On a recent business trip to Detroit (which included visits to the country’s top auto manufacturers), Craig Jackson—the chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auction Company—learned that annual sales of aftermarket engine components and crate engines could soon eclipse $1 billion. Those projected sales numbers reflect the growing popularity of significantly customized vehicles, including restomods—a term used to describe classic automobiles (mainly from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s) that are modified to be more comfortable, offer contemporary conveniences and amenities, and deliver better performance, all while retaining their classic lines, proportions, and overall aesthetics.
“When you walk up to a [modified] car, you can tell when it was done by the components that were put into it and the technology of the time,” says Jackson. “It’s amazing how fast some stuff is changing from one year to the next. When you go to SEMA [Specialty Equipment Market Association] nowadays, you see just how much stuff is being produced for that market. It’s not fringe anymore; it’s mainstream.”
The various auctions that Jackson’s company hosts each year also provide evidence that restomods and other customized vehicles are gaining traction within the collector community. At Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction, to be held September 27 through 29, for example, more than 200 customized vehicles will cross the block, the majority of which are at least 40 years old.
Because Barrett-Jackson offers almost all of its vehicles at no reserve, predicting the auction’s top-selling cars prior to the event can be difficult. Nevertheless, the following five restomods are vehicles that have strong odds to bring top dollar when they cross the Barrett-Jackson block later this month.