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Joe in Canada

Are show cars still historic vehicles

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Very interesting article in this mornings Hemmings daily news email.  Are over restored show cars still a historic vehicle. I see this when ever I go to a car show. The shop will remove any draw or pickup marks out of the metal on the firewall for example. Then they will put the assembly code crayon markings  on a mirror finished firewall. Is this type of restoration work authentic. Is the car still historically correct or should be classified as a modified car. Have exhibiters of show cars gone to far in their in trying to receive their first place award? I remember going to Longfields restoration shop and John the shop foramen showing me a Bugatti they were restoring for a customer destined for Pebble Beach. I realised how talented this shop was when showing me the frame and him saying how they leave the draw marks not filling them. But many shops out there are not like this one. So what is classed as a historical and what is classed as being modified. Where do you draw the line. Read the article    

 

https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2017/12/18/fiva-mint-condition-restorations-equivalent-to-customization-should-be-rejected/?refer=news

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Perfection is the only way most folks are able to justify an expensive restoration and sadly, a majority of people in this hobby see perfection as the only scale by which the cars can be judged. Who is going to accept orange peel in their fresh paint job, even if that's how the factory did it? It's almost daily that someone comes into my shop and complains about a detail on a car that would have been perfectly acceptable on the showroom floor when it was new. I have an all-original 1974 Trans Am sitting here with 45,000 original miles and the same owner since 1975. The "TRANS AM" decal on the trunk spoiler is flagrantly crooked, which is exactly how it was applied by the factory. To me it's a mistake to fix it, but it's also the main reason why the car has not sold--EVERYONE complains about it and it frightens them into thinking the car has issues and someone did a half-assed job fixing them. They don't want to believe me when I tell them that's how it was built. It's as if everyone totally forgot just how bad cars were in the 1970s.

 

Several clubs are nearing a breaking point with their judging because of over-restoration and the idea that you can buy first place trophies. A car restored to its original condition will, in most cases, be laughed off the show field. I have some NOS chrome bumper guards for my '41 Buick that are little better than silver spray paint. Should I use them as-is? I don't see how that's even possible.

 

Nevertheless, we have to work with what we have and I've often made the point that if the cars are going to pursue perfection, and they're allowed to compete in "stock" club judging, then perfection is the standard by which they should be judged. Authenticity is a secondary consideration and I have great respect for clubs like the NCRS where over-restoration is a penalty, not a bonus. But that's extremely difficult to enforce in clubs where there are a wide variety of cars, clubs like the AACA and CCCA. It has to be a beauty contest because nobody can possibly know all things about all those different years, makes, and models of cars. Subjective quality is the only scale that can work.

 

And events like Pebble Beach, which are exclusively beauty contests where perfection is the ONLY requirement, have pulled the rest of the hobby in that direction. Sure, there are a smattering of original cars in a special class, but the car that wins that show every year has 35,000 man-hours invested in it to erase every imperfection from every single surface of every single part. That ain't how the factory did it, I don't care which factory you're talking about.

 

That said, I kind of like the idea of calling an over-restored car a "custom." Maybe we'll shame some of these guys into getting it right.

 

 

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Too true, Matt, but I see no way out of it. Today's car shows reward cars that look as the original designers and engineers dreamed they would look, not as they actually did look when they rolled off of a high pressure high volume production line manned by workers with a  company directed "that's good enough" mind set. ...........Bob

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34 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

It's as if everyone totally forgot just how bad cars were in the 1970s.

 

Truer words aren't in existence.

 

When I was buying my first new car in 1969, and looking at the options, the Mopar salesman was convinced in his mind that I wanted a Super Bee.  I apologize up front if you own one, but I can tell you, new it was a piece of junk.  Fit and finish was awful, started it up and everything from the glove box to the windows was rattling.  On a 400 point judging system, I'd bet the car would have a hard time getting 325 points.  No seams lined up correctly, paint was fair to middlin' at best.   I ended up buying a Cutlass, it wasn't perfect either, but a heck of a lot better than the SB....

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Hello Joe;  Over restored has been an issue forever.  I recall seeing a 1910 Cadillac which had the h#ll restored out of it.  All of the casting mating lines were ground off and every part was absolutely mirror smooth.  The owner he told me that is how you win trophies.  Ruined the car in my humble opinion.  But his car and his choice, live and let live, must satisfy yourself.   Luckily, our cars are ideal in every way.  Gary

 

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But are these type of restorations and guidelines the ones keeping the vast majority of enthusiast's out of the hobby??? Have we become to non acceptable of what is a good restoration and what the factory did as Mat pointed out? Thank you Mat! Like mentioning in another thread by an AACA judge that they deduct points per tire + spare rather than a set? Are we getting too tough on the average participant with a nice car. Knocking his points so low he is to embarrassed or offended to attend.  Would the judging meets grow if this ever happened.

Edited by Joe in Canada (see edit history)
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In 1984 I was staying in a hotel in the Quad Cities, Il. It was the closest accommodations to Keewanee that Kodak trip planners could find. I was there inspecting some new boilers and witnessing a burner test.

 

At night I checked the phone book yellow pages for adult book stores. They are usually on the seedy side of town and near the back row used car lots. I had been working on cars and trying to achieve those perfect cars since my teens. There, under the lights, in a Moline car lot after hours sat a black 10 year old Mercury in pretty nice shape. I looked at the car and thought "You know, I really like a clean 10 year old car. They have a great appeal to me." I thought that concept over during the rest of the trip and made up my mind that my personal standard would be owning cars in the general, well maintained, 10 year old condition.

 

That has been my rule since 1984. I have found my personal niche in the hobby and thoroughly enjoyed my cars since. Sometimes I do a little more than I should sometimes a little less, but my level of comfort and true value in enjoyment in the cars has always been fun and generally stress free. It hasn't been like that for a lot of people I know.

 

I still line up all my Phillips head screws, but I also have a row of those little touch-up paint bottles with the brush inside. I use those on the panels I should have repainted a decade ago. But I know the dangers of that first scuff of sandpaper and where it can lead.

 

I still remember that night in Moline, the car, my thoughts, and the whole change of outlook. Only happened twice in my life, second time was in 1991 when I personally experienced the Higgs Boson, but that is a whole different story.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Years ago there was an un-restored 12,000 mile1925 Buick sedan that did not do well in the judging.

It was hit on the nickel plating was not as shiny as chrome, dull paint etc.  It could not compete with the cars with polished carbs and perfectly bent and parallel wires.

I am glad to see that there is a category now for original survival  cars.

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While I have some very strong reactions to SOME of the reasons behind the trend mentioned in the Hemmings blog (going to have to keep my trap shut on those) I along with most people hope to preserve really original cars.  Some cars need restorations and some do not.  Some cars are beyond conservation or would require an extraordinary amount of money and talent to protect.  Some cars beg to be restored and that is great that so many of you have gone down that road.

 

The facts suggest that a individual can restore a car to the equal of a professional restorer.  It is done all the time.  We also have cars that compete in AACA that have never been restored and do in fact get their First Junior and Senior.  At our "academy awards" in February West Peterson will announce a lot of cars that won national awards that were restored by the owner. 

 

I will never understand why we cannot accept that there are all types of car enthusiasts.  Rather than be snobbish that my car is perfect and not driven, my car is perfect and it is a driver, my car is original or whatever the case.  This is a big hobby and there is room for all types of personal preferences.  Why we continue to run down those who have the money to have their car professionally restored is an anathema to me.  Why should we care?  Not everyone has the talent or time to restore a car.  Those with the financial resources to have their cars restored have saved many cars from the scrap yard.

 

AACA has recognized Unrestored cars for several decades, nothing new.

 

Just my opinion.

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26 minutes ago, Steve Moskowitz said:

I will never understand why we cannot accept that there are all types of car enthusiasts.  Rather than be snobbish that my car is perfect and not driven, my car is perfect and it is a driver, my car is original or whatever the case.  This is a big hobby and there is room for all types of personal preferences.  Why we continue to run down those who have the money to have their car professionally restored is an anathema to me.  Why should we care?  Not everyone has the talent or time to restore a car.  Those with the financial resources to have their cars restored have saved many cars from the scrap yard

Steve I am talking over restored cars not professionally restored cars is the topic AGAIN. As I used an example in the first posting. You will notice I was commenting  Longfields exceptional restoration for Pebble Beach and not over restoring the Bugatti frame. Longfields has actually closed there doors to customer's now and only work on their own cars for show. 

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On the same subject of restoration.  I personally never line up screw slots, bolts, clamps, etc. because I can never imagine a factory worker in any decade doing that.  I have never been to Pebble Beach but during a recent RM Restoration tour the shop foreman, Ernie, answered questions and told us how his crew of 36 technicians work and to what level. We were looking at a Cadillac which was being prepared for Pebble Beach, the wooden frame of the body was a mixture of original wood and new.  Ernie said the Concours required the entry to have a fairly high percentage of original wood to qualify, so the frame had to be restored and not simply replaced.  He also said current environmental laws govern their use of paints and all other materials.  As I said I've not been to any high level concours but I think they see the problem and are trying to keep it real.  Doesn't Pebble Beach give extra points or consideration to the vehicle which completed a pre show 100 mile tour?   Perhaps someone who does like competition could chime in?  Gary

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Steve is right. This argument has gone on forever, and will never cease. If we all think this issue over carefully as individuals, we will all come up with different opinions, because we all have different perspectives

 

When I was a young kid in the  early 1960's, my parents were judges at an important regional event in Hamilton, Ohio. I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor while the adults talked during a planning meeting. I still recall one fella piping up about his disgust with over-restored cars. He specifically mentioned that Model T Fords should show the spot welds right through the exterior paint, because that was how they looked when they rolled off the assembly line. There was some heated debate about this. I suppose that's why I remember it so well. 

 

Later I became a tire-buster and mechanic trainee for Goodyear. I spent a lot of time underneath cars of the 1960's and early 70's, changing oil, shocks, brakes, etc. This was circa 1970-74, and I was fascinated with muscle cars, AND still a member of AACA through my parents. So I paid more attention to how the cars looked I worked on than a typical mechanic might  have. I recall noticing how little paint was really applied to the engines' underneath areas, especially the water-jacket walls on the lower sides of V8 engines, behind the exhaust manifolds. I noticed sealant over-sprayed all over some components on some cars, but missing altogether on others of the same make, model, and year.  I could relate dozens of examples, but you get the idea. 

 

Later I became an automotive writer and  historian focused on muscle era vehicles. In my work I obtained factory photos of assembly line workers in action, and wrote hundreds of magazine articles and books on the subject. I even visited Camaro/Firebird assembly lines in Norwood, Ohio, and watched the cars being built. The engines which were hanging overhead and moving along to the point where they would be mated with the chassis were certainly not all painted in exactly the same details. I was specifically looking for details like that while I was there. Yet today we have lots of "experts" who will tell you how GM "always" did it on the assembly line; what the workers "always" did, and what they "never" did. People who really know the subject don't use the words "never" or "always" when talking about assembly line-built cars of that era. 

 

When GM was closing down the GM Norwood plant in 1985, I was invited by the plant manager to come down and interview the older employees, and try to research how the Camaros were made back in the day. I cannot begin to tell you how funny they all thought it was that I was trying to pin down certain details, such as mysterious crayon marks I had seen only on some cars. One jolly fellow said to me, "Son, we were cranking out cars on an assembly line, not making historical commemorative items. We ran three shifts, and hundreds of people, working under different supervisors. Do you really think every car would be exactly like every other car, down to the finest details?" Then the rest of his colleagues burst out laughing, and regaled me with countless stories of workarounds they came up with during shortages of fasteners and other small parts, plus paint, sealants, etc. 

 

Yet today we want to be able to delineate what is "over-restored," or not. I would argue that MOST restored cars of the 1950's through 1970's are way nicer than they ever were when new. For example, if you paint your Chevy V8 engine block, would you want to leave large patches of it unpainted? And if you do, you are gambling that judges at the next important event you enter will agree that it should have large areas uncovered by paint. If the judges at one event do agree with you, bet your bottom dollar that judges at the next event will not. 

 

In short, restore your own car to your own tastes, and let everyone else do the same. Don't worry too much about trying to "judge" other peoples' work on their cars, whether it suits your taste or not. After all, do we really want to place that much emphasis on trophies made of imitation brass, imitation marble, and often even fake wood?  

 

Over nearly 60 years I have seen more bad blood, lost friendships, and unhappy experiences with antique cars over judging and trophies than all other issues put together! 

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4 minutes ago, lump said:

 

Over nearly 60 years I have seen more bad blood, lost friendships, and unhappy experiences with antique cars over judging and trophies than all other issues put together! 

 

I agree.  I sat next to an individual at an awards banquet, a high end single marque club.  When he didn't get best of show with his high dollar restoration car, he pounded the table, cursed, and swore he'd quit the club and sell the car.  He did, and he did.

 

That's not the love of antique cars that I know.....

 

Good point, though, just about any restored car is "over restored" compared to how it came out of the factory.  Reminds me of the recent story I heard, fellow restored a Model A to high standards, won trophies, but was criticized by the corresponding club members for not having paint drips on the back of the front fenders, since they were originally dipped and hung to drip-dry.

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1 hour ago, 60FlatTop said:

I still line up all my Phillips head screws

Bernie

 

I do the same thing with flat head and cap screws.

I want all the slots and flats to be symmetrical......it just looks better.

There is an old story about J. I. Case inspecting a new boiler (or something) on which all the square head bolts were tightened helter skelter.

He made the crew line up all the flats on the bolt heads for appearance sake.

It does make a difference.

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28 minutes ago, cahartley said:

 

I do the same thing with flat head and cap screws.

I want all the slots and flats to be symmetrical......it just looks better.

There is an old story about J. I. Case inspecting a new boiler (or something) on which all the square head bolts were tightened helter skelter.

He made the crew line up all the flats on the bolt heads for appearance sake.

It does make a difference.

That is usually done for show cars, or cars destined for publicity.  Their production order will read something like "Tag: Auto Show" or "Zone Office Publicity", and gets the better than average treatment on the assembly line for fit and finish, and perfect alignment of body panels, decals, fasteners, etc.  After all, an automaker wants to show off its best for the major auto shows and car magazines as they want the public to read about the perceived quality about a vehicle vs. what they're really getting.

 

Craig

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In another life I created an ran the "platinum" class for a major marque. Quit when I got tired of picking apart nice cars. That said I have had some very rare (single and low double digit production) cars but at the end of the day a Pontiac is still a Pontiac. Still all are toys and for my pleasure. Closest thing to stock is my tow car (DOHC 6, all independent suspension , and 4 wheel disks) but have added a number of tech touches that did not come from the factory. Never have really understood the "coffee table"/"pure stock" mentality.

 

Yes I line screws up, also try to make my additions as factory-like as possible, but that is more AR/OCD/HFA than "collector".

 

Rarely show a car because have had very rare lose out to lotsa chrome though did once offer a prize for anyone who could pick out all of the non-stock elements on one of mine.

 

That said my cars of this century all drive much nicer than the ones of the last (though the Reattae are nearly as nice).

 

So no longer judge but often share things I spot with the owner. They usually already know.  

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1 hour ago, trimacar said:

 

I agree.  I sat next to an individual at an awards banquet, a high end single marque club.  When he didn't get best of show with his high dollar restoration car, he pounded the table, cursed, and swore he'd quit the club and sell the car.  He did, and he did.

 

I think we all know such a guy. This is why I don't participate in points judging and it's also why I prize my AACA HPOF national award so highly.

 

I owned a great original car. I did not restore it.

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2 hours ago, Steve Moskowitz said:

 ...I along with most people hope to preserve really original cars.  Some cars need restorations and some do not....  

I will never understand why we cannot accept that there are all types of car enthusiasts....  

 

All this discussion reminds me of what I've always thought:

The CARS are the trophy.  Share your car with the public,

who will be glad to see it, and will appreciate even a modest

#3 condition antique.

 

They won't care that your left rear ashtray is dull.

 

An excellent alternative, as Steve mentions, is the HPOF class:

A car can't be over-restored if it's original!

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On "perfect" cars leaving the assembly plant, I could tell you stories about "paint icicles" dripping from the bottom of the doors coming out of the Fremont plant and other notable issues of the cars of the 80's. I was a service rep in the 80's for GM.

 

I agree with lump on the only thing consistent with the cars of the probably up to the 90's was that they were consistently inconsistent.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)

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37 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

All this discussion reminds me of what I've always thought:

The CARS are the trophy.  Share your car with the public,

who will be glad to see it, and will appreciate even a modest

#3 condition antique.

 

They won't care that your left rear ashtray is dull.

 

An excellent alternative, as Steve mentions, is the HPOF class:

A car can't be over-restored if it's original!

Excellent point John.

All this grief and stress over the idea of what others think of your car? I just don't understand it anymore.  I have a garage full of old trophies I used to collect from local car shows when I was really into Corvettes. They seemed to matter to me back then but now they just collect dust and nobody really gives a damn who won which trophy 30 years ago. The cars are long gone anyway and when I pass away they'll probably end up at the Salvation Army or in a dumpster just like those old football/baseball trophies from the 1950's you see in second hand stores. Truth be told, people are just being polite when you show them an old trophy and they feign interest. It's like boring your neighbors with a slide show of your trip to Papua, New Guinea.

Today my favorite trophy is a thumbs up at a traffic light from another driver or pedestrian, or watching someone take a picture of my car when it's parked at the curb while I'm having coffee on an outdoor patio downtown. These are spontaneous, honest accolades from an admiring public....and I don't have to worry about the dust.

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2 hours ago, cahartley said:

 

I do the same thing with flat head and cap screws.

I want all the slots and flats to be symmetrical......it just looks better.

There is an old story about J. I. Case inspecting a new boiler (or something) on which all the square head bolts were tightened helter skelter.

He made the crew line up all the flats on the bolt heads for appearance sake.

It does make a difference.

 

Once I rode about 80 miles in the passenger seat of a '41 Cadillac 60 Special with the windshield molding screws all akilter. It drove me nuts!. I don't have any diagnosed afflictions in that area, but it sure made an impression. It was hard to keep my eyes steady.

Grimy, you can get some kidding out of that one. He'll say those guys are nuts- that would include Doug.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Yes, they are still historic vehicles. The trend is for original, and I agree with that, however, restoration is a valid means to bring a vehicle back to the condition it would have been or near too. Frankly when seeing other sorts of restoration of historic objects, I'd say the car hobby is probably more OCD about historic correctness than other restored objects in many museums, especially for objects sold and often surviving in mass. I do agree that a car that is functional and original is best preserved than restored.

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I agree with a good friend of mine that said the best trophy is a set of worn out tires.  He has a 1912 Winton that he has driven (not trailered) all over the US including a trip from the Detroit area to Yellowstone and back.  Some of you might know him because he drives his cars EVERYWHERE.

 

The best "trophies" are memories with friends driving on tours.  There is nothing better that engaging the average person to the joys of an old car and driving it. 

 

I too have received some trophies from car shows because the truck is somewhat different.  I keep an 18 gallon Rubbermaid container in the corner of my office at home and toss them there.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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6 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

Once I rode about 80 miles in the passenger seat of a '41 Cadillac 60 Special with the windshield molding screws all akilter. It drove me nuts!. I don't have any diagnosed afflictions in that area, but it sure made an impression. I was hard to keep my eyes steady.

About the screws lining up. The cars being built now are assembled with an air or electric ratchet set at a precise torque. No it does not have an override to align the screw slots. They also have torque monitors that go around and check the gun and screw torque at a set time intervals. 

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Unfortunately I don’t think I will ever own a show car. There is no way I could afford the 30,000 plus hours to make a car show worthy. That’s ok as I really like working on them and enjoy driving them more.  My old 49 F3 Ford pickup barn find (yes a real barn find, the last barn in the city of Chicago) only took 15 years to restore and make drivable. The current 38 Studebaker was another barn find. No body work but paint buff out, engine rebuild, brakes and electrical rebiuld. It’s a driver and it’s a ball to drive. I’m sure judges would not allow it on the show field but it attracts all kinds of people young and old where ever I go. I always have to tell someone about it and have even been pulled over by a few cops just to talk about it. A thumbs up, a wave and big smile or someone saying nice car is the best trophy I can get. Then I also get to drive it home, how can you beat that. 

Dave S 

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