Patina Or Not…
Patina. It’s been a pretty popular word in hot rodding over the past few years. And it makes sense, right? The holy grail of hot rodding has always been the barn find. A piece of untouched history sitting in the same form it sat so many years ago. It’s comparable to a time capsule only cooler, because patina is proof of survival. And there are some pretty amazing examples out in the world owned by guys dedicated to keeping them in the same condition they were found in.
The first that comes to my mind is the Tom Orren ’29 roadster that Steve Wertheimer is caretaking. It’s just a perfect example of what a very talented fabricator was capable in the 1940′s and 50′s. Steve’s concerned expression at the Hot Rod Revolution over an original and now lost bolt responsible for holding the seat down made me feel good… Steve is just the perfect survivor owner in that he is meticulous in care, but dedicated to making sure the car gets seen by as many folks as possible. His 2000 mile round trip (H.A.M.B. Drags to the Salt to the Hot Rod Revolution to the Primer Nats) to showcase the car over the summer is just further proof of his intentions. Love.
Of course, the most famous survivor is most likely the Ed Iskenderian ’24 roadster. While it has gone through a slight restoration, all efforts were taken to leave the car as original as possible. Everything from the Maxi-overhead converted flathead to the tires remain untouched and original. The fact that this car was built in 1940 as a daily driver makes it even more impressive. I’m not sure who owns the car, but I do know it sits in the NHRA museum today. I would much rather see it out in the element being enjoyed by the folks that truly understand the value of such a car, but who can really argue…
There are countless other examples out there of survivors and each teach us something new regardless of whether or not the car is a well known piece. To me, that is the real glory of a survivor. Not a lot of folks in this world can or should own a historic and original car. It takes a special kind of person. For the rest of us, there is the educational…
And that is where I had planned to end this particular blog entry, but then I began to think of the Bruce Meyer’s and the Don Orosco’s of the world. Guys that take some of the most significant hot rods and kustoms ever built and restore them to a level of craftsmanship and quality that they never saw in their first life. It wasn’t that long ago when I thought these deeds were less than honorable from a historical standpoint. However, after experiencing a few first hand it’s impossible for me not to appreciate these cars.
The obvious example here is the Doane Spencer roadster. Like a lot of folks, I’m of the opinion that this car is most likely the most well proportioned ’32 ever built. The question remains though – Did the budgetless and absolutely 100 point restoration funded by Meyer have any effect on my declaration? After getting the opportunity to sit in the car a few years back, I’m not sure I care. The important part (read: the soul) of this car remains. The restoration actually helps the gawking bystander understand the car and its purpose.
Then there is the So-Cal ’34 restored by Don Orosco. This restoration goes even further than the Meyer example above in that Don literally had to reproduce many of the parts to complete the job. The car had been active racecar for years, so many of the original parts had been cast off or lost. It would be a challenge to guess how much of this car is actually original, but the spirit is there. In person, the car to speaks to you and the restoration absolutely does not take away from the experience. It’s simply gorgeous and I for one believe this car deserves to be seen in this state.
I guess this conversation wouldn’t be complete without also touching the subject of fabricated patina. The joy that all of the cars mentioned above brought to so many lead to some folks trying to recreate that feeling with their own cars. It never works… for me anyway, but I do love the fact that there are lessons learned. That we are using tradition to grow.
Shit man… I love traditional hot rods… Don’t you?