Maintain, Restore, or Modify your Classic Car

Which Camp Are You In?

There’s a never-ending argument going on regarding the proper way to maintain a vintage car. One side insists that collector cars should be kept in “as is” condition, assuming the car is relatively clean and drivable. Another prefers that the vehicle be stripped and rebuilt from the frame up, then displayed in better-than-new condition.

A third group would rather add modern engines and running gear while keeping the body and interior more-or-less intact.

So who’s right in this dispute? Let’s examine each position in detail.

Group A – Maintain:

The folks on this side of the fence believe that a vintage car’s charm lies in its originality. If the body has never been repainted and exhibits a certain patina, that’s viewed as more attractive than a respray. A few dings and dents? Sure… as long as they’re relatively minor. Rust is unacceptable but chrome needn’t be perfect.

An interior in which the leather exhibits moderate creases can be endured. After all, if a movie star, former race driver, or member of the aristocracy has set his/her bottom on the seat, why on earth would you want to throw it away in favor of factory-refined cowhide? The same applies to items like wood-covered instrument panels. Hairline cracks merely indicate that the car has been exposed to sunnier days.

Mechanical condition is less liberal with these folks. A few idiosyncrasies are acceptable, such as slow starting, the odd gear-crunch and no end of rattles, but she’d better be dependable. Uh… let me qualify that statement; we’re talking about people who enjoy performing their own maintenance.

Group B – Restore:

To belong to this gang you should be (a) mechanically talented or (b) financially well-off. Meaning: you must have the ability to perform a full-scale restoration including the patience for several years of part-time effort. Or you have the financial resources to pay an expert. Either way, the objective is to return the vehicle to showroom condition or better.

But how many factories added multi-layers of paint to new cars, each carefully hand-sanded between applications? How many engines left the showroom looking like works of art? Let’s be realistic here. Perfectly-restored cars are normally covered and trailered to classic shows. They’re seldom driven, certainly not in the rain. Lovely to look at, they gather more trophies than dust. To be fair we should admit that some owners do drive their beauties in vintage competitions and on the street, though rarely as daily drivers.

Group C – Modify:

From what we’ve observed, this is the fastest-growing group. Historical perfection is not their thing. While they appreciate the origin of their chosen mount it is only the beginning, a base on which to make a statement. Even so, this group is diverse in its tastes. Some like to hot rod and drag race. Some see vintage cars as an opportunity for customization. And there are many vintage owners who disavow both but upgrade their cars with modern parts in order to achieve improved safety and performance.

So where do we stand in this debate? It would be true to say that we empathize with all points of view… and we’re not just being diplomatic here. We admire the work of those who modify, either for performance or personal expression. When attending Concours d’Elegance we lust over those superbly restored classics, yet in the cut-and-thrust of daily traffic we might prefer modern brakes and steering.

Perhaps the best thing about vintage cars is that there’s room for everyone, as long as we acknowledge the other person’s choice. Originals, restored, modified… it really doesn’t matter. But if a category could exist that combined all three, that’s where you’d find us.

Whichever group you happen to fall in, we’re excited to be included in your restoration or modification projects. If you’re restoring a classic car, we have used rims for sale for many different makes and models. We have a large inventory of classic hubcaps for sale as well for those looking to restore an antique car to its original specifications. If you’re looking to modify a classic car with modern parts, we offer the best selection of factory wheels anywhere.

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