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What's the Difference on Classic Cars in Original, Restored and Resto-mod?

The fun of restoring or buying a classic car for sale is that there are so many options to choose from. You can go with the originality, restore it like new or use parts from another make and model entirely! It's important when you start this process though-to consider what restoration you really want or which would work best for the type of restoration your going with for your project. Restoring a classic car can be an unimaginable task. You must decide what type of restoration you want for your project and then figure out how much time, money and effort is required from start of planning through completion. Or you might be shopping classic cars for sale and see these terms when it comes to the restoration of that classic car for sale. There are three basic categories: original condition; restored or resto-mod. We’ll cover the basics of each of these categories in this blog so while your shopping classic cars for sale you know what you’re looking at and what to look for.


Original Condition Classic Cars
Original classic cars are an endangered species. A true, original classic car has been maintained both aesthetically and mechanically without the replacement of any parts; whenever possible, parts for needed repairs are fixed instead of replaced. So, you can be sure every inch of these classic cars is going to show its age when it comes time for a visual inspection.

The first thing to look for on a true original is matching numbers. Matching numbers means that all major components, such as engines and transmissions were serialized during production. This includes VINs which weren't standardized until the 1980s so each manufacturer up to that point had their own system for assigning them—this can help determine if your classic car is original by looking out for mismatched series numbers on parts of it. The serial numbers on these classic cars may refer to the assigned number from the production facility, date, or the series of the vehicle. Depending on the classic car’s make and model, the engine, transmission, rear axle, alternator, carburetor, distributor, water pump and heads may be numbered.  

So, a true original classic car has matching numbers and is worth far more than a classic car for sale without matches. If you have decided that a true original classic car is what you want, be sure to do the research on what series of numbers that particular make and model has, and which major components will have it. When it comes right down to it most classic cars for sale labeled as “original” would be more accurately placed in the restored category.

Restored Classic Cars
Restored vehicles are classic cars that have been restored to their factory specifications using original parts. “New old stock” or NOS, are original parts that have never been sold retail. These cherished items of yesteryear can be hard to find but are available. It will require some patience when searching for NOS parts for classic cars online, but they will restore your vehicle back into mint condition like it rolled off an assembly line on day one. The goal of a “restored” car, is to repair and refurbish the vehicle so that it looks and operates exactly the same as the day it was placed on the showroom floor.


Resto-mod Classic Cars
A resto-mod is when a classic car has been restored but modified with modern parts and technology. These classic cars for sale will look identical until you look under the hood or turn on the radio - at which point it's clear that something isn't quite as before. When an owner decides to modify their classic car, they usually do so because of emissions standards; or safety features like airbags or brakes. Many resto-mod classic cars have upgraded engines in order enhance performance while also increasing fuel efficiency. Having a classic car as your daily driver is another popular reason people go the resto-mod route. Modifying the classic car without significantly altering its outward appearance is the ultimate goal for any resto-mod classic car for sale.

Plan Ahead When Buying or Selling Classic Cars

Whether you want a classic for your own restoration project or want a finished version; when you’re looking at classic cars for sale it will fall into one of these three categories we’ve discussed. Resto-mods are probably the most popular because they look and feel like the originals but with the benefits of modern technology and operation, so they’re perfect for the person just wants a fun classic to drive. The restored classic car is if you really want to keep your classic car as close to the original as possible, while the true originals are extremely hard to find and have the price tag to go with them. If you’re considering purchasing a classic car for sale, it’s wise to think ahead when it’s time to sell it. If you’re looking buying one for your own project, know upfront, on any of these restorations that it’s rare to ever get back what you will put into it. Original and restored classic cars will hold their value the best. 

*While every reasonable effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this information, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions contained on these pages. Please verify any information in question with Dealer.