Monday, February 18, 2008

Trend of the moment

Trends in cars are just like trends in fashion - they change constantly but some how remain the same. How, you ask? Remember those large Elton Johnish sunglasses that the girls use to wear in High School? They came back around again. I have even seen a sudden outcropping of Izod shirts. You just were not cool in school unless you had that little alligator on your shirt. Anyone remember the flipped up collar shirt? Don't look now but I have seen evidence of it coming back. Yikes!

The latest trend in classic cars seems to be Patina. What is Patina you ask? In this case it refers to the condition of the outside of the car, mainly the paint.




Here is my example of patina.




This has even affected some of the major car auctions that happen across the United States. Last October, at the RM Vintage Motor Cars Auction in Hershey PA, a 1911 Oldsmobile Limited 7-passenger Touring Car sold for $1,650,000. That's right, 1.65 MILLION! Now sure, this is kind of a rare car, but paying out that kind of dough you would expect a museum piece. This car was the exact opposite. It looked like it was dragged out of a swamp! It looked worse then the car on the Beverly Hill Billies. Original, rotted tires, waisted paint, rust, etc. This thing was a total P.O.S. Ironically, a big part of the incredible value of this car was the fact that it had never been restored. The trend seems to be moving toward buyers paying more for untouched examples, sort of like buyers of fine art do.

If patina is in, then I'm about to save a crap load of money on painting my original project car, my 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It still wears it's original coat of factory paint. I think it's Marygold Yellow or something like that, but I call it piss yellow. My latest project is a brown 1971 Olds (see my "Tale of a modern car deal" post), so I refer to the cars as Number 1 and Number 2.
Patina comes in two different flavors, original and fake. The current rat rod trend has spawned a lot of "patina wanna-bees" - cars that didn't have patina to begin with so it was added by the owner. This is done via clever air brushing, purposing letting metal rust, and using old, weathered parts. The real McCoys are the ones that have original patina. I can see the ads now... "NOS Patina" or "OEM Patina".

True barn finds or time capsule cars are very hard to find now-a-days, even though you see a ton of ads on eBay and the like purporting to be a "true barn find". Like patina, these "finds" are also faked, right down to photographing the car in a so-called barn along with blown on dust, props, and letting the air out of the tires. Searching for barn finds to a collector is akin to panning for gold to a prospector. We both hope to find that rare "nugget".
Number 2 car was not a barn find, but rather a desert find. Desert cars are in a whole different category by themselves. Think of them as barn finds out in the open. From what I could gather, Number 2 was a high desert car all of it's life. That means not a lot of rain, lots of sun to dry things out, and wind to blow things out. The main difference that I have found between high desert cars and "low" desert cars is how bad their dried out. The lower desert gets a lot more heat and higher temperatures that tend to rot rubber and crystalize plastic parts. The high desert gets colder, stays cooler longer year round, and usually does not get quite as hot as the lower desert areas. Plus there is the wind factor. Windy conditions are good for drying out cars so moisture can't build up. Most desert cars are known for being rust free, and except for a few small exceptions, this one is too. I can hear the East coast people crying already. I'm curious if you could even find an original '71 intact on the East coast. I'm talking a daily driver, like mine, that has been driven on almost a daily basis it's entire life. No, I'm not a right-coast hater either. In fact, I have many cousins that live back East, Pennsylvania to be exact. Some day I'll make it back to St. Marys, Johnsonburg, or Wilcox... driving my rust-free Oldsmobile!

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