Categories in Classics

Image: a Porsche backdate conversion to the 911 ST of the years 1970/1971 based on a Porsche 964er. Offered by

In my very first article for the TMC newsletter I outlined the differences between originality, authenticity and condition when assessing a classic vehicle. You can check it out here. I now felt the need of approaching some other terminology which recently appeared in the scene, sometimes for marketing purposes.

To start with I must say that all cars entering into any of these categories are not original anymore. We approach the following categories as different paths of divergence from being original with different goals and using different methods.

Continuation Cars.

These are chassis numbers which were planned to be made during period but were never finished for different reasons.

Most famously are the “missing six” Jaguar lightweight E-Types; 12 out of total 18 planned were built in period. Jaguar recovered the construction of these six well identified and registered chassis numbers during 2014-15 to complete a batch started in 1963.


These are copies of an existing original car, or sometimes an extinct car whose existence is well documented.

If the replica has been made using period correct materials, tools and constructions techniques, we could say the result is an Authentic replica of the original car. Many of my classic car fellows are of the opinion these are the cars we should race (and eventually crash) to preserve the original car. Often replica cars used in competition will have been built with (much) more powerful engines, improved brakes, suspensions, gearboxes etc. They may have FIA passports but in fact have very little to do with original specs. Suffice to say, it’s what’s needed in today’s historic racing if you want to win.

In the market you will find good, medium, poor and sometimes jokes of replicas, with some achieving zero levels of authenticity.

Resto Mods.

When restoring a classic car or recovering it for driving purposes, we are faced with decisions which might diverge from the originality of a car in favor of security, reliability and/or performance. One easy example is an upgrade from drums to discs brakes or deleting distributors with electronic ignition.

When taking all these upgrades to the extreme we will end up with a totally modified car with almost nothing original but the body work (and that’s in the best of cases).

We can say a Resto Mod is car which, after a restoration work, retains some original components, usually the body work, but ends up full of modern components.


This is a term that was very common before Resto Mod became popular, but this is a differentiation between the two.

An Outlaw is a healthy classic car which we have modified consciously in search of performance or any other experience. A good example can be swapping a combustion engine with an electric engine or any other non-original power unit.

Retro Mods or Back Date.

This is the latest fashion in the classic car scene. However, it has nothing to do with classic cars as it consists of taking a modern car and modifying it to a point where it looks like a classic car model.

Porsche has been one of the drivers of this new trend when they introduced a special series of modern 911s with a vintage look. There is nothing bad about this as it is always good to pay homage to those models which fulfilled one’s childhood dreams.

In closing, as a word of caution, in certain countries it may be very difficult, if not impossible, to register any of above variety of cars for use on the street. Make sure to do your homework before you sign that check.

I hope this overview has been helpful and wish you a happy motoring!

Julio Saiz