Would You Modify a Rare Car?

By Colin Wood
Feb 16, 2021 | Ford, Consul Capri

It doesn’t matter if you are fitting aftermarket wheels or hanging fuzzy dice on the mirror, modifications are modifications—especially if they help express who you are.

In all those modifications, however, is it ever possible to go too far down that path—especially when it comes to rare cars?  Take, for instance, the Ford Consul Capri, essentially the coupe version of the British-produced Consul Classic sedan–less than 20,000 examples of the Consul Capri were ever built.

Considering that so few remain, some people might want to keep one totally stock so that it can be “preserved” for future generations.

Nadeem Khan is not one of those people.

Read more about his modified Ford Consul Capri over on Classic Motorsports, and let us know what rare car you want to modify—or have modified for that matter.

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View comments on the GRM forums
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/15/21 3:09 p.m.

If you are preserving it for future generations, you don't really own it. You're just giving it a place to live and the future owners have control over the car.

And hey, now it's 1 of 1 instead of 1 of 20,000. It's MORE rare.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/15/21 3:14 p.m.

20,000 built is not rare. Uncommon maybe, but not rare.

A little more than 8000 Volvo 1800ES models were built, yet we seem to celebrate modifying those here.  My own plans for mine include extensive modifications, although with some eye towards the ability for a future owner to return it to original if desired.  But if someone wants an all original 1800ES, they aren't difficult to find and mine needs so much metal replacement it will never be "original" anyway, so I see it as a blank slate to do what I want.

Tom1200 SuperDork
2/15/21 3:17 p.m.

I'd do it if could easily be put it back. 

Of course rare doesn't always mean anything, my Datsun 1200 is rarer than the 240Z and the 510 but obviously far less collectable.  That is a factor in my willingness to modify  a car.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
2/15/21 3:25 p.m.

I'm modifying a Quantum Syncro (1 of 3800), so... yes?


Questions of value come in to play too, not just monetary value but historical value and utility value.  Rare sometimes just means nobody bought them.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/15/21 3:28 p.m.

I've actually decided not to buy my unicorn in large part because a big portion of its value is the heritage. So I'd just be a caretaker, and I don't want to be a caretaker for someone else's car.

2/15/21 3:31 p.m.

I'm gonna have to go with a hard  YES on this one...

About 8000 made and I killed two to make this one. 

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/15/21 3:31 p.m.

I have, and did again. 

The acr pictured is done with ALL period correct bolt ons. Except for porting. Thats a bit more than bolt on. Regardless, except for the stereo none of the parts were not available in 1999.

However,  it can be put back to stock pretty easily. 

Its also supposedly one of less than 10 lapis blue acrs left. 

So, yeah. Rare. And modified. 

MrFancypants Reader
2/15/21 3:38 p.m.

It depends. I generally don't care to modify my cars in a way that can't be easily reversed. If I had something really rare I might consider bolt on modifications just for fun as well as be able to store and preserve the original parts (basic stuff like wheels, exhaust, suspension components, etc).

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/15/21 3:48 p.m.

That's my M.O.



dps214 HalfDork
2/15/21 4:13 p.m.

If we're counting 1 of 20k as rare, then probably everyone on this forum has modified a "rare" car at some point in their life.

Vajingo Reader
2/15/21 4:18 p.m.

Hell yes I would. A vehicle is a car first, and art second. I believe we should drive all vehicles until they return back to the earth.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
2/15/21 5:45 p.m.

I would do whatever I damn well please to any car I own. 

If purists have a problem with it, I couldn't care less. I don't buy cars to make money later on them, I buy cars to make them the way I want them and then drive them. So I have no regard for whether or not things I do to them increase or decrease their resale value. However, if someone wants to drive a stock rare vehicle around with no modifications, I'm fine with that too (since it's their car and that's what they like). 

Now, people who sock away a bone-stock "rare" car for decades and never drive it, in hopes that it will be worth more someday, are boring, sad people.

Incidentally, the rarest car I've owned (Triumph GT6+), there were only 12,000 total built over three years. Mine was not even remotely close to stock. 



TVR Scott (Forum Supporter)
TVR Scott (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/15/21 5:58 p.m.

1 of 947.  Consider me in the "Yes" crowd.

But then again, the car was hacked and beaten when I bought it.  I wouldn't have done this to a running driving model.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/15/21 6:01 p.m.

1 out of 1200 made. Does that count as rare? laugh Only way to tell it's an R package is to call Mazda with the VIN, everything that made it "special" is gone.

Appleseed MegaDork
2/15/21 6:11 p.m.

Yes. If its metal, it can be put back to stock if the next owner desires. 

Remember, they made this hulk airworthy. Anything is possible with time and money. 

AaronT Reader
2/15/21 6:35 p.m.
dps214 said:

If we're counting 1 of 20k as rare, then probably everyone on this forum has modified a "rare" car at some point in their life.

Mazda only sold about 20,000 Miatas (in Emerald Mica), so yeah, I am part of the swashbuckling rare car mod crowd!

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/15/21 6:38 p.m.


they're only original once, LOL

tr8todd SuperDork
2/15/21 6:57 p.m.

They made roughly 400 tr8 coupes. I own 6 of them, and wrecked two others on the race track.  The 6 I have now are all modified, so it's pretty easy to see where I stand.  My cars, so I get to do what I want to them.

Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter)
Gearheadotaku (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/15/21 6:59 p.m.

Its not just how many were made, but how many are left, and in what condition.  And of course everyone has their own opinion what "rare" means.

My opinion:

If a car fits your meaning of rare and is in good shape, it is best left stock or easily returned to stock.

I don't mind a rare car thats in bad shape or was highly modified in the past being changed further. Sometimes this can save a car.


Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/15/21 7:05 p.m.

I pondered this question for a while.  I'm a major fan of resto-mods and pro-touring cars.  Care almost not at all for anything stock.

I tried to think of any car I wouldn't alter.  Only thing I came up with was the original McLaren F1... but then I would put modern tires on it.  wink

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/15/21 7:06 p.m.

If it was rare and valuable.. probably not...

but if it was rare and relatively worthless? sure!


wheels777 UltraDork
2/15/21 7:27 p.m.

Rare for the wrong reason does not add any value.  I had a 1 of 9 car that was worthless.  I also had a 1 of 113 car that was stupid valuable.  Rare because no one bought it originally is not a good driver for value.  

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/15/21 8:14 p.m.

One thing about the Consul Capri that makes it pretty rare is the low survival rate, not necessarily that they only made 20k of them. Almost like Ford GB got into a discussion with the Italians about rusty cars and went "hold my lukewarm beer and watch this".

i own two rare vehicles = the Maxton (1 of 50-ish) and an Italian bike with an unknown but low (estimated less than 100 made). Neither of them is modified- the Maxton might see some potentially reversible improvements, though.

Mass produced vehicles are fair game, and doubly so if the mods are reversible. 

Tom1200 SuperDork
2/15/21 8:21 p.m.

My F500 is the 3rd Novakar built, there were only 6 cars made in the first series...........I've modified it.

I'm in the camp of it's my car and I shall do as I please.

Boost_Crazy Dork
2/15/21 8:23 p.m.

I have no problems modifying a rare car. My Galant VR4 was bone stock when I bought it in 2000. It was a good car stock, one of the faster 4 door sedans in the early '90's. But the suspension was soft, and it rode on 15" tires. I added another 100+ HP, greatly improved the suspension, swapped out the 15's for 17's with wider tires. I removed the still functioning rear wheel steering and added a stronger limited slip rear end. The car was transformed from a pretty fast sedan from the early '90's to a fast car period. To me, there would be no point to owning it stock other than to say "neat, this is what cars were like back then." It's so much better with even simple mods.  I did try to keep it as stock looking as possible, but that was more to satisfy my want to keep it a sleeper rather than some commitment to keeping it stock. I kept all of the stock parts, but I didn't hesitate to do a few irreversible mods to the bumper support and sheet metal to fit a larger intercooler and piping. These are kind of weird in that they are so much rarer than other '90's cars, and crazy capable with actual racing pedigree (they are homologation cars after all) but they were so off the radar then that they are still off the radar, they have not appreciated as well as other cars of the era. A couple nice stock ones have sold for a fair amount, but so have nice modded ones. None have sold at prices that would push me towards selling mine, so I'll do what I want to it and enjoy it. 

My other rare car is a '95 M Miata. It has suffered under the CA sun for years and is getting a paint job soon. I'll be keeping it the stock color, but not because it's rare. Because I like It, and don't want to deal with a color change. It's stock, but only because I enjoy it stock and it's down my list on my cars to modify. It does need some big time help in the HP department though, which will be addressed when the time comes. It's only stock now because I couldn't bring myself to spend money to add HP only a couple at a time, the VR4 spoiled me a bit. It needs forced induction or an engine swap. 

I guess another of my cars is rare too. 2005 Legacy GT Wagon. I kept it stock because I bought it new and it was my daily driver. Building the engine now, because Subaru. Mild mods, adding 50 to 100 HP, depending which way I go with the turbo. Keeping it stock and sleeper looking. 

What makes a rare car? Production numbers, or how many are left? To be rare in my opinion, it has to be significantly different (better) than the common version. I don't like counting colors or trim options as rare, unless it's significantly different from the common cars and not easily duplicated. I don't really see the '95 M Miata as rare. It's got a rare color and a couple rare trim parts. The Galant VR4 was rare when new, and many of the new ones were stripped down to build rally cars. It is significantly different from the regular Galant, doesn't even share the same floor pan. But by the numbers, my wagon may be even more rare- if you count the manual transmission version as separate from the auto. I read 1461 turbo manual wagons built for US and Canada combined. Not as rare if you count the auto. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/15/21 8:32 p.m.

There's rarity, and there's desirability. They're not always synonymous. 

I daily a very rare car.  I doubt that anyone would care what I did with it. 

jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter)
jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter) Reader
2/15/21 9:29 p.m.
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) said:

I pondered this question for a while.  I'm a major fan of resto-mods and pro-touring cars.  Care almost not at all for anything stock.

I tried to think of any car I wouldn't alter.  Only thing I came up with was the original McLaren F1... but then I would put modern tires on it.  wink

100% Agree with this. Since the first car rolled off the first assembly line, true enthusiasts have looked at them as a starting point, not some gold standard to be preserved.  I count myself a member of that group.  I respect historically important cars, and enjoy seeing rare cars restored to showroom condition.  But I’ve never owned a car I didn’t feel comfortable with modifying and customizing.

Also, scouring the earth for super rare concours-correct hose clamps and bolts will never be my idea of fun.

Tom1200 SuperDork
2/15/21 9:36 p.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

Heritic........how dare you modify that car.

RichardSIA HalfDork
2/15/21 9:55 p.m.

I'm all over the map on this.

Land Rover 101 Forward Control ex Missile Carrier is carefully preserved.

Spitfire 1500 will remain mostly stock, except for wheels, paint, and the Weber 40DCOE carb.

68 El Camino will retain, um, the original cab and bed, maybe the doors. Everything else is being modified or replaced. It was rusting in the front fenders and rear quarters when I got it. Also was not nearly so valuable in stock form ten years ago.

Lotus Europa was somewhat modified when I got it, my plan is to mostly freeze mods at what was done when it raced hill-climb/Auto-X over twenty years ago.

Most of the rest of my pile will either be heavily modified or built from scratch.

Except the TR6, that one has to be a purely original restoration.

bmw88rider (Forum Supporter)
bmw88rider (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/15/21 10:42 p.m.

All 3 of the cars at the house are considered rare and all of them have mods either already installed or planned. 

1 of 3000 94 M edition Miata. Basically everything has been touched at least once.

1 of unknown remaining 1990 Eagle Summit ES. I haven't seen one in over a decade. It'll get a turbo sometime this year and about 220 HP

1 of not many 2001 GSR sedans. Even less in Beige. Mild mods. 


Soooo.....Yes. 2 out of 3 are low miles even. The summit and miata have under 65K miles.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/15/21 10:57 p.m.
Tom1200 said:

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

Heritic........how dare you modify that car.

Actually, it's so stock that the only modifications that I can think of are a K&N panel filter and some braided brake lines. Nothing that even counts in our world as modifications. 

My point is the rarity (high) vs. desirability (low). 

ShawnG UltimaDork
2/15/21 11:32 p.m.

Define modify.

I built a motor contactor for a one-of-six 1913 H.A. Moyer because we didn't have and couldn't find the original.

I've put BBC pistons into a 1915 Sears Model L Runabout because they were the right size and much better than the originals.

I've built a adapter to put a Chevy truck master cylinder in one-of-19 (approximately) 1924 Diana Light 8 because the cup in the original kept moving out of place and causing total brake failure.

We regularly modify babbitt bearing engines to take insert bearings.

We modify customers cars to make them more reliable for touring but we would never do something that would harm the value of the car.

"rare" is 2500 production and under. No playing silly buggers like "I have the only Chevy Citation in salmon pink with a forest green interior", 2500 of a model in a given year, period.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/15/21 11:44 p.m.

The best-selling car of all time is the Toyota Corolla. 


I believe that if that's not an indictment, that it's at least a strong suggestion, to modify rare things. 

2/16/21 3:21 a.m.

I would never want to do it. 

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/16/21 5:57 a.m.

Harley Davidson brakes on a 1913 Stanley

Edit: thought about it, I believe that it was a 1911 model.

I took the picture on my way to the top of Mount Washington. 

He drove it to the top, so yes, "This car climbed Mount Washington."

Without that modification, he wouldn't have been able to get back down the mountain safely. 

If the modifications keep a rare car drivable, then it's fulfilling it's purpose. 

TheRX7Project HalfDork
2/16/21 6:32 a.m.

It depends on a few things, but mostly yes.

I'd have a hard time doing any "hard" mods (stuff that can't be swapped back) to anything that is already nice. That is a bigger factor for me. A "survivor" car deserves to be left alone until it can't- then it's game on. It's only original once.

Chris_V UberDork
2/16/21 7:11 a.m.

Depends on the car, and if it's valuable, are there any stock examples left in museums or collections. Cars like an original 250 GTO? Not a chance. That Consul Capri? Of course I would. A '37 Talbot Lago T150c with body by Figoni et Falaschi? No way. (but I would modify the crap out of the Talbo replica of that car).

This I would leave stock:

But this? I absolutely love this full custom, rare Cadillac:


wspohn SuperDork
2/16/21 1:49 p.m.

I radically modified a couple of rare cars to make them into race cars. TVR Grantura Mk 3 (IIRC 70 made but Scott can correct me if I am wrong) and MGA Twin Cam (c. 2000 made).  And then there was my Jensen CV8 (500 made) with big block sixpack engine, and........

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/16/21 1:51 p.m.


Talk to Trent about modifying old Ferraris. I seem to recall heater pipes made from plumbing parts :)

Mr_Asa UltraDork
2/16/21 3:00 p.m.

1 of ~1000, no clue how many are surviving, only thing going to keep me from going overboard with it is Dad wants it to be somewhat original.  Even he wants more rubber and different wheels and brakes though. 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/16/21 3:15 p.m.

Yes with caveats. If it's genuinely desirable but rough, I figure that anything is an improvement and fair game for mods. If it's a POS (Think Chevy Vega, Chevette or almost anything from the malaise period), fair game. If it's a rare classic in good shape, all mods need to be reversible.  But that's just me. If you want to chop up your one-of-a-kind Hispano-Suisa, I'll call you a cad and a philistine -  just not to your facelaugh 

calteg Dork
2/16/21 3:23 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I really miss the steering feel of my R package. Level of feedback was on par with my Elise

Boost_Crazy Dork
2/17/21 12:18 a.m.

In reply to ShawnG :

"rare" is 2500 production and under. No playing silly buggers like "I have the only Chevy Citation in salmon pink with a forest green interior", 2500 of a model in a given year, period.

Not more than 30 minutes after I read your post, I was watching "Flipping Bangers" on T.V. Not a Chevy, but does a salmon over green Skoda count?


Tom1200 SuperDork
2/17/21 1:17 p.m.
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) said:
Tom1200 said:

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

Heritic........how dare you modify that car.

Actually, it's so stock that the only modifications that I can think of are a K&N panel filter and some braided brake lines. Nothing that even counts in our world as modifications. 

My point is the rarity (high) vs. desirability (low). 

Mmmmm you're still a heretic............a sin is a sin.

On a serious note I understand completely as I own a rarely collectable car.

Tk8398 Reader
2/17/21 5:45 p.m.

Modify to enjoy it more sure, but probably reversible.  Intentionally ruin or make permanent modifications that are done poorly no.  I don't get the UK banger racers who intentionally look for rare cars to destroy because they get more enjoyment out of it.

jimbbski SuperDork
2/17/21 6:00 p.m.

I owned a 1993 Mustang Cobra R  which was 1 of 107 made by Ford.

I modified the hell out of it because "race car".

Ford built it to be raced and I raced it.

OF the mods I did most could be undone to some extent.

The first owner installed a roll cage so holes were drilled to install that.

I installed a panhard bar and that was welded in.

I also installed a torque arm style rear suspension.

On the outside it was still 99% stock but engine/trans mods and suspension mods were extensive.


Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/17/21 7:22 p.m.

In reply to jimbbski :

For that car in particular, I'm much more in favor of the modifications that it received and the use of it as a racecar (as intended) than if it sat in a climate controlled garage with 19 miles on it. 

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