The 1950's decade was a time when the major sports car manufacturers went racing. Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lancia, Mercedes Benz & Maserati all attached as much importance to sports car racing as they did to the single seater, open wheeled formula. Smaller outfits such as Lister, Lotus, Cooper & many others also contested the world sports car championship. Individual enthusiasts & engineering companies, designed, modified & built specialist cars , very often copying the style of the successful racers & utilising the mechanical components of the major car manufacturers, predominantly Ford.
I became interested in sports/racers of this era whilst building a Mazda MX5 based kit car with bodywork that replicated the style of those cars. The current kit car industry is very much akin to the specials era of the 1950's. Talented designers develop & produce kits. Small workshops & home builders strip donor cars & assemble the kits , There are many skilled engineers creating some outstanding vehicles.
During the past few years, the "re-body" kit has become popular. With this type of kit car, the mechanical components of a donor are not stripped ; - usually only the outer body panels. The structural integrity of the base car remains intact & in most cases, the end product is not required to be subjected to the Individual Vehicle Approval ( IVA ) test.
Several manufacturers offer panel kits which do not replace all the outer panels of a car but still manage to facelift the vehicle, sometimes in a retro style but also , frequently as a look-a-like of a modern supercar.
On the home page of " Retro Car Style " we offer, what is probably, the simplest way to change the appearance of a Mazda MX5 Mk2 or Mk2.5 from a contemporary sports car to the style of a "fifties" roadster.
In the UK, we are allowed the freedom to create special vehicles , albeit these activities are , ( rightly ) regulated & checked. But what does the future hold ? How & when will the introduction of autonomous cars impact the enjoyment of driving vehicles that are our pride & joy ? In fifteen to twenty years time will there only be electric vehicles on public roads ? Will Vintage, Veteran & Classic vehicles be restricted to off-road use at " driving experience " venues, maybe in the grounds of stately homes or airfields ? Motor trade & industry associations will lobby strongly to delay change. Who knows ; electric vehicles which require the burning of fossil fuels, gas or wooden pellets for the generation of their power source, might just be deemed to be environmentally unfriendly one day ?
If you want to get maximum enjoyment from a classic car, kit car or any other form of "special" car, it's probably best to get your skates on ! Skates ? They will probably be banned on Health & Safety grounds !