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Don't trash that old heap in the garage, 'resto-mod' it

It looks like Xzibit is on to something.

The rapper's gig as host of MTV's "Pimp My Ride" has him promising redemption for vehicles that are past--sometimes way past--their prime. The show's premise is simple: Each half-hour episode of the show follows the transformation of a fan's car from eyesore to eye candy.

Xzibit's crew completely guts the inside of a car, replacing old, stock stereos with brand-name CD/DVD-player combos and top-of-the-line speaker systems. In one case, he even placed turntables in the back of a van.

Designed by Chip Foose, the Foose '69 is based on a 1969 Camaro and has a 350-horsepower V8 engine and five-speed manual transmission. It is available in coupe or convertible body styles and includes a CD player with optional DVD, four-point roll bar, Jaguar door handles, navigation system and a $124,000 price tag.
Credit: Unique Performance

As noted in a story we found at, the market for restored--or "resto-modded"--cars is relatively healthy and populated by collectors lusting after classic American car bodies that have been stuffed with the latest technology.

Resto-mod specialists such as Time Machines in Florida and Texas-based Unique Performance equip old, sometimes failing cars with engines, transmissions, suspension, steering components and other up-to-date parts from modern sports cars like the V10-powered Dodge Viper.

During the resto-mod process, the shells of older cars of modest value are made to resemble more expensive models of their era. On the inside, they're improved with amenities such as 10-disc CD players and air-conditioning systems.

The Baldwin-Motion Phase III Camaro started as an ordinary 1969 Camaro. Heavily modified, it includes a 600-horsepower Big-Block engine with four-barrel carburetor (supercharger or turbocharger is optional). Options include a choice of three custom wheel designs, a six-CD changer, tilt steering wheel, and a leather interior with custom dash and console. The price: $189,000.
Credit: Baldwin-Motion

Unique Performance finds older Mustangs with bodies that are in good shape, even if they no longer run. The shells are made to look like the original GT350 or GT500 models. Underneath the hood, the modders install a 325-horsepower engine with electronic fuel injection.

Craig Jackson, president of Barrett-Jackson, a collector-car auction company in Arizona, decided to have his 1969 Camaro restored by Unique as a safety measure.

"After scaring myself a few times by not handling through the corners I decided to resto-mod the car," he told CNNMoney.

The story also points out that such conversions are not for those on tight budgets. A full restoration and upgrade can cost from $150,000 to $250,000.