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Hagerty Employee

Disguise your modern engine swap with these "old-school" parts

Cosplay is a fascinating subculture of the American geek population. A surprising number of comic book fans, movie buffs, and sci-fi aficionados like nothing more than turning up at conventions on the weekend dressed as their favorite fictional heroes, with some going to fantastic lengths when assembling their picture-perfect costumes and accessories. What if I told you that the same option was now available for classic cars? 


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Intermediate Driver

Double Ugh!

Pit Crew

Triple Ugh!


I've got no problem with a period-correct looking alternator that has increased output and reliability due to modern materials and electrics under the case, but sorry, putting a modern Chevy engine in a '55 makes it a hot rod, not a restoration.  I'm AACA old school (started in '68), and the only cars that should have antique plates are cars restored to factory original based on the day they came off the production line.  Resto-rods are garbage.

Intermediate Driver

Resto-mods aren't garbage.  As a frequent judge, including concourse events, I've seen a fair number of them.  They don't win or place in the restored or survivor classes - though some have been mistakenly entered in them.

I had my own resto-mod -- 1978 Black Pearl 280Z -- that had Datsun/Nissan engine bits, but with a block from a turbo ZX, and a single rail FI setup that looked better, was less complicated and more reliable than the factory setup.

The only others who considered it to be "garbage" were some old school hot rodders with lead sleds who showed up at a show and didn't want to park next to "Jap Scrap."

Pretty much everyone else who saw it thought it was well done and a genuine upgrade to the original.

Including but not limited to properly restored/original 280Z's.  Theirs were not Better -- just Different.

I am now doing a proper concourse-quality restoration on a car I first owned 52 years ago.  Though there are many more recent parts available, some of which appear close to original,  nevertheless this one is being built to a different standard.

I'm 100% down with Own What You Want, and Drive What You Own.

I would only add, Don't Complain about what others want and drive.  There's room in this hobby for more than one preference.

New Driver

No objection, but I don't call it a 'classic' anymore.  Might as well take a LeMans and install GTO badges and different power train - still is not a GTO.  My opinion is once you take a vehicle and make this kind of change it goes into a 'custom' category.  It is your car to preserve or change - for every one cut up, just means the stock ones become more rare. 


I agree, and disagree at the same time with what you said. If you have a '67 LeMans that's a numbers matching car, even if it's canary yellow, has a straight 6 with a 2 bbl carb on it, and you make all kinds of non-original changes to it, to transform it into a GTO, you have ruined the cars value. At the end of the day, it's your money, your investment, your car. If you want to lower it's value by doing all all means, it's your car, do what you want. Just understand that it's going to have serious negative impact on resale value. Now, if you have a '67 LeMans that has no matching numbers at all, the body is banged up and rusty, it has a blown engine, a leaky trans and a limited slip rear end, yank out the engine and drive train, replace it all with high performance parts and transform the car into a GTO tribute car, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Or, if you want to restore it to being as close as possible to factory condition (without matching numbers) I'm totally cool with that too.

I have my eyes on a fairly rare car that's in very nice condition. I hope I am in a position where I can buy it soon, before someone else does. I already know that it's a 100% numbers matching car. Having said that, my plans are to remove and replace the engine and drive train and replace it with something similar, but a bit more powerful, front to back, and make zero cosmetic changes to the car. The ONLY reason for doing this is to protect the original engine and drive train in case somewhere down the road, I decide I want to sell the car. I can reinstall the factory original parts and have a numbers matching car. This way, if I decide I want to go drag racing with the car, and pop the engine........I replace it, and still have the original sitting in a crate, and I haven't hurt the car's value.

Hagerty Employee

I'm an old school guy and haven't got bitten by the LS or New Hemi bug ..... but this definitely helps lessen my pain towards them! 


I agree 100%. It’s your car, so do it the way YOU want. I understand that not everyone will agree about what you did to your car, but that’s their problem. 

Intermediate Driver

I think that these engine-disguise kits are as tacky and insulting. If you want to put an LS engine in your hot rod, go ahead. But if you are so embarassed by your choice that you feel the need to hide it with some fakey vintage looking parts. Then you have missed the point completely. You might fool the losers and wannabees in the crowd. But anyone with any mechanical sense will walk away feeling insulted.

How could you convince anyone to buy this stuff ?

What is this hobby coming to ? 


The nice thing about being a part of the "car culture" is that the only person YOU need to impress with YOUR YOU. When I build a car for someone, I build it exactly as they ask me to. I don't care if I think it looks uglier than Rosie O'Donnell, it's that person's car, and that's what they wanted, so that's what they get. The same applies to cars I build for myself. If I want it, I do it, if I don't like something that 20 billion other people do like, I'm not doing it......I don't care.......because at the end of the day, it's still MY car and not yours. I am not building MY car to impress YOU, or ANYONE ELSE. I built it to impress me, myself, and I......and not a single other soul on this planet. If you don't like what someone else does with THEIR car, don't stop to look. Trust me, they won't get offended. Move on and go look at someone else's cookie cutter looking car that impresses you.

Pit Crew

This is not about fooling anyone.  It's about creating a car that you like visually and mechanically.  Lots of people love the look of old engines in the same way they love the look of old radios and old paint schemes.  It's ok to do any of these with modern technology and make the vehicle more useable and enjoyable.  Looking at it as some sort of 'pretend' statement doesn't seem to be anyones intention.  Someone who has gone to this trouble is more likely to point out all the trouble they went to than try and hide it and pretend.  No different to fitting modern rubber with whitewalls to complete the look.


I've made several upgrades to the cars i drive regularly for no other reason than safety and no fuel or electrical grief. So I have original power plants but with improved parts for reliability and safety as I've said. I thought a lot about it before I did it for the reasons explained above. I'm glad I did it and the cars are even more of a pleasure now than before. Thanks for good work.


It's a free country. Everyone is free to make whatever mods they want to their cars. As for me, I'll stick with OEM 1964.5 Mustang specs, down to the alkyd enamel paint. The only "cosplay" I do is folding chairs, haircuts, and clothes to match mid-60s. 😉


I think this is very cool.  However, if one has a real tri-power 427 C-2 or C-3, or a real fuelie C-1 or C-2 or Chevy, I would want to be able to correctly return it to original and enjoy driving it with the modern engine.

Pit Crew

It all in the eye of the beholder...If you want the look but don't want the hassle of old tech and drive the car...then its worth it. If its going to sit on some display till you sell it  then whats the need to make it a "driver".  Most tech upgrades ruin the stock look anyways so don't pick and choose where you try to use it to your advantage. Suspension , wheels and tires, brakes and exhaust seem to be something to look at if its added for performance gains but you don't drive it to begin with. More often it becomes like a piece of art on wall...LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH...I hate the fact that not all of these upgrades will be noticed at all. We know its what the builder wanted and the buyer will have to deal with but it doesn't keep people talking about this issue...100 percent stock means just that...but where do you stop when it comes to 100 percent of the car when it was new...Any piece of rubber, fabric glass, fluids or even air in the tires...Then you can tag it 100 percent original!!!!


I have a 1971 Camaro SS 350 that I bought new. It is “mostly” stock and/or stock appearing. Any engine modifications (cam, intake, carburetor, etc.) can be easily replaced with the stock items. Same with the custom Cowl Induction hood that wasn’t available on 2nd gen cars. I made my car, MY CAR. If someone doesn’t like what I’ve done they can change it back after they buy it. I’ve enjoyed driving MY CAR the way it is for almost 50 years and no one can tell me otherwise. 

Advanced Driver

If a vehicle has been restored--it is no longer as it came from the factory.  Turn the argument any way you please--it is NOT the same.  Owners do what they want to do

to achieve what they desire to park in their garages.  That's the bottom line.  Nothing will ever surpass a true Survivor (as defined and copy-righted by the Corvette People)


Does anybody actually believe that these attachments look 'period-correct' ? I am surprised that the manufacturer would label them as such. Certainly a case of false advertising. 

New Driver

I have a real, steel '34 Ford Cabriolet that we're currently finishing up.  It has a real Chevy small block with a pair of real Carter AFB's.  Looks like it's all real, sorry Lokar. 


In a culture that has always cherished personalization I'm surprised this is even a discussion. Personally my attempts at disguising my hardware started and stopped at wrapping my ignition coil in a beer can. So far, it has fooled no one.


Dead on!

Intermediate Driver

Owner's choice, of course and diversity of views makes for a more interesting world. My personal view is if you want a modern vehicle, then buy a modern vehicle. I don't favor changing the very nature of vintage classics that makes them unique and interesting in the first place. And remember, if you do, you are forever altering a piece of irreplaceable automotive history, so consider carefully.


I'm frankly surprised that there is much of a market for this stuff.  My assumption has been that most of the guys going for the restomod look spend time disguising most everything including the firewall and want a set of molded covers that make the engine look like something from a 2020 dealership.

Community Manager

Oh man, this 63 Restomod is dying for that setup.


Depends what you prefer. I prefer the look of the old school engines, new stuff looks crappy under the hood. Do I prefer the power of the new school LS... ABSOLUTELY!! I also appreciate the simplicity of the original SBC/BBC. I think these kits provide a good alternative to join old with new. Customize it, make it your own cause it is your OWN, drive it like you stole it cause in the end you're not taking it with you!


A properly set-up SBC or BBC carburetor engine are pretty much trouble free and easy and economical to maintain and there are many choices to dress it to make it stand out from the next guy. That being said, as the hobby started removing  carb set-ups and adding FI setups that became the popular thing. As we evolve to the next level in our hobby, every new build seems to have an LS engine. No doubt, they are great running engines out of the box once installed. For a regular guy looking to make the switch this can be a pretty expensive change, considering all the things involved. Personally I think they are plain UGLY! and almost every one looks the same except the paint, no individuality. Along comes Lokar and I am sure others, and they are starting to make these engines a lot better looking. As the hobby evolves so do new ideas, nothing wrong with that. I guess a lot of people still like the original style hot rod look.


i am old school but like 80% of classic car guys ,i prefer a nice driving and cool classic with up graded supension ,power brakes power steering and ac .my experience is fewer and fewer will buy a classic car that is hard to steer and hot ,matching # take a back seat

small and large blocks look better ,maybe a ls is faster but you can,t race either on the road anymore without running up on some body

Pit Crew

I think this is pretty creative for somebody doing a custom build. I doubt anyone would seriously consider doing this to a true factory muscle car.

I do draw the line at the Ford pieces. For the love of gawd, please stop dropping these into Fords. There are just as many real Ford engines extremely capable of getting the job done. Look at the 590hp Aluminator 317 inch crate engine available directly from Ford!

Hagerty, your new software is pretty but it crashes my iPad every time I load more comments or heaven forbid tried to load this comment. That required complete relogging  in which of course lost my previously typed in comment. Needs some fine tuning.

Intermediate Driver

I have to agree with Pagan_Wizard in certain cases, such as our Lemans ->GTO example know that you are devaluing that numbers matching Lemans and lowering its value.  It used to be that the performance (or threat thereof) with the GTO badges or V8 swap made it worth the effort, but subsequently resulted in one less Lemans survivor out there to share and preserve for automotive history.  However, nowadays, a 6 cyl LeMans will draw quite a crowd at a car show as people flock past all the tribute cars to examine your strange “LeMans” like its some of Canadian version of our more familiar Pontiacs.  So by preserving the stock Lemans you’ve helped your bank account, helped preserve automotive history and made yourself more popular, but what about the other consideration - performance or the treat thereof with the GTO badges?  That’s also now a no brainer.  No one at the stoplight is scared of the performance of a real GTO anymore, no even even a Judge.  The non-traction control, 0-6 times of the heavy, steel, legendary muscle arms of the 60’s and early 70’s can be embarrassed by a new V6 Camry so why bother!  Car folks will still love and respect the classic cars and you will enjoy the novel experience of driving them as they were made back then. 


However, as others here have pointed out: What if you found it with the engine & drivetrain long-gone? (Like me 90% of the time) Then I agree with the other camp - go nuts with the mods YOU like!  In that scenario, you are only increasing performance and usability.  I actually DO like that that these new “retro parts” make the engine look more traditional.  It’s kind of like a “tribute treatment” for the engine compartment! I like the look of cloth wire surrounds over modern, insulated wires in my engine bay.  Hey, lots of folks were fine with the “tribute treatment” of the exterior! (SS badges on every single Malibu & Chevelle grill)  How is this any different?  


If you think these parts are silly now, wait till they are only making these parts to make an electric MOTOR look like an old-school combustion ENGINE!  You will have to explain to your young-ins at the car show at the drive-thru joint, that vehicles used to run on fossil fuel combustion engines (illegal on public roads) powered by things that looked “kind of like that fake carburetor/air cleaner assembly” - and point at those “silly” fake parts. 


Hmm, all looks good here except those serpentine type belts need to go if you want to go full hawg.


Need to some tired old v-belts.