As one who detests the wind-tunnel design of modern cars, and one who truly loves older cars, I have to admit to a secret desire: to take a favorite older car, and somehow get it up to modern standards of build and reliability. To mention but two, I want an electrical system that will work pretty much all the time and not only if it’s not raining, and a body that doesn’t rust after a single rainstorm or, for that matter, having been just garaged next to a damp chamois cloth.
A couple of people have done that, of course, most notably the guys at Eagle Motors in England, who took the basic E-type and turned it into what Jeremy Clarkson once called “absolute perfection”, featuring a 4.7-liter
straight-8 12-pack instead of the original 3.8-liter 6.
Basically, it’s the E-type that Jaguar could have built back in 1961, had they had access to modern technology and not been constrained by wanting to price it far below the Ferraris of the time. They are now, of course, filthy expensive — Russian oligarchs, American tech billionaires and Arab oil magnates only need apply; but man, I’d love to own one.
Speaking of Ferrari, Longtime Readers will know of my fondness for the brilliant Dino 246GT of the late 1960s, because it is one of the most beautiful cars ever built — my #1, and pretty much in everyone’s top 5, for sure.
As much as I have always loved the look of the Dino, I’ve actually driven one and it’s a bit of a pig: the clutch is stiffer than a teenage boy reading a nudie magazine, and the gearbox is kinda clunky. The engine is still wondrous, though: Fiat’s original 2.4-liter V6 creation (history is here, and Iain’s followup Dino exposition is here) was perfectly tuned at Maranello, and its power and top end quite acceptable…
…for the time. Nowadays, it might need a little more poke, and Jay Leno shows how it’s done, courtesy of Ferrari fanatic David Lee (“This is the car that Ferrari should have built” — a paraphrase of the opinion I have about the Eagle E-type, above.)
And I want this car as much or more than I want one of those Eagle Speedsters. (Just in red, not on that horrible David Lee black, and without the “flares”. The above pic says it all.) A bored-out 3.6-liter F40 engine? Have mercy.
Thus, in the “Dream Cars” pantheon of my “When That Powerball Comes In” fantasy, the above two beauties are #1 and #1a (depending on my mood).
Silly rabbits; of course I have one:
1956 Mercedes 300 SC
That’s my tourer. Frankly, apart from putting in better electricals (lights, wiring, soft-top motor etc.), I may not mess with anything else beyond perhaps the suspension or steering if needed, because the mid-1950s 300s were built with only the best engineering, not just for the time but for any time. I would never put in a modern Merc engine because computers.
There may be more I could add as I think about the topic a bit longer, but for now, these three are absolutely perfect.
What would you pick to resto-mod? Remember: you get to keep the shape, but other than that, it’s an open field.