As all eyes in the motor industry focus on saving the planet – burying the internal combustion engine and converting to electric cars – more than a few traditional auto enthusiasts are considering what to buy for a final fling as the era of petrol power heads towards its last hurrah.
If you’re among them, London-based restoration company Classic Investments might just have the answer in the form of a gas-guzzling American muscle car that has been restored to “better than new” condition and upgraded for 21st-century driving in the process.
And it’s not just any old muscle car, but an example of the mighty Dodge Charger that co-starred behind, alongside and in front of the Mustang Fastback driven by police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (aka Steve McQueen) in the epic 10-minute, 53-second car chase that was a highlight of the 1968 detective thriller Bullitt.
Fans of the more lighthearted television series The Dukes of Hazzard will also recall that an orange Charger named General Lee was the chosen wheels of wayward country cousins Bo and Luke Duke.
The Classic Investments offering is, however, more like the first car, with its mirror-black paintwork and environmentally unfriendly 440-cubic-inch (that’s 7.2-litre) Magnum V8 engine that made the Bullitt car so much faster than the Mustang that Charger stunt driver Bill Hickman had to keep slowing down in order to allow his pursuer to keep up.
With modern suspension components, upgraded brakes and steering, a fully rebuilt and balanced engine and an insulated, sound-deadening interior, the £147,000 car took 3,000 hours to complete and is said to be entirely usable in modern traffic.
And the icing on the cake is that, at 51 years old, the car benefits from “historic” status that exempts it from vehicle tax, MoT testing and (ironically) London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone charges, thus leaving the new owner with a bit of extra cash to spend on petrol – which the greedy Charger consumes at the rate of a gallon every 10 to 15 miles.
The firm, which also handcrafts bespoke luggage and wooden steering wheels to order, is further offering a tamer 316-cubic-inch/5.2-litre Charger from 1970, as well as a brace of Jaguar E-Types that are available to be bought with a view to being restored to the purchaser’s personal specifications.
One, a 1966 car, was acquired as new by a US Army sergeant stationed in Germany. Two years later it was wrecked in an accident, after which it was shipped home to America prior to being sold to a second owner who failed to get around to repairing it. The other E-Type, a 1969 coupe, is also a restoration job, having been parked in a garage 12 years ago and not used since.
Classic Investments says both projects offer potential buyers “the chance to immerse themselves in the experience of bringing an E-Type back to life…”