Although many people often hear the terms “Restomod” and “Restoration” being used almost interchangeably in the classic and collectible car marketplace, there is a big difference between the two descriptions. What the two terms do have in common is that they are both ways of describing the result of bringing an antique or classic car back to the appearance and performance it had when it was new. The decision to restore a car as either a “restomod” or a “restoration” job will usually depend on the age and value of a particular vehicle, and of course, the taste and the budget of the person performing the work.
A true “restoration” is a vehicle that has been reassembled with the goal of bringing it back to factory-stock condition only. A “restomod” job is defined as a vehicle that has been put back together with the addition of new modern or aftermarket parts that were not on the vehicle when it came from the factory. This makes a “restomod” a car with a combination of both factory original parts and some new parts designed to improve the performance or appearance of a vehicle, like putting a modern engine in it to make it more drivable, or painting a car in a new color that the original factory did not offer at the time of manufacture.
A car falls into the “restoration” category when it is restored back to the exact original specifications it had when it left the factory assembly line. Enhanced performance and drivability are not part of a true “restoration.” Instead, the goal is simply making the vehicle as factory-correct as possible. Cars that are super-rare or valuable are usually worth the most when in they are in “restored” condition. This means every nut and bolt on the car needs to be the same as original, and if the car is going to get high marks for its “restoration” job, everything on it must be compared to the original factory specifications.
Both “restorations” and “restomods” are recognized as legitimate collectible vehicle classes today, and both classes are judged separately and scored by different methods. While some of the rarest cars may be worth their most in “restored” condition, cars that are more common might be worth more in “restomod” condition, and in the end, which route you choose to take will ultimately depend on your own tastes and desires.