HomePick of the DayTo restore or to resto-mod, that is the question

To restore or to resto-mod, that is the question


The Pick of the Day comes with a quandary.

The car is a 1936 Ford 5-window coupe that appears to be immaculate in its advertisement on ClassicCars.com. 

The private seller notes in the car’s advertisement that it was titled by the father-in-law in 1967, “garaged and maintained as an occasional weekend around-town cruiser.  When he passed in 2015, it was then re-titled in Texas and continually garaged.”

The car is powered by a “period correct” 21-bolt 221cid flathead V8 with Stromberg 97 carburetor. The car has a 3-speed manual transmission, 6-volt electrical system and mechanical brakes.

“It does not have the rumble seat, but it does have the crank-down rear window option.”

The seller notes that the car won best in class honors at both car shows in which it was entered, including the Early Ford V8 Club Texas Tour.

So where’s the quandary?

Right here: “This is a great base for a classic restoration project, or a desirable vehicle for a resto-mod,” the seller suggests.

Ford coupes from 1932-34 are very popular with hot rodders, but this is a 1936 model. The asking price is $29,400, which seems reasonable for a car that appears to be ready for cruising, or perhaps even a nice road trip.

The car, located in Plano, Texas, is being offered in “Partially Restored” condition. 

So, would you complete the restoration that the previous owner already had started or would you opt to do a resto-mod with maybe a modern Mustang powertrain and updated suspension and customized interior? Or do you just leave it as is, doing only maintenance to keep it running? 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. The vehicle should be kept as an original. It will only increase in value as such due to the fact so many people hotrod these and ruin any originality in my opinion.

  2. this is a great car, and i am not really even a fan.

    the correct answer is neither. you fix it good enough to look good/great and drive it. do not do frame off, or the like. then you cannot drive it. also, this car does not need resto moding. that approach means that you have just given up, and don’t care, because you can justify mixing and matching all sorts of stuff. the car will never me as fast as a contemporary car, or handle as well. the real fun is in enjoying how it was intended to drive, difficultly, and then mastering it.

  3. As tempting as "improving it" is – it would be a sin to tamper with history here. Keep the old girl shiny and maintained and enjoy it for what it is; a beautiful classic.

  4. And the Answer is : It’s your Hot Rod, do what you want to it. Period correct, Resto-mod, or in between. You or another owner can change it back too. Ahhhh what a great country.

    • Looks like it is in great shape as it is. The more original it is, the more it is worth. However if your plan is to drive it, I’d see what changes would make it more roadworthy without losing value. I’d convert to 12 volt system and install juice brakes to make it safer. I was surprised to see it doesn’t have a rumble seat. I didn’t realize that was an option. 36’s were very popular back in the day.

  5. please finish resto. beautiful auto, too many have been chopped up . sure they look good but seldom find one this nice . ps. if nobody wants it , Ill take it

  6. If resto-mod means lowering then I am totally against. I get sick and tired of people lowering these cool cars and making them look like a low-rider.

  7. Leave ‘er alone! This car seems to be perfect just the way she is. I would do just enough to preserve it and maintain its driveability. I might consider a few simple upgrades in the name of safety, but nothing that couldn’t be easily removed and reverted back to factory specs. I.e. seatbelts, turn signals, 6-volt alternator…

  8. Yeah, let’s tear this loser apart, and fit an air ride suspension, put in AC, add some captains chairs and some boss chrome wheels! Then we can charge $100k for a $30k car! Money talks in the modder’s head, not history.

  9. I would probably go for a careful restomod, replacing the engine and running gear with modern kit as far as possible without making serious structural changes. Then I will rebuild the original running gear and keep them, putting them on display and ready to go back into the car if needed.

  10. I would finish restoration and keep original as possible. I have already had this issue, have a 35 Chevy Sportscoupe t hat I bought from the original owners estate. I plan on simply freshing up and driving it. There are still too many shells out there to hot rod or restomod, leave some of them as they were………………

  11. Do I really own it?
    WHAT AM I?

    Am I just a Custodian, Executor, Guardian, Trustee, Stewart or its Care-taker?

    As I get on in years and find myself more involved in the unwanted sale of a few choice automotive treasures, I have come to the realization that in reality I truly don’t “own” these treasures.
    Am I just the custodian or care-taker of such things? I can see that the person, who “owned” my 1936 Ford before me, treasured it and kept it in a close to factory condition. For what you may ask? Why didn’t he chop it, section it, customize it, stick a blower thru the hood and giant tires on the back or change it in any major way?
    To me the answer is truly a quandary of my feelings and automotive history. Who am I to take a perfectly fantastic stock piece of history and cut it up?
    And that’s where I am today. I realize with my age now that sometimes the history and enjoyment of a vintage piece or iron is just that. A way to be the Guardian or custodian if you’d rather, to simply enjoy it and hand it down and share that feeling of a true vintage lover of older engineering and history will experience what it was like way back when and imagine where it went and who also shared this feeling.
    A friend of mine once quoted “anyone can keep it stock, but it takes real balls to chop one up” Funny at the time I guess. If it were just a body and two doors all beat up, then yes I could do it.
    Except when I’m long gone this classic 5 window will still be here, but will it be under new ownership or will there still be the guardian, the care-taker to look over it, enjoy it, drive it and let it live on in history?

    So I asked myself, what AM I? Well I have realized that I’m just the temporary keeper of a time machine, one packed with old memories, feelings and some odd smells from time to time. And I will pass this on to the next player in the game and just pray that it not be chopped and found in some scrapyard in ten years with its memories crushed like so many have before it.

  12. I once owned one of these: Stock V-8, 1936 Five Window Coupe. This late in the game, to mess with this 86 year old gem would be an absolute crime. Keep it in original condition. They aren’t going to make any more of them.


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