Monday, May 21, 2018
Business

Enhancing classics with old-car style and modern mechanicals

Once shunned by purists, older collector cars and look-alikes fitted with modern engines, transmissions, brakes, electronic controls and sound systems are gaining new respect. Broadly known as restomods, cars that have been updated under the skin are as easy to drive, and often as safe and reliable, as a new model. And after modernization, these sought-after vehicles are unlikely to be garage queens, gathering dust.

The concept has friends in high places.

"I'm a firm believer in upgrading old steeds with modern components," Jay Leno, the comedian and enthusiastic collector, told Popular Mechanics. His 1925 Doble steam cars have Corvette front disc brakes; his 1966 Ford Galaxie has many improvements, including rack-and-pinion steering; and his 1955 Buick Roadmaster has a 620-horsepower General Motors big-block motor.

More and more companies are trying to make these sorts of enhancements into viable businesses. In California, Icon remakes classic Jeeps, Toyota Land Cruisers and Ford Broncos. In England, Eagle turns out new-old Jaguar E-Types. Many garages are willing to build classic Camaros and Mustangs to their owners' specifications, with originality way down on the priority list. If there's one thing these sometimes handcrafted cars have in common, it's that they're very expensive.

Singer Vehicle Design, which opened in 2009, builds what the company's founder and creative director, the former Lotus designer Rob Dickinson, calls "our expression of the ultimate air-cooled Porsche 911." Prices vary, but the keys to one of these cars will cost more than $300,000. The cars feature custom-built carbon-fiber bodies that evoke classic 911s from the late-1960s and early '70s, and are built with modifications on a later 964 platform. It takes six months and 3,500 man-hours to build one of the cars, Dickinson said in an interview. "The business case is a bit tenuous," he said. "The car is very expensive, but it's a halo vehicle that shows what the company can do."

In his California shop, the British-born Dickinson has built only eight cars. The car was fairly restrained from the outside, with just fat tires and a modest tail spoiler to suggest its speed (including an estimated 4.5 seconds from zero to 60 miles per hour). The 2,700-pound car's 3.9-liter engine (developed and hand-built by Cosworth from the original 964 motor of 1992 at a cost of $55,000) produces 360 horsepower.

Perhaps because it was more attuned to California, the Singer Porsche started somewhat reluctantly and settled into a lumpy, rumbling idle.

The driver sits tightly but comfortably ensconced in a supportive Recaro seat in a custom woven leather pattern. A tomato-colored tachometer is straight ahead, with the speedometer and clock to the right. Little details became apparent, like the luggage-like hand pulls to open the doors and the racing-type rear-view mirrors mounted through the vent windows.

The long brake and clutch travel was reminiscent of past 911s, and cues to that heritage abounded, but this car brought along many modern refinements. Any doubts about the Porsche's willingness were erased when the throttle was engaged; the car responded instantly to even the most minute input from the driver's foot, producing growls, roars and overtones. The six-speed gearbox offered short throws and was easy for a novice to use.

Comments
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE ó The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
One of Ybor Cityís most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

One of Ybor Cityís most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

TAMPA ó Developers are poised to launch construction this week on one of Ybor Cityís biggest new projects in years ó a four-story, $50 million boutique hotel being created by a Chicago company that seeks out neighborhoods rich in color and character....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Publix has been Floridaís favorite grocery chain for decades ó but some shoppers are turning their backs on the store after learning it donated more than half a million dollars to gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. A handful of state advocacy group...
Updated: 6 hours ago
GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel. "For all those that have said summer travel will be unaffected by high gas prices, we offer thousands of respondents who have strongly indicated thatís not tr...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Netflix announced a production deal Monday with Barack and Michelle Obama that will see the former first couple create a wide range of content for the streaming service.The deal, talks for which had first been reported in March, will encompass a wide...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You donít have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Published: 05/21/18

Hernando Business Digest for May 25

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL UPGRADES SURGICAL SYSTEM: Oak Hill Hospital recently acquired the latest da Vinci Xi Surgical System, which has broader capabilities than prior generations of the system. The new system is designed with the goal of furt...
Published: 05/21/18
Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

Camping without the hassle: New service rents you all the gear you need, plus the car

One day in April, I returned from a camping trip - a quick 24 out of the city - and ran a load of laundry. Whatís more telling is what I didnít do.I didnít hose down a muddy tent, I didnít soak a shoddily cleaned pot, and I categorically did not empt...
Published: 05/19/18
Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

Romano: Save your money, sports betting wonít be in Florida anytime soon

It is the middle of the day and the beginning of the off-season at Tampa Bay Downs. That means the action is limited to simulcast wagering, and that means the televisions outnumber the bettors.The parimutuel industry is long past its heyday in Americ...
Published: 05/19/18
Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

Son of Crabby Billís founder leaves complex legacy of troubled projects and good deeds

SOUTH PASADENA ó Like his father, who founded the Crabby Billís seafood restaurant chain, John Loder Sr. had a larger-than-life personality. That was one reason he dived into the real estate business, becoming a well-known, if at times controversial ...
Published: 05/18/18
Updated: 05/21/18