THE BOTTOM LINE
THERE’S BEEN A BIG SHIFT IN THE AUTOMOTIVE COMMUNITY, AND FULLY PAINTED VEHICLES AREN’T ALWAYS AS POPULAR AS THOSE THAT ARE LEFT UNTOUCHED. Patina trucks, or unrestored classics, have been stealing the show, and oddly, it has made them more popular than their shiny painted brethren at times. This is a striking development in car culture because the generally accepted wisdom was to keep vehicles super clean to prolong their lives or preserve their original glory.
“Preservation” is the key word here, but not in the way you might expect. For instance, there’s a “preservation class” at most Concours events where low-mileage, unrestored vehicles are celebrated for their unbelievable good condition. Concours events are the top of the mark when it comes to cars shows; they’re traditionally where the best of the best strut their stuff. Usually, automotive elitists bring the rarest and most elegant cars to Concours events to compete. Specially trained judges score a vehicle based on parts being “like original” or even better. In the past, bringing a non-shiny or even rusted vehicle was unheard of, but now it’s a major spectacle. The concept of preservation has been turned on its head.
The theory is that anyone can restore a vehicle, but finding an untouched gem is the real test. When it comes to shiny vehicles, there’s usually no way to tell if the owner used original equipment or reproduction pieces, if they’ve been refinished. Vehicles that have most of their factory pieces are more exciting than those that don’t because they are harder to come by. Often, untouched discoveries are made in old sheds and barns where the previous owner parked their vehicle to protect it from damage and corrosion, which is where the term “barn find” comes from. Most classic enthusiasts dream about barn finds, and finding one is like discovering hidden treasure.
Vehicles that show their age have more character. All of the dings, dents and rust add to a truck’s mystique and pay homage to its age. Anyone can repaint or chrome parts on an old truck, but once you do so, all of its history is wiped out. Restoration isn’t bad, but it does create a totally different truck. I’ve seen it many times at shows where people pass by restorations to check out a patina ride.
All of this reminds me of the tragedy of the sinkhole that occurred at the National Corvette Museum in 2014. Eight rare corvettes fell into the hole and were damaged. It was a heartbreaking event because so many historic cars were destroyed, although, GM helped out and restored three of the eight Corvettes. Some were completely gone, while others fared better, but now they’re all back on display to document what happened on that sad day. Originally, there was debate about whether any of the cars should be restored, and there were many advocates making a case to salvage and then leave them alone since the damage was part of their continuing story.
A compromise that left several of the vehicles untouched and a few restored caused the museum’s attendance to skyrocket. People wanted to see the damaged cars as much as they wanted to see the restored ’Vettes. The stories behind the cars are a huge part of their popularity.
It’s always a good idea to make sure all of the mechanical parts in a truck are working correctly, and if you can make improvements in that area, even better. It’s important to have a reliable and trouble-free driving experience.
Though some are happy with an all-original patina vehicle, we like to customize. Even though we don’t keep these gems completely intact, we do hold their original parts in high regard. Some of us would rather see a patina truck laying body or whipping around a track rather than just parked for display. I think taking a truck with battle scars and giving it a new life is a way of appreciating and accentuating its beauty.
Today, we can express our fascination for patina vehicles and their rich character with the same level of enthusiasm that we used to lavish on fully restored versions. Although you can try, there is no way to fake patina. Trying to do so creates a look known as “fauxtina,” and a lot of enthusiasts frown on it.
Having a survivor truck with a body that’s in good condition is a foundation for a unique build. People remember patina trucks because of the way they have weathered. It makes a lasting impression that’s unlike any other.
PHIL GERBER’S ’77 C-10 GRACING OUR COVER IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A SURVIVOR TRUCK THAT EMBRACES ITS AGE. OF COURSE, IT WAS DEFINITELY MADE COOLER WITH THE ADDITION OF A HOPPED-UP ENGINE AND AN AIRBAGGED CHASSIS.