars could only dream about. With custom touches unique to each owner and the investment of over 5,000 man-hours in each vehicle, it’s understandable why the base price for the Equus Bass 770 is over $500,000.

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Callaway Sledgehammer

Rives Callaway established Callaway Cars in 1977, long after the muscle car craze winded down and high horsepower performance machines were just a thing of the past. He specialized in producing turbocharger kits to be installed chiefly on European cars. His knowledge, expertise and the start of the turbo era perfectly lined up, and the company took off (via Imsa).

1988 Callaway Sledgehammer ZR1 Corvette
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

His knowledge, expertise and the start of the turbo era perfectly lined up, and the company took off (via Imsa).To show the real potential of the twin-turbo C4, Callaway produced the legendary Sledgehammer Corvette, a highly modified and heavily turbocharged 1988 Corvette which had 898 HP and could go over 250 mph.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

ICON Derelicts Series

After the successful classic off-road and SUV cars ICON produced, the company moved further to reinvent the restomod class. With their Derelicts series of vehicles, owner Jonathan Ward combined restomoding with preserving the original patina and surface rust. This helped ICON achieve the perfect authentic period looks with modern performance and power. The Derelicts series aims to find original, unchanged vehicles with the original paint (via Icon4x4).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Then they disassemble the cars and give them new power plants, transmissions, chassis, and suspensions. ICON even produced custom wheels that look like the stock wheels of the period, but they make to fit modern rubber. The most important thing is to keep as much of the original body and paint intact. They even keep the interior in a rugged shape. ICON modifies many ’40s and early ’50s American cars. At first glance, you may think you are looking at an unrestored and tired old car. But you are actually looking at a perfect Restomod with 500 HP under the hood.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Revology Ford Mustang

The new, $160,000 Revology 1965 Mustang looks like any stock 1965 Mustang down to the slightest detail. But looks can be deceiving. The Revology car is a new vehicle they built in 2017 with contemporary parts and body panels. The only thing that’s old about this Mustang is its design. The idea behind Revology Mustang is to offer exact classic looks but with modern technology, driving characteristics, and performance (via Revology Cars).

Photo Credit: Automobile Mag

Revology takes brand new bodyshells the Dynacorn Corporation builds that are exact replicas of Ford’s panels. But they produce them from high-quality stainless steel. Then they install a modern independent rear suspension, ABS brakes, and chassis reinforcements. This makes the Revology Mustang drive and handles like an actual contemporary performance automobile. The heart of the build is Ford’s modern 5.0-liter V8 engine with 425 HP that can go with an automatic or manual transmission. The result is nothing short of amazing. Drivers get the recognizable, classic looks of the Ford Mustang with the performance of a 2018 Shelby GT350.

Photo Credit: Roand and Track

Equus Throwback

One of the newest and most exclusive American sports cars is a brand new and very sophisticated Equus Throwback. You might remember the story about the Equus brand, which concentrates on producing restomoded muscle cars. Now, the company has decided to go a step further into the sports car market with the 2018 Throwback (via Equus Automotive).

Photo Credit: Roand and Track

Under the highly stylized body lies the Corvette C7 chassis and components, but Equus decided to improve every aspect of the car, from suspension to brakes, engine, and gearbox. According to the press release, Throwback is available with an optional 1000 HP engine to give the car a 0 to 60 mph time of just 2.5 seconds and a top speed of over 220 mph.

Photo Credit: Mecum

Ford Thunderbird Supercharger

The Thunderbird was introduced in 1955 and outsold the Corvette immediately, but the T-Bird was never as sharp and fast as Chevrolet’s sports car. To compete in performance, looks, and desirability, Ford introduced two engine options that set the standards in terms of performance and now have a special place in the history of American performance and muscle cars today (via Mecum).

Photo Credit: Mecum

Mounting Paxton or McCullough supercharger on top of the 312 V8 engine, which was optional, gave the Thunderbird a 300 HP rating. If that wasn’t enough, Ford offered an even hotter 340 HP version of the same supercharged engine for race cars only.

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Ares C2 Corvette

You might think that the Italian restomod company Ares would be involved in producing special Ferraris or Maseratis. Yet no, they invested a lot of time and effort into producing the ultimate C2 Corvette Stingray. Ares kept the original appearance down to the last detail but totally reworked the interior and chassis (via Ares Design).

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Practically, this is a C2 Corvette with the current C7 running gear and chassis bits. Ares managed to install suspension setup, brakes, and drivetrain from the latest generation Corvette along with an LS3 engine with 535 HP and a five-speed manual transmission.

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