I’d like to pretend there’s an elegant reason why we’ve selected these three old cars with new or upgraded components – modernised classics, restomods, call them what you will – but the simple truth is that the concept is intriguing and we’d heard good things about these ones.
They’re a new kind of performance car, if you like; all that modern supercars are not. They bring performance down to approachable levels but keep the craftsmanship and desirability sky high. At least, that’s how I imagined it.
So here we are, at Llandow Circuit, south Wales, with three of the best of them. The idea is to have a track drive today and a road blast tomorrow, with some boring everyday driving in between.
All three cars do things differently. The smallest here is branded GTA-R by its specialist builder, Alfaholics. It’s a GTA-aping Alfa Romeo that can be based on any 105/115-series coupé – this one started as a 1967 1300 GT Junior. Alfaholics can simply restore one of those for you but, if you tick the full gamut of GTA-R options, you’ll spend the best part of £300,000 and have the kind of car you see here, with a 12-point roll-cage, seam-welded monocoque, titanium suspension bits, Alfaholics gearbox internals and a twin-cam, twin-spark four-cylinder engine originally from a 75, bored and stroked to 2.3 litres, fitted with lightweight internals and making 240bhp. The car weighs just 830kg.
Alongside it is a Porsche from specialists Tuthill, who do brilliant things with old Porsche 911s, including rallying them, racing them and ice-driving in them, which I’m told is the most fun you can have in a car. This is a bespoke customer build, a 1973 2.4-litre E-series 911, with a wide body. It’s more road car than track car but lovely nonetheless. The engine is still a period 911 2.4-litre, and the car is prepped to usable, fast road spec.
Next to that is a Jensen Interceptor, modified by Jensen International Automotive with a novel twist: a supercharged 6.2-litre Chevrolet LSA V8 making 556bhp. So quite a lot of novel twist. JIA takes an Interceptor, tidies the shell, fits Jaguar-influenced independent rear suspension and installs the mighty motor. Subtle it is not.