Period perfection or pragmatic concession? As long as the car is appreciated and used, that’s fine with me, says Phil
Steve Coogan – comic genius, but ferociously serious about cars. The obsessive attention to detail that creates his onscreen characters spills over into the classics he enjoys for relaxation. So when Quentin Willson joined him for a day out in his latest acquisition, an early Jaguar E-type open two-seater (p42), conversation explored his influences and tastes, but inevitably it swirled around the detail of this car. What he has is a fine example that’s a pleasure to drive as is, but one that’s strayed from the exact state in which it left the Browns Lane factory in 1961. He has to decide whether to simply enjoy what he has, or spend a lot of time and money chasing a period-perfect ideal.
For Corrado Lopresto the decision about his 1935 Lancia Augusta (p94) seemed more straightforward. After all, this serial buyer of Italian one-offs chose the car because it has successfully dodged the hand of the refinisher, repairer, modifier and restorer through its long, charmed life. But even then, Lopresto’s desire to get it running and take it to concours events has forced him to wrestle dozens of subtle compromises between museum-mentality preservation and the pragmatism of use.
There were no philosophical dilemmas around the revitalisation of the Triumph Italia (p62). It had suffered so much trauma from accident damage and bodged repairs that comprehensive renewal was the only route to a satisfying result.
With so much well-informed and perfectionist restoration afoot it’s tempting to assume that too many classic cars these days are being turned into museum pieces, too precious to drive. I certainly hear that view often enough, so it was reassuring to trip over ECD 400 at the Royal Windsor Jaguar Festival in May. The fifth E-type built and the first to win a race, it was showing all of the signs of an authentic restoration, then lots of miles since.
I love seeing unrestored originals, mellowed softly by road miles, but I also delight in cars restored with obsessive levels of period detail. My own E-type is a blend of original spec and pragmatic concessions. As long as the cars aren’t stashed away, never to be appreciated, these various philosophies on classic ownership contribute interesting textures to our world. Enjoy the issue.
To restore and admire, or drive and enjoy? This is Steve Coogan’s new conundrum
Farina-bodied Lancia has layers of fascinating detail
Faithfully restored; well used