Survivor vs. Resto-mod


Just last Saturday we took in a really nice, (almost) all original 1967 Chevy Camaro SS for storage. The current owner is the brother of the original owner and wanted a safe secure space while she is up in the bay area.

I told her that the car was kind of a ‘survivor’…and that prompted her to ask ‘What’s a survivor’. It got me thinking that I probably use a lot of this car-nerd lingo around my customers and should define some of it. So here I’d like to explain the different between a survivor and a resto-mod car.

Survivor Car


A survivor car is an older classic that has ‘survived’ the ravages of time, miles, and restoration in bad (and good) taste. The paint is usually original and miles are low. Interior is all together (if not a little dusty) and all of the bright work and trim should be intact. A survivor should also have original wheels. You get bonus point for quirky stuff like old political campaign stickers and add-on 8-track players.

The Dodge Polara above is a definite survivor car.


Resto-mod cars are classic cars that have been modernized. Literally they are a MODERNIZED RESTORATION. They offer old school looks but an updated engine, A/C, brakes, wheels, Suspension, tires, and interior. They are often painted with a new school flair as well.

People who convert a classic into a resto-mod don’t usually start with anything inherently valuable (like the above Camaro). It’s usually a rolling hulk with no engine or a plain-jane commuter car (like a straight 6 mustang). The ‘Elanor’ Mustang from Gone in 60 Seconds is probably the most famous of these cars:

This F-100 Panel Van I took some pictures of at the Coronado Car show this past weekend is an excellent example. As you can see the truck has been dropped and painted a very loud sea foam and white two tone. I think I even see a fuel injected LT-1 Corvette engine poking out from under the engine bay.

Inside we see a very elaborate beach motif…Something that would have never been in this delivery vehicle as stock but it is very well done and tasteful.

And there you have it!

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