Buying a brand new "old" car

I can’t be the only person who wonders this, but why don’t car manufacturers reissue newer versions of classic cars? For instance, I’m a big BMW and Lincoln fan (I know, a strange combination) and I’d love to buy a 1963 Lincoln Continental Convertible some day. Obviously, a new one is out of the question. But, if I paid Ford enough money for their troubles of building a one-off car, would they do it? Clearly, a few things would need to be different from the original specifications like having all disc brakes with ABS and seatbelts. I can’t see the collectible car market crashing just because manufacturers decided to reissue cars. Guitar makers like Fender and Gibson reissue guitars and amps all the time with seemingly no effect on the legitimate vintage market. Of course, guitar and amp designs never change or look old hat in a few years like cars do, so the economics is different. Other than expensive retooling costs and plants already working at their full capacity building cars, what is stopping an automaker from doing such a thing? I bet there are a lot of people who wouldn’t mind buying a brand new 1968 Mustang, or something along that line.

If you just want one copy of a car from Ford, and money is truly no object, I’m sure they’d build you anything you wanted. I expect it would be easiest for them to simply hand-build it.

For the larger question of why Ford doesn’t mass-produce old model cars to modern buyers, not only is it expensive to retool, but you have to redesign the cars to meet modern safety standards. This is more than just adding airbags; think crumple zones and crash tests. The old thin steering wheel would be jettisoned as well; not only is there no airbag, but those old steering wheels had the bad habit of impaling people in crashes.

I suspect so much would have to be altered that the car manufacturer would basically be putting in as much effort as it takes to design and build a new car from scratch, and all for the subset of the auto market who like old cars, and likely prefers the originals to modern copies.

Well, currently that’s a big trend amongst automakers, the new ‘retro’ look. VW started it with their new Beetle. Now there’s Ford’s Thunderbird, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser & 300, and Cooper’s Mini.

Personally, I say, “BLEEEEECH!” Old cars look old for a reason! Big ugly chrome grilles, doofy round lights, bulbous door handles, Pah-lease!

The first time I saw a Mini I thought, “Do I look for Austin Powers driving it or do I wait for the clowns to start coming out?” :smiley:

You silly billy! Austin’s father (Faahjah), Nigel, drives the Mini.

You go even further towards answering your own question than you already have when you realise that while you are probably not the only person who wonders about this, you are probably one of very very few.

The bottom line is that the number of people who want a car that looks exactly like a 1968 Mustang but is in fact a 2004 Mustang (they are not going to be the same thing, not after safety regs are taken into account) produced by Ford is I should think not sufficient to produce the economies of scale necessary to produce such a thing at a price that those people could afford.

An interesting position and the heart of the “fashion” dilemma.

What features on current cars do you like, Hail Ants? Do you really doubt that in 20 years time once fashion moves on trendy people will regard those very same features as ugly, doofy, bulbous?

If that’s right, aren’t you really saying that you just like what manufacturers put out at any given moment, and regard as ugly what they put out before? If so, do you actually have any sense of aesthetics yourself, or are you just a slave to what manufacturers will have you buy?

Sure, fashion is subjective and fluid. But the whole ‘retro’ look just goes back too far for me.

And when I say old cars look old for a reason I mean that, until fairly recently, form always had to follow function. Cars had curvy lines instead of sharp corners because they were made of much thicker steel and they were easier to design & build like that. Things like door handles, mirrors, headlights, bumpers etc. all had a kind of inelegant, ‘bolted-on’ look to them because they were (bolted on, that is)!

Nowadays with modern materials and CAD etc. cars can be made to look much more complex and integrated.

As far as my current likes, a vehicle which seems to be universally panned, GM’s Aztec, I find very good looking. Also Toyota’s latest Celica. I much prefer low, sharp angles to the whole ‘marshmellow’ blobs that have dominated the last 20 years (started by Ford’s '83 Thunderbird & Cougar I think).

Although I’m not really into cycles, the best way to sum up my aesthetic opinion is to compare a Harley-Davidson with a Ninja. To me, a Harley is the most ugly, goofy, bloated, ostentatious looking thing ever. While a carbon-fiber clad rice burner is sleek, high-tech, and gorgeous. Sort of like comparing a Model T to a Lamborghini.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘retro’. Pretty is pretty. The new Ford GT is a near-clone of the old GT-40, and it is a drop-dead gorgeous car that will sell as many as Ford can make, and for good reason.

If there have been gorgeous cars in the past, that just happened to hit the perfect mix of shapes to become a classic, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be built today, with upgraded mechanicals.

Some retro is awful, but that’s just because the cars are lousy and/or ugly. The Chevy SSR comes to mind. But the new Ford Mustang is simply a gorgeous car. I’d take a retro Mustang any day over some generic teardrop shape from Chrysler or a rounded generic box from GM.

But you can’t make perfect copies of most of those old cars for lots of reasons. The first is new regulations - bumper crashworthiness, high mounted tail-lights, front, offset, and side impact tests, airbag wells, catalytic converter locations, emissions hardware, you name it. You just can’t package a new car in many of the old styles. So all you can do is adopt visual cues of varying strength from those old models. It can be subtle like on the Ford 500, or close to the same as in the Mini.

I’d like to see a retro Corvette take on the stylings of the 1863-1967 coupes and convertibles. And I’d like to see a new Camaro with retro styling back to the 1967-1969 coupes, going head to head with the new Mustang. Let’s re-start the Pony car wars, 2001-style. I’ll bet we’d see some really neat stuff.

Actually, for really popular models of older cars, it shouldn’t be too difficult to build an entirely new one, since all the parts are being made by third parties for the restoration crowd. There’d probably be regulatory hurdles, though. Most likely you’d need the VIN from an original in order to license it.

Hmm, I guess I really am one of the very few people on this planet that finds the idea of reissuing car interesting. I’m actually well versed in cars of all makes and models and I like many of the older designs of cars more than current ones. Believe it or not, I really like many car designs from the 1970s and 1980s. I tend to like cars that no one else likes. I suppose that’s a good thing if you are buying one since they are undesirable and cheap. I love the 1980-1983 Lincoln Mark VI and I have yet to meet another person who thinks that they are a nice looking car. What’s even harder to believe about that is that I’m 26 years old. Most people I know my age wouldn’t be caught dead in a car built during the Carter or Reagan administration. I guess I’m just disappointed that I’ll never be able to buy a brand new version of a car I enjoy, like the 63 Lincoln Continental or BMW M6, with the options I want in the color I want.

You can get new old cars … just not in the United States.

Head to India, and buy yourself a brand new Hindustan Ambassador, the design of which is based directly on the 1948 Morris Oxford.

Until 1991, Ford in Argentina manufactured Falcons based on the 1962 US design for the car. Go to South American, and you can find a relatively new old car.

If you have the money, I’m sure you can hire a competent mechanic to track down and assemble a brand new “old” car using NOS (new/old stock)…basically, spare parts for a model put in storage.

They did as much for “Project Copperhead” Chevy Pickup on TRUCKS, one of the Powerblock auto shows on SpikeTV.

Ah, the 1863 Corvette. Now THAT was a sweet machine. And talk about your retro stylings…

Aren’t there companies that make reproductions? I mean, like for period movies like “The Godfather” and others, are all those old cars the real thing, or are they reproductions?

Sure. ‘Kit’ cars are available that are often near-perfect reproductions of earlier vehicles. Especially popular is the AC427 Cobra. Other common kit cars are old English roadsters. I think they get around the safety regs because they aren’t mass produced. But I’ve never seen a kit car for a Corvette, Camaro, or other typical Detroit iron.

Not a brand-new old car, but wasn’t Nissan refurbishing and selling used 280 Z’s a few years ago? They weren’t up to current standards of crash-worthiness or safety, but they were sold in the US.

The kits are mass produced, but the key is they are kits. They can make as many kits as they want. What they can’t make are finished vehicles.

Kit cars fill the demand for cars like the cobra and some of the really old cars like the 1929 mercedes or jaguar. They also make kits to turn an el-cheapo car into an expensive car, so that the common guy can drive around in a fake ferrari or hummer (well not a hummer any more, they got sued over that one). Cobras are by far the most popular kit.

The demand for late 60 and early 70 era cars seems to be met by restoring old cars. There are enough of these old cars out there at a reasonable price that a kit would have a hard time competing.

Ford did make a replica of the Model A out of what was then modern parts, back in the 80’s.

I personally like older cars, especially big cars. Most of my friends and neighbors think I’m nuts, which is enough of a sampling of the overall population to make me think that a modern replica of a 63 lincoln probably wouldn’t sell very well.

I’ve seen a few companies in England remaking old Jaguars with modern electrics and Jaguarised V8’s. The updated vehicle is supposed to be quite drivable compared to their modern counterparts.
And VW in South Africa still produce the MK 1 Golf as a Citigolf. Its slightly cut down in spec, but sold alongside modern day VW’s as well.
There are other “classic” cars sold worldwide from where developing countries had firms from more developed countries develop their car industries by remaking their models long after they became obsolete.

Once upon a time (10 years ago) I heard a story about a guy actually ordering the old parts for a 1955 Mercedes Benz gullwing coupe and putting it together piece by piece in his garage.
When he finally had the thing all built, he wrote Mercedes a letter and they went ahead and mailed him a VIN plate dealy.
Of course, I got no way of verifying that story. But if it pans out, it would be an example of a guy who did in fact decide to “build 'em like they used to”.
Mercedes used to have really good old parts availability. Having owned a Mercedes though, I have serious questions as to how much cheaper it would be to build any Mercedes, even a hugely collectible one, out of spares versus buyer it outright from a collector.