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Etiquette of the Survivor

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by J.Ukrop, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. J.Ukrop
    Joined: Nov 10, 2008
    Posts: 844

    Staff Member

    J.Ukrop submitted a new blog post:

    Etiquette of the Survivor

    Continue reading the Original Blog Post
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  2. RainierHooker
    Joined: Dec 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,911

    from Tacoma, WA

    You've hit the nail on the head of my current project. Its a 1950's built Model A Drag car, that appears to have been hung up while being 'updated' for the next season, probably around '58. It has quirks, it has patina, it had a mummified rat behind the dash, it had a stuck motor. Now I'm treading those careful lines between getting it back on the strip, preserving the car for what it was, and trying to make it mine without overdoing it.
  3. straykatkustoms
    Joined: Oct 30, 2001
    Posts: 7,533


    The only other Kustom that I would want to purchase would be a "survivor" Kustom. I love your Edsel the way she sits. You have been blessed to own a kustom with kool history. I would imagine driving it around you could only imagine the stories it could tell.

    If you choose to restore it I would do it as is because if you make it your own you will lose all of the Kustom history. If you want to build it to make it your own I would start with a different car. I applaud people like Moriarity and McCormick that restore the Kustom without losing the kustom History.

    Thanks for sharing the pics.
  4. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,796


    If I was lucky enough to come across a survivor Kustom or Hot Rod, I would fix/correct the mechanicals as needed, clean it up, minimum restoration, drive it, show it and enjoy it. I would only purchase something that I like how it looked originally, no basket cases for me, I would respect the history of the car.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
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  5. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 11,413

    Staff Member

    Never ever would I try to make a survivor my own. especially if it lasted decades without further modification. Changing one to suit the current owners taste is just like tearing pages out of the history books. In my opinion the ones with cracked paint, rust, pitted chrome and worn interiors deserve to be restored. Our hobby has always been about making cars look and perform better, and this whole patina craze goes against that in my book, and I just do not understand it. I can see showing a car a few times as found but for crying out loud please return it to its former glory for future generations to enjoy
  6. Jim Hassad
    Joined: Aug 9, 2015
    Posts: 31

    Jim Hassad

    I have "lived" this roadster for all of my 66 years now. Sure, the few cosmetic changes I have made were to please me, but I always intended to highlight the engineering my father did when he created the car. You decide which "look" is your favorite!


  7. Arominus
    Joined: Feb 2, 2011
    Posts: 328


    Those are 65 chrysler headlight covers for sure. I've still got a few sets laying around, we had a problem with 65's for a while. I'm swimming in 65 c-body parts.
  8. RainierHooker
    Joined: Dec 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,911

    from Tacoma, WA

    That's the fine line I'm talking about with my drag car. Where is that line drawn?

    Do I return it to "its former glory" even if that means "fixing" previous poor bodywork? If I have to replace the wiring and rotten plywood dash that the rat ate, do I do it exactly as it was, or in such a way as to get rid of the fire hazards and poor materials choices? I couldn't find any materials to match the deteriorated and damaged interior, but I did find some that match in era and style, but in different colors.

    Granted, my car is a no-name, unknown, low-buck drag car that was abandoned when undergoing a transformation. I think that gives me a little more leeway than if it was a known little-book cover car.

    In the end, I think that survivors deserve to survive the way that they survived in their previous life, but some minor changes that make the car usable now and for the future are warranted.
    brad2v and Sancho like this.
  9. missysdad1
    Joined: Dec 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,269


    Those enthusiasts of the current era have no "button" to be pushed by these old rods and customs, tending to see them as little more than mere "examples" of a bygone era. But for those of us who actually saw them on the street, at the drags, at the car shows and most importantly in the magazines of the '40s, '50's and '60s these cars spark memories far beyond mere recognition. The sighs, sounds, smells, relationships and good times of our youth are one with these "survivors" in a way that no "youngster" can understand or relate to. If the concept of time travel is real, it is the discovery of yet another 4-wheeled "portal into the past" that sends us on our way.
  10. Kevin Lee
    Joined: Nov 12, 2001
    Posts: 7,369

    Kevin Lee
    Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Moriarity – The one caveat I would add is: research and know what you're doing. To me you are a gold standard for this. But depending on the car it might be better to let something survive as a "patina car" so someone more qualified can give it a proper restoration down the line... versus getting a shitty restoration with the wrong paint, etc.
    falcongeorge, rod1 and Moriarity like this.
  11. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 2,784

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.

    001 (4).JPG
    I'm with you Moriarity.
    I do still own an drive the hotrod I built for highschool an got running in 1959,so understand I really liked the 50s an 60s,did lots shows in Florida, only a few Ga. In my case,being I still drive her. I like what I did the first time,so have done very few updates,yet going gen. to alt. now and chrome headers plus a folding top are about the only things my buddys from the 50s an 60s would note as being added.
    The patina thing,an flats were only temp tell the shiny,are only things we fixed then ASAP. So to me its disrepect not fixing them. But yes I am good with making drivible an pretty cool as they were intened.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  12. Couldn't have put it better. For me, 'Patina' is just the code word for 'too broke/lack of skills to bring appearance up to standards'. With that said, the featured car probably wouldn't get a 'full' restore if I owned it as the current chrome plating bill to redo all the needed plating would be beyond my not-so-deep pockets. But enshrining years of neglect is not a fit tribute IMO for any hot rod or custom, nor is slavishly duplicating poor engineering done originally.
  13. RainierHooker
    Joined: Dec 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,911

    from Tacoma, WA

    I agree wholeheartedly, but I think the crux of the thread is where you draw that line.

    A deteriorated Watson paint job is still a Watson. Restoring it makes it mearly a recreation of an original, and takes away from the car's history. A few scratches, and I'd say leave it. Peeling paint and body damage? I'd say a full restoration is best.

    And where do you draw the engineering line? Some of the bracketry on my drag car is certainly ugly and wouldn't pass the current pretty weld craze, but in my mind it's one of the things that make the car what it is. So, crude angle and stick welds are gonna stay.
  14. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 11,413

    Staff Member

    part of the key to it is not to remove too many of the original builders "finger prints" ... It would be a shame for a restoration to be considered a clone by someone who did not know because of over restoration... It is a fine line....
  15. 59pache
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 108


    I have a 1932 Chevy sedan that is one of these unknown survivors. I haven't been able to find a whole lot of information on the car other than what a few guys have told me here on the HAMB. I seem to be in a constant argument with myself on the direction of take the car without screwing up the cool little touches that were done to it back in the day. From what i could find the car was built in the from 58-61 and raced in Oklahoma where it was put into storage until 2010. The paint and interior aren't the best but are in pretty good shape by my standards. It has some of the coolest pinstriping i have ever seen. But more than anything i wanted to make this car a driver again. So i did that and have been driving it ever since. It makes for a really good conversation piece. Especially sice I was born in the late 80s and did not get to experience these cars back then [​IMG]
  16. EarlyFordV8
    Joined: Oct 20, 2013
    Posts: 111

    from Dallas

    Don't worry it is a very logical simple answer.
    Having history like pictures, write ups, racing tags & trophies excellent, now do your thing to it...that just keeps on adding history.
    quick85 and tb33anda3rd like this.
  17. 57ragtop
    Joined: Jun 14, 2011
    Posts: 9

    from wisconsin

    unless you love the build of others and don't want your own twist on it the history is just maintained I find that after I build one its nice to see some one put there touch on my start not every one likes what I do if they did I don't need to go to shows I can stay home and look at my cars

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  18. steel3window
    Joined: Jun 3, 2009
    Posts: 158


    Mine is one of those "survivors" without any signifigant history, but it is a survivor nonetheless. I have been fortunate to have traced it's ownership history to 1958, and yielded no big names, or show trophies. But does that make it of any less value to our hobby/lifestyle? I believe that question is up to each individual to decide for theimselves.


    As for the etiquette question, well, if you repaint the Mona Lisa, over the original, matching every brushstroke and color with exacting precision, is it still THE Mona Lisa?

    I think it is more of a question of how far should one go with restoration, or period correct repairs and upgrades?

    I have replaced the long worn top with new year correct material. The shift knob, missing pedal pads, and original style floor mat have been replaced with proper reproduction parts. Repairing the grey primer spots on the hood with correct, color matched light 'flake paint is on the list, but I think that other than enjoying the car, the stories it brings out from others when they see it is one of the things that is also being preserved.


    My hope is that when the day comes that it moves to the next person, they understand that though it may have no big names attached to it, they respect it for what it is, and do not feel the need to alter it signifigantly to add to it. Only continuing to add to it's story here on the H.A.M.B.
    T-roaster, Squablow and kidcampbell71 like this.
  19. Again, right on the money. Bird-shit stick welds don't add anything to a car's 'history', but replacing them with perfect TIG welds is off the mark too. A well-done stick weld keeps the 'spirit' alive and is just as functional. A car 'restored' to Pebble Beach standards really isn't the same car anymore, is it? But cleaning up stuff in a 'period manner' should always be acceptable if it makes the car more enjoyable to it's owner, with extra points if it improves the chances the car will be used.....
    quick85 and Moriarity like this.
  20. tb33anda3rd
    Joined: Oct 8, 2010
    Posts: 12,074

    1. Connecticut HAMB'ers

    what to do with each car would depend on the car. some historical cars should be preserved but not all. i am with EarlyFordv8 on some cars MAKING history and documenting the history along the way. example:
    history of car #1: old ford driven daily, converted to hot rod, no changes for 60 years...........
    history of car #2: old chevy driven daily, converted to hot rod, then a bigger motor to race it, then a bigger motor and some magazine coverage years later, motor downsized and higher gears for traveling different interior different paint color, some years later a bigger motor, new paint, trophies, magazine coverage etc. too be continued......
    the comparison to the mona lisa should not be considered because the painting is art that was made to be viewed and viewed only. a car/hot rod, [this is what confuses some guys] are made to be driven and viewed as art.
    cptn60 likes this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,091


    Sometimes a car's history is meaningless. Johnny Lumpdick from Sodomy, OH slapped a car together in 1964. Johnny was a pure nobody and not many people ever saw his car because he was, well, nobody. Just another swingin dick having his way with a, hmm, let's say a 55 Chevy tudor sedan. Paint was ok, had some kool wheels, front bumper was tossed in the garage rafters, had a slightly hopped up 327, black tuck n roll interior. Fast forward to 2016 and Waazoo Hotlick "found" Johnny's Chevy in the family garage, sitting since 1971. He thinks it might something historic and important, he can't ever imagine removing the dried up and cracking seat covers, the paint ABSOLUTELY must remain even though some parts of it delaminated and fell off over the years. Suffers severe misgivings about even replacing the tires. Waazoo is a monkey-spank. He found nothing more than RAW MATERIAL. Good ol Lumpdick's time with that car was nothing special even "in the day". Finding Roth's shop truck? The Bullitt 'Stang? A HOT ROD magazine cover car? Sure, all day long the plan should be either sympathetic restoration if possible, full tilt nut and bolt restoration if not. It will indeed change simply because our materials today are superior in depth, durability and available color. Vinyls are more flexible and colorfast.
    Talent is far more common than it was in the past. The majority of the work will be superior if for no more reason than better metal finishing vs an excess of torch welding and several hundred pounds of lead. Doing what was the norm back then is a fool's errand sometimes. Looking at rough cobbled brackets and flame cut frame changes left raw because they weren't seen, and even more that I won't bother to list, I ask you, why? How about we find a dirt floor garage too? Maybe build it outdoors? Paint it with a vacuum cleaner, huh? No, no, and of course, no. If it's something that was given some serious ink, set a record or 10 racing, was built by respected and notable talent from the past, then a car like that has merit and a history worth preserving. I'm nobody special or famous and it wouldn't mean a thing to me if someone stripped one of my restorations to make it their colors and trim. In many instances I don't now nor ever will subscribe to the idea that I'm a "caretaker"of my cars. I own em, they're mine, I'll have my way with em. Would I be that way to this one (Jesse Vincent Speedster)?
    Well hell no! Would I do my thing to something else? All day, any day. I've spent over 4 decades preserving history, and I'd also like to perhaps make history of my own some time too. Etiquette? Like booze or religion, in moderation it's fine. Yet sometimes vintage auto etiquette is little more than a raised pinky finger at the appropriate time, sometimes a raised middle finger is appropriate too. It's very safe to say that just like the traditions we embrace you'll know it when you see it and most would advance as required.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  22. Curt Six
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 801

    Curt Six

    There are some great points throughout this thread. I'm all for preserving and restoring hot rods and customs with some documented historical significance, but for me it starts getting fuzzy with the "unknown survivor" deal. If you find some car that was hot rodded decades ago and then mothballed, is modifying it further once it's yours sacrilege? Or is it just hot rodding? I'm not saying these "unknown" cars aren't significant or necessarily shouldn't be restored-that's the owner's call. I'm just saying I think we've got to be careful not to become the restorers we all used to rail about-the guys that wouldn't sell us parts because we were building hot rods rather than preserving what they believed needed to be preserved.

    Here's one for you...Herb Ogden's Buick. Obvious provenance. Barris even touched it. Then Barry Mazza found it deteriorating in the '80s and rebuilt it into the version we're all familiar with. I think the current version is the better car-one of the most beautiful customs going. But I also think if Barry Mazza found it today and did the same thing he'd catch hell for not preserving (restoring) a piece of custom history.


    cptn60, T-roaster, 59pache and 3 others like this.
  23. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,089


    I believe in preserving a point.I'm with Highlander on this one.Some deserve a nut and bolt restoration,some need the update.There have been very few times where I've gotten mad at someone for adding their own twist to a classic Kustom,because there are very few perfect Kustoms out there.
  24. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 12,723


    I still have my high school car, a 348 Chevy powered, chopped '53 Ford 2 door sedan which I did a very poor job building and it needed to be redone the day it was finished. I stored it poorly for years figuring on a total re-build which would make it unrecognizeable but far better and wilder than what it was when I was 16. (I graduated in '99 so this is not all that long ago).

    I have since decided that I want to treat it the same way I would treat a "survivor" type custom car find. I'm going to fix all the neglect damage and all the piss poor craftsmanship I applied to it but I will do my best not to change any of it's looks or major components. I'll blend in paint wherever I'm forced to do bodywork but I should be able to keep most of it. I'd like it to look just the way it did back then but without being such a hack job of pop rivet floors and body mud.

    That's the way I'd treat a survivor type car. Fix butcher work and neglect but try to save as much of it as possible, even if what is being saved isn't perfect anymore.

    On that Edsel, I'd definitely find a replacement center cap for the wheel, touch up the missing paint blotches and do some vinyl and button repair on that front seat. But that's where I'd draw the line. There's too much left of that one to totally strip and repaint/rechrome everything. If it wasn't in such nice shape yet, I'd think differently.
    Hyfire and falcongeorge like this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,091


    I currently have a Packard that was in the Harrah's collection. Before I got it there was an all new interior installed because the original was wasted. The paint is a mix of original and some repair from the distant past. It's nice enough to leave alone, to not spend $2,500 in materials to refinish (or about $8-10K for those who don't do paint work). I also think it would change the car's personality or street cred. Mr. Harrah knew good solid cars and wasn't in the habit of buying junk. There's enough to do in order to keep it on the road and providing thousands of miles of joyful vintage cruising. I'm going to add skirts to it, maybe even get a pair of Cadillac Sombreros for the front wheels. We played with that last week in a photoshop topic and I'm sold on the idea. It won't change a thing except where and how it gets played with. If I go to a gathering of stock resto types I can put my stock Packard caps on, hit the cruise night or maybe Sins of Steel, pop the Sombreros on her. Etiquette personified, right? I'll raise a pinky at the club function, a single finger at Sins. win/win...
    rodncustomdreams likes this.
  26. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,501

    from BC

    This is the problem, usually these cars aren't "improved" they are just re-worked to dovetail better with modern tastes and perceptions. Since we live in those modern times, the majority knod approval to the changes, and we continue to perpetuate the modern bullshit myths that all old customs had skirts, and all old hot rods were black hi-boys with '35 Ford wires. Everybody gets a nice warm squishy feeling, and all is right with the world. Nobody challenges the currently popular narrative, and all is good. And then we call it "carrying the gospel":rolleyes:. Sitting in shit is warm and squishy too, till it gets cold and starts to smell...
    Ok, back to your regularly scheduled complacency...
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  27. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,501

    from BC

    Its the exact same process that happened in the seventies and eighties, Old hot rods were found, un-channeled, slicked up, laden with billet accessories, and slathered in monochromatic pastel colours. A very few guys, VERY FEW,(yup, you guessed it,;) I have been on this same rant for about 40 years now) recoiled in horror, and the VAST majority thought it was wonderful because "that car was ugly anyway". The EXACT same thing is still happening now, right here, the only thing that's changed is the fashion of the day. Then it was EFI, billet wheels and pastel paint, now its '35 ford wires, flatheads and black. Its EXACTLY the same attitude, and EXACTLY the same thing, only the specific fashion accessories have changed. Its still an ongoing process of destroying survivor hot rods by erasing their character to make them comply with whatever the current "flavor of the week" is, other than that, nothing has changed.
    So go ahead and get mad and tell me what an asshole I am, hell, I've had fashion conscious hot rodders calling me an asshole for 40+ years, I'm pretty used to it by now.:D
  28. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 2,972


    OK, I'll say it. That is one UGLY car. Probably the uglyist custom I have ever seen! If it were mine, I'd restore it back to stock. Since '60 Edsels were such rare cars anyway, that is the only way it would have any pertinence. I understand the whole preservation thing, but this? I'm sorry.
  29. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 906


    My thoughts.
    The appreciation for "Survivor" cars is much better now then in the past. In part due to sites like this.
    When I found my survivor Clarkaiser built custom back in the mid 70's there was no internet. No hamb. No CCC. Just the old timers (if you could hook up with one) and a neighbor that had a huge collection of what is now called the "Little pages" magazines. Hell. I didn't even know that Bob Kaiser was alive and still living in the Detroit area. The resources we have now are amazing.
    My intention was to restore the car back to it's heyday configuration when it was displayed at the Ford Rotunda but being young and footloose I lacked the required capitol to do that, so I sold it.
    The guy that bought it knew of it's history but still pulled the running flathead and installed a 302. He also tore out the ORIGINAL tuck and roll interior (That was in really nice shape still) and install a new one that didn't fit the period at all. He also put Dice on all the knobs and a really cheesy Continetal kit on the back. All incorrect. But he thought that it was great and what a custom should look like.
    Luckily the car has survived to this day and has been returned closer to it's original glory and hopefully it will continue to be so.
    My long winded point is this. It is hard and expensive enough to return a documented car back to it's former glory (Look at the Barris Buick or Ayala's Wild bird restoration for current examples) let alone a car built by some unknown that had questionable skills and taste as was pointed out by Highlander. I think that all survivors have to be looked at in the context of what the current owners wants to achieve with the car. After all it is their car now and not everyone has a sense of history. Is it to make it safe and driveable and to change things that they don't like or to leave as much as possible the way that it was for the current generation to see how things were really done "back in the day."
    It's a fine line to walk and usually some one still ends up pissed off......
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,091


    Daayuum George! Don't sugar coat it, we're all big kids here...;)

    Hey bud, you're over thinking the spirit a bit. Perhaps what you've observed now and then (not all that often, truth be told) is that 'thing' that's a 40 grit ideal to me as well. Somebody drags a hacked up hot rod from a barn, probably built by Mr. Lumpdick's misfit cousin who didn't know squat back then. Has an old lic plate on it from 1958 and whomever discovered it hears the angels begin to sing, a holy beam of sunlight breaks through a cloud of barn dust and dried pidgeon shit, dreams of 6 figure ebay bidding begin because it's truly the REAL DEAL vintage rod. Headlights don't match, the fuel block is held on the frame with mechanic's wire, steering parts were cut down and welded by the farmer up the road. But hot-damn-holy-pancakes!! THIS IS HOW IT WAS REALLY DONE!! WOOOHOOO!!!.
    The uncovered holy grail gets plastered all over the 'net and dozens like him swoon over this treasure from the past. "I'd drive just like it is! Don't even wash it!" We've all seen em, entertained ourselves with the clueless replies and verbal diarrhea, felt that 40 grit toilet tissue that follows it. Yet at the end of the tunnel is a true bright light. We just as seldom get to share in real discoveries that make us wish it was us, make us feel genuinely warm n fuzzy, tugs at sincere memories from our youth, even can teach us techniques and parts availability. We always have to take the bad with the good. Thankfully the bad is pretty rare sometimes, and within these pages way more rare than the good ones that just keep showing up. We get to participate in the preservation etiquette that this topic is about if it's one from our part of the world. Something we knew of or took pictures at a show. Lacking Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine we simply have to wait our turn for the next good one to come along.
    See George, it ain't all bad, right?
    tb33anda3rd likes this.

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