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Fancy something different? Meet the Derelicts

  1. According to Jonathan Ward, boss of California’s Icon Cars and mastermind of the “Derelict” idiom, these strangely alluring vehicles are all about Wabi-Sabi; a comprehensive Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience or impermanence. Or, in Top Gear English, celebrating some stuff that looks a bit knackered.

    The interesting thing about these careworn old things isn’t that they look ratty. They’re actually a complete reverse of our usual Top Gear style of engineering (ie, take something functional and make it completely impractical). The cars have been entirely reengineered with a modern chassis - featuring 21st century suspension, brakes, drivetrain and technology - so they can be pressed into daily service as useful transport.

  2. Take this Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Sports Coupe. Underneath the very original paintwork there’s a powder-coated Art Morrison chassis (complete with independent suspension), six-piston ABS brakes, 440hp GM LS3 fuel-injected V8, air conditioning, Bluetooth connection, completely restored interior, extensive sound deadening…

  3. It’s as well specced as a modern muscle car. Better in some places - there’s genuine Rolls Royce Wilton wool carpet on the floor - and because the bodywork’s already dinged and rusty (though there is a special coating to stop the metalwork getting worse), Jonathan thinks people will be less afraid to use it every day.

  4. “We’re getting rid of the charmingly archaic mechanical system where, to own [a classic] you feel like you have to be a martyr to it. The Derelicts are about having a viable daily driver with a timeless aesthetic.”

    Which explains why the engines aren’t too insane. Jonathan says: “We fit high performance motors, but they’re daily-driver friendly… We build high-performance cars, but we don’t want to build track cars that are a b**** to drive.”

  5. So, how do you go about marrying high performance technology to skid-row bodyshells? Jonathan says: “We find the patina’d virgin car then isolate the body.” Using lasers and some fiendishly complicated algorithms, Icon works out the best place to re-mount the body onto a modern chassis then has the entire underside fabricated. After that, the body’s re-fitted and work starts on refining the car’s innards.

  6. Inside, each car’s built to the customer’s specifications. This Chevrolet’s interior, for example, is trimmed in a material inspired by the alligator skin Hermes used to trim a briefcase for JFK in.

  7. Want one? You best get saving - the Styleline coupe cost $190k to put together. That’s £120,000. Crumbs.

  8. Approve of Jonathan’s interpretation of Wabi-Sabi? Then hit that alluring “like” button above…

    Now watch this rather lovely video about the Derelicts

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