Scottsdale, Arizona - Certain cars have captured the imagination of classic car enthusiasts across the decades, from the Bugatti Type 57 to the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 California and the Porsche Speedster.
The trouble is, even if you could afford to own one of these motoring icons, their technology is at least half a century out of date and by today’s standards they’re neither practical nor fun to drive.
One solution is to buy a beat-up old classic and have an expert ‘restomod’ it - restoring the car’s body (and its appearance) to near-concours condition while upgrading the drivetrain and running gear to 21st century standards.
The best of these are classics in their own right: Singer in California does some amazing updates of Porsche 911s, while Classic Motor Cars in Shropshire will build you a 1961 E-Type that drives like a 2017 model. The downside, however, is that the supply of originals is limited, and becoming more so.
The most popular basis for restomodding in the United States is the ‘64-67 Ford Mustang - but they’re almost all gone now. There aren’t many more viable early Mustang bodyshells left out there, which is why Dynacorn in Camarillo, California is producing new ones using the original Ford tooling, albeit at an eye-watering $17 500 (R238 000) for an unpainted body with no bonnet, grille, or front fenders.
But there is another approach: you can take a current model (preferably of the same make) that’s about the right size and general shape, and fabricate a whole new set of outer body panels, trim elements, and interior fittings, so that it looks just like an old classic, but with modern engine, gearbox, suspension and, most importantly, safety systems such as ABS and traction control.
Which brings us to Wade Morrison of Starke Automotive and his abiding fascination with the Porsche Speedster. Original Speedsters are now too valuable to use as daily drivers and by 2017 standards it’s not really a performance car.
But fast forward to today, and the Porsche Boxster, a 270kW, mid-engined, flat six hooligan tool, with every performance bell and whistle you can think of and a few that you won’t. There are plenty of them around so, in the United States at least, used ones aren’t expensive and parts for them are readily available.
Starke will strip down any Boxster made from 1997 to 2012 and rebuild it with hand-laid glassfibre body panels and CNC-machined billet aluminium trim so that the finished car - badged as the the Revolution CS - looks almost exactly like a Speedster, but goes, stops and handles like a Boxster.
And after that the only limit is your imagination. Bring Morrison a Boxster with an automatic gearbox and he’ll give you a paddle-shift Speedster. Revolution CSs are individually built to order, so you can have any colour you want and any variation of interior trim and styling that’s feasible in a Boxster body-shell.
Plus there’s a long list of engine and running gear upgrades to choose from because once again, any performance modification that will work on a Boxster can be applied to a Revolution CS.
All of which is not cheap and, because no two cars are the same, there’s no such thing as a price: it costs what it costs, starting at $59 950 (R814 000) which doesn't include the donor car. But what you get is a car that is both a motoring and a Hollywood icon (Kelly McGillis drove a Speedster replica in Top Gun), that can be driven every day and maintained by any Porsche dealership.