Whilst considering this thread, it is important to include in the thought process that a car is a combination of the aesthetic and practical – a beautiful way of getting from A to B.
How close to originality? A 50 year old car wont ever be original again, even if its untouched - but there is a right way, a right way and a wrong way - each to his own but don’t come crying when you realise that you have destroyed its value because there is a wrong way! A right way would be not to mess with it at all – its called patina and it can be achingly lovely. The other right way is rebuild it back to ‘factory’ – but you lose the record of the life, and possibly the urge to use it properly. How balanced it is in the wet!
The decision of ‘which right is right’ can be a real dilemma and can seemingly lead to such schizophrenic results as the Villa d’Este preservation award winning SZ – on one hand a tragic loss of originality – on the other…A good laugh before its finished!
Alan Clark MP (a fellow petrolhead (he of free car tax for pre 74 classics in the UK) was a lover and promulgator of utter originality to the extent that he drove scruffy old cars and never wanted to destroy the originality and ‘integrity’ by rebuilding the engine etc. I can understand that others would call it scruffy where I would call it patinated, but not to believe that a rebuilt (to stock) engine would be just as good as the original just makes me think he never found a good engine builder. A 50 year old car that has never been touched by the hand of a rebuilder or sprayer might be deemed to be original Mr Clark, but it probably drives like a dog.
Given a year or two out of the showroom and a sound thrashing and it will never be original again, a point that Mr Clark missed. ‘Returning’ to original is fine but don’t get carried away and don’t let it stop you enjoying the true pleasure of driving it (hard!) There is a necessity to replace worn out parts, but to uprate and embellish?
I raced an MGB and uprated everything. It was bloody quick but it took driving my cousins stock road car for me to realise how nasty mine was on the road – the original or ‘standard spec’ one was a joy.
My son whacked fat alloys onto his lowered hatch – style over function, it was vile to drive but it gave him ‘club entry’ which was his goal. I think it takes a lot to improve on an unsullied factory offering – the engineers (although mostly tied by the bean counters) knew what they were doing and to a price, produced a fine balanced car - but my son would have called that ‘boring’ too. You learn by your mistakes.
Uprate the engine and you would be wrong not to consider the brakes and probably the suspension etc etc to keep it ‘all of a one’. But mess with the bodywork? Do you understand automotive design better than Bertone, Pininfarina, Zagato? – Have to say I love the smooth flowing, uncluttered lines of a de-bumpered classic though – and truth be known, the designer was probably tied by a certain level of factory enforced pragmatism against ideals. But mess with the integrity of an Italian designed beauty at your peril! You might be able to live with the name calling and the hit in value, but really, why not just get a kit car!?
Racers – your barbarism can be forgiven – a bit – as you have a different set of goals and its great to see them on the track – but hot-rodding a sports car? Hmmm!