There’s a common thread running through all Retropower projects, a commonalty evident in builds of cars of all kinds, from all eras and all budgets – the passion of the people charged with building them. Every single member of the Retropower stuff is hopelessly obsessed with old cars, and while we’re willing and able to turn this passion to creating unique machines for the enjoyment of our customers, we can’t help but have personal favourites. You know what we mean, those cars we’ve lusted after for most of our lives, the kind of cars we’d like to build for ourselves one day should our lottery numbers come up, or more likely, for a potential Retropower client with a similar taste in cars. So if you’re lucky enough to own one of the following and fancy booking it in for some Retropower TLC, then please, do get in touch.
Callum Sevior – BMW E9 Restomod
The first of several BMWs to grace this list, Callum’s long fancied an example of perhaps the ultimate ‘shark nose’ BM, the E9. These are rare cars with correspondingly high values these days, so it perhaps isn’t surprising that when you do to spot an example it’s invariably in the kind of concours condition it would’ve been in when first built. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really fit with the Retropower ethos of using modern tech, materials and construction techniques – which is why Callum’s dream E9 would be a restomod one.
“I’d want it to be a comfy, capable cruiser with a large, powerful, naturally aspirated engine, so probably either a BMW V8 or V10…or I might go all in and really upset the purists with an LS3!”
Tommi Healey – BMW 2002 Group 5
There’s something about a mid ’70s Group 5 race car that’s all but impossible to not love. You can put this down to the varied liveries, the unruly handling caused by basic suspension and rock-hard rubber, the ludicrously boosted engines belching flames with every shift, or the wild (yet relatively crude) aero packages, but they remain among the most charismatic of all racers.
The 2002 Turbos campaigned by Schnitzer Motorsport in 1977 were powered by tiny 1428cc four-pots making a whisper under 400bhp, and while a setup like this proved acceptable for both the DRM series and the standards of the day, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the combination of small capacity engine and massive, agricultural turbo would swiftly become something of a chore to live with on a semi-regular basis. To this end, Tommi’s dream 2002 racer would swap forced induction for a large capacity motor, probably the V10 from the E60 generation M5.
The finishing touch? A period correct race livery of course, and BMW competition cars of this era were graced with any number of iconic schemes, including the ’70s as hell Rodenstock one shown here.
Adam Manns – Jaguar E-Type Lightweight
This piece exists to stretch the boundaries of possibility to breaking point, then a little further, just to be on the safe side. This is just as well, as Adam’s choice of dream project would require the deepest of deep pockets and some serious connections to make a reality; a lightweight Jaguar E-Type powered by the 5.0 DOHC V12 from the XJ13. It says a great deal that the lightweight E-Type element of this potential project is actually the most achievable, but then there’s no denying the charm of the ultimate race iteration of Jaguar’s most iconic single model, “complete with lightweight Dunlop steel wheels and bare aluminium bodywork, naturally.”
“I’ve never thought a V8 the ‘right’ engine for the E-Type, so this one would have to be either straight six of V12 powered, and seeing as we’re dealing in the realms of dreams here, why not go all in and specify the twin cam twelve found in the lone XJ13, complete with individual throttle bodies.”
Rich Irving – Bike Engined Fiat Panda 4×4 ‘Sisley’
Proving that variety really is the spice of life, at least when it comes to Retropower staff members, Rich’s dream car is both effortlessly cool and incredibly practical, the 4×4 variant of the original Fiat Panda*. Famed for being both hard-as-nails and incredibly capable off-road, the Steya-Puch engineered 4×4 Pandas were once a common sight throughout Europe, often scaling comically vertiginous heights with mountain goat-esqu ease. Again though, this is a Retropower potential project and therefore a standard Panda was never going to cut the mustard. Instead, Rich plans on fitting his Panda with some a super bike engine of some kind, mated to the original all-wheel drive system of course.
*This isn’t strictly true. Rich’s first choice involved the very same XJ13 engine specified by Adam moments earlier, so in the interests of variety (and the merest tip of the hat to reality) we opted not to let him have it.
Jamie Arkle – Mid-Engined Audi Sport Quattro Group B
Audi found itself at something of a quandary as the 1980s ticked by, as while the firm had enjoyed immense initial success with its Quattro in 1983 and 1984, it had become abundantly clear that the car’s production roots, most obviously its front-engined layout, was a huge hinderance. This became even more apparent when the 205T16 debut and rather re-wrote the rulebook governing what a successful Group B should car should be able to do, and while Ingolstadt trialed ever more extreme variants of the Quattro as the decade progressed, all remained staunchly true to the road car concept of all-wheel drive and front-engined power.
There was one, incredibly murky exception to this rule however, a mid-engined Group B Quattro project cooked up and tested on the sly by a core of Audi Sport boffins lead by one Roland Gumpert. The working car was even tested at Desna, a secretive test facility located behind the iron curtain and out of sight of both the press and Audi top brass. Walter Rohrl drove the concept and pronounced himself satisfied with its performance over both the ‘long’ Quattro and the S1 and S1E2, but the German was never given the chance to drive it in anger; secretly taken images of the test were leaked to the press in 1985 and Audi’s board unceremoniously killed the project weeks later.
Jamie’s dream Retropower build would be a recreation of this nearly-but-not-quite, potentially world beating rally car.
Scott Aitkin – Chevette/Escort Millington
Scott’s passion for rallying is neatly reflected in his road car choice, with both his dream builds being seeped in special stage cool – a Mk2 Escort or a Vauxhall Chevette. Between them, these two rear-wheel drive icons made British, Group 4 rallying their own for much of the late ’70s and into the ’80s, making star drivers like Roger Clark, Ari Vatanen and Jimmy McRae household names.
History is all well and good, but motorsport and the technology which underpins it has never been content to stand still, hence why the Escorts and Chevettes competing at the sharp end of modern rallying are more capable than Messrs Mikkola and McRae could have even conceived of. Scott’s build would follow this route, regardless of it being Escort or Chevette shaped, and would be powered by one of the most potent NA engines to ever grace a special stage, the Millington Diamond. It’s an engine we’ve plenty of first hand experience of through our our Alfa Romeo GT Junior project, and one conceived, designed and built to allow rally cars to tear between Welsh pines at unhinged speeds.
Gaz Thompson – Audi S1E2 Quattro ‘Batmobile’
Another Group B Audi, albeit one with a less obvious link to gravel-chucking. Gaz’s ideal Quattro would be the S1E2, the ultimate iteration of the Group B cars, complete with 550bhp 20v five-pot, rear-mounted radiators and enough aerodynamic appendages to make a Eurofighter Typhoon blush. So far, so conventional, where Gaz’s dream differs is in appearance, this Quattro dispensing with the yellow and white livery of the original in favour of matt black paintwork, headlight covers and blacked out windows. It’s effectively a means of making perhaps the most menacing car ever rallied that bit more aggressive looking.
Marc Hipperson – Mercedes C63 AMG
A brand new car with a brand new V8, which isn’t really in line with the kind of cars we build here at Retropower, but you can’t help but admire his commitment to eight cylinder dramatics.
Rebecca Sevior – Mk1 Focus RS/WRC
A Mk1 Focus RS, just the one Ford should really have built all those years ago, which in this context means four-wheel drive, just like the World Rally variant. It might seem a little odd to be talking about the first gen Focus in the context of a retro car, but then then the earliest examples are now twenty years old – it really won’t be long before the first RS examples hit the same, significant barrier.
The RS was an important car for Ford of course, but it was also a slightly compromised one. Loads of performance (for the time) and great, rally-inspired looks were par for the course, but so too was torque steer thanks to a fairly basic Limited Slip ‘Diff. Our unlimited budget would of course allow us to devise any number of solutions to this problem, but why bother when the most complete and satisfactory solution is staring us right in the eye – a road going Focus WRC.
So there you have it, Rebecca’s dream, money-no-object Retropower build would be a Mk1 Focus WRC, complete with longitudinal seven-speed transmission, anti-lag and everything else associated with the cars driven by the likes of McRae, Sainz and Martin ‘back in the day.’
Stuart Gunn – Ford Mustang GT350
Our resident panel whisperer has long harboured an intense love for automotive Americana, something reflected in his dream Retropower creation, a late’ 60s Mustang. In line with many of our most popular and challenging undertakings, Stu’s dream Pony Car would be a restomod build, complete with a V8 of some kind, naturally, and the kind of custom touches which can be found throughout our projects. It’s worth pointing out that Stu most definitely has form when it comes to owning US muscle cars, with a ’74 Ford Galaxie, a Ford Grand Torino and a ’72 Ford LTD two-door having passed through his hands over the years.
Nat Sevior – LS9 Range Rover Classic/Milner LRM 1 V8
It should come as no surprise that both of Nat’s choices are off-roaders in various stages of extremity, one of which he already owns, the Range Rover Classic. It’s currently in the midst of being treated to a Mercedes OM606 straight-six diesel, a brilliant engine in its own right yet one also bound by real world concerns like fuel economy and usability. Seeing as this list makes no bones about realism, fuel economy or practicality, Nat has instead opted to go the whole hog and specify an LS9 V8. It’s either that or a home-built Milner LRM V8, just about the most capable means of crossing rough ground at speed money can buy.
Dean Mcconnell – W115 Mercedes Benz V8
Like several of the entries in this list, Dean actually already owns his dream car, or at least the basis for what he’d like it to eventually become, a W115 Mercedes. We’ve tackled a few ‘stack light’ Mercs over the last year or so thanks to the series of Project Kaiser builds, but this familiarity has in no way served to dilute the fundamental ‘coolness’ of Benzes from this era, and Dean’s has the potential to be a real cracker; think perfect paint, a custom interior of his own design and V8 power, either from one of Stuttgart’s own engines or via the tried and tested LS route.