December 14, 2018

VIN-ing and winning: continuation cars by numbers

Whilst manufacturers have been producing run-on examples of popular models for decades, the market for these vehicles has risen in recent years with re-births of historic models from global manufacturers capturing the attention of more than just the classic car world.

Despite some confusion, continuations are not replicas. Continuation cars must be officially sanctioned by the manufacturer, if not built by the same factory or craftsmen that built them in period.

Here is the Footman James run down of some notable highlights of continuation cars.

Aston Martin

The DB4GT could be deemed a continuation of a continuation.  When original DB4 GT values soared in the 1980s, Aston Martin released four further vehicles with unused chassis numbers from the factory, which were known as the DB4GT ‘Sanction II’.

Fast forward to 2016, when Aston revealed they would build a further 75 examples on chassis numbers beginning where the original vehicles ended. Identical to the earlier cars, the continuations are powered by the Tadek Marek designed straight six engine, enjoying around 350bhp. Unlike the original cars, these are track-only vehicles, however Aston will give their Works Driver Training program to all buyers, and even host race events for the cars.

For those not so track focused, Aston Martin announced a run of 25 official builds of the James Bond Goldfinger DB5, complete with full 007 style gadgetery. Although these vehicles will not be legal for use on the road due to the aforementioned accessories, the success of recent non-road legal continuations means Aston Martin expects these to be in global demand.

Jaguar Classic

The heritage arm of Jaguar Land Rover has mined its rich (and profitable) vein of unused chassis numbers over the last three years, releasing a trio of show stopping runs of continuations that have been instant successes.

Lightweight E Type

Jaguar rocked the classic racing world back in 2016, announcing the build of a further six examples of their fabled lightweight E Type. With only 12 of the original 18 chassis having left the production line by 1964, this has allowed Jaguar to use the remaining numbers over 40 years later.

Fully eligible for historic competition use as a 1963 vehicle, and powered by an engine that according to Jaguar pushes out ‘in excess of 300bhp’, these were immediately pre-sold to committed fans and are now found on the world’s most exclusive grids.

XKSS

Following the Le Mans wins, Jaguar had the idea to export 25 D Types to the US, converted to road specification.  Just 16 were completed when a fire destroyed nine cars, along with the factory itself, meaning Jaguar can re manufacture nine chassis to the original specifications in 2016. All sold out immediately.

D Type

With the success of the E Type and the XKSS continuations, Jaguar then relaunched their greatest racing icon of all time, the triple Le Mans winning D Type.

Jaguar announced the production of the 25 unrealised chassis back in February 2018, available with the long or short nose bodies (the long nose carries the iconic fin) of the original cars. Like the other two Jaguar continuations, these will not be legal for road use in the UK, but they should be eligible for historic racing.

Lister

In 2015, Lister Cars announced a run of ten road going continuations of the iconic Knobbly, taking advantage of the IVA low volume production rules. A 300bhp, Jaguar-derived engine, with a weight of just 787kg, moves the Knobbly from 0-62mph in just four seconds, making this is a 50-year-old design that will embarrass many a modern supercar.

The Lister Costin was designed in period as an improvement to the already successful Knobbly by Frank Costin.  It was lighter, more aerodynamic and more powerful than the racer it replaced and was a great success on circuits, which will surely be matched by the 2018 continuation examples.

Porsche

Unveiled in 2018, Project Gold was a very public demonstration of the capabilities of Porsche Classic, perhaps in response to the increase in popularity of ‘resto mod’ examples from independent outfits. Project Gold used the last original shell and only unused number from the run of original Porsche 911 ‘993’ Turbo S chassis. A brand new vehicle, but to the spec of the original, it was auctioned by RM Sothebys in October for £2.4 million, a remarkable figure for a vehicle that can never be road legal.

Whilst the debate about what constitutes a continuation versus a replica will continue to rage, and the debate over replica racing which should be left for another day, the ever-increasing popularity of historic racing events such as Goodwood makes it is unlikely that this trend for continuation cars will slow any time soon. Whether or not we will we see a ‘new build’ Ferrari 250 GTO joining the grid in the future remains to be seen, but this current run of models is surely just the beginning of the trend.

What do you think of continuation cars, do you own an original that has been rebirthed into a continuation car? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.