New kind of 'old car' cruising California's highways

"Under the hood we've got a 2014 Corvette ZR1," said Tim, "It's an LS9 supercharged engine, it's about 700 horsepower. It definitely surprises people, it's got a lot of power and it's very quick.
LIVERMORE, Calif. (KFSN) -- There's a new kind of "old car" cruising California's highways. A Los Angeles company is making old junkers into modern engineering marvels.

A shiny paint job and gleaming chrome are what most car enthusiasts want in a vintage restored automobile. But Tim Vest has something different in the garage of his Livermore, California home. A 1948 Buick Super Convertible that looks like its spent half a century in a barn.

Tim explained, "It's a car that is all original on the outside and never been touched since the day it was manufactured and painted."

Tim loves the rough and time worn patina, and the beauty is -- the outside gives no hint as to what lies beneath.

"Under the hood we've got a 2014 Corvette ZR1," said Tim, "It's an LS9 supercharged engine, it's about 700 horsepower. It definitely surprises people, it's got a lot of power and it's very quick.

But it's more than just a souped-up hot rod.

"You don't just slap a new motor in and say let's go," explained Tim. "There's a whole lot of work that goes into it."

The work was done by one of the world's most unusual car companies, Icon Motors in Los Angeles. There, 39 mechanics and technicians help owner Jonathan Ward create unique vehicles of all types. But turning old bombs into a line of cars he calls "Derelicts" is one of his passions.

"A Derelict will keep that original romance of a barn find," said Jonathan. "So we don't screw with the exterior, leave the patina, leave the dents, leave the funky chrome and what have you. Then re-engineer them and do all the modern stuff hidden, restore all the details, but leave it looking at a glance, barn find."

Each car is completely taken apart, and not just restored but re-designed and re-engineered and with computer assisted design every piece is re-built to modern standards.

"Even the body, when I'm done, the goal is to make it look like I did nothing but we did far from it," added Jonathan. "When we start a project we laser scan the underside of the original body to get it into cad."

And it's remanufactured by hand. With the best of everything available.

Jonathan explained, "I don't want a carbureted V8 I want a fuel injected aluminum computer controlled emission certified V8 then I want a blower on it. Brakes, yeah I don't want to do a front clip from a junk yard Monte Carlo I want teague welded chrome-moly."

The finished cars are not like new. They are better than new.

"The problem is if you do them the way they were done back in the day you keep the shortcomings of the way they were done in the day," said Jonathan.

What's left from back in the day is the classic appeal of the vintage look. New leather is aged, modern equipment is made to look old, or concealed, like a navigation screen behind a grill, or a backup camera in a trunk ornament. But all this comes with a price, $160,000 and up.

"There's hundreds of shops around the country who do what we do to a lesser extreme degree, and that makes sense to a lot of people and it's far more cost effective," Jonathan said. "It's not for everyone and it shouldn't be."

But it's just what this customer wanted.

"I don't want to be driving around in a Ferrari, that's not me," said Tim. "To me I would feel like a jerk, but to drive around in this thing it's just fun. This car seems to make people sort of giggle and laugh and smile -- makes people happy, similar to the Disney movie cars."

Even Tim's wife Caroline approves. She said, "I'm taking it out this weekend, if he lets me."

And this old Derelict, it attracts lots of attention.

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