Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
7/9/23 12:28 p.m.

I've restored a lot of cars for customers and myself and maybe I'm just moving to a "been there, done that" state of mind, because I find myself much less interested in restoration and much more interested in being a custodian or caretaker of a car instead.  Of course, barn finds and patina are all the rage these days, and maybe I'm just part of that fad...I hope not.

Anyway, I'm finding it's a lot more fun to be the caretaker of a car with some sort of history than to restore it and wipe out that history. I have two build threads going with caretaking of personal cars. One is my nasty CJ2A and the other is my slightly worn 1966 VW Beetle. With both cars, my goals have been centered around preservation and using original parts wherever possible.

With the Jeep, I've purchased a lot of reproduction parts to get it roadworthy and a friend has helped dull the finish of the new parts to maintain the continuity (aka he's an expert at fake patina) . As I go to swap meets and meet other Jeep people, I hope to replace many of the new parts with original parts.

With the Beetle, I'm going on the same principles. It's a bit of a restomod and I did buy new alloy wheels, but I'm trying to do most of the work using original parts or period-correct performance pieces.

I've found it's much more fun to hunt down a switch or a bezel for $2 than order reproduction one (that doesn't quite fit) for $5-20. The labor to find the $2 part is often expressed in hours and months. There's instant gratification when I get the reproduction part a few days after spending a few minutes to order it, but that gratification isn't as lasting as when I find the NOS or good used part.

Where do you land on all of this? Is caretaking more than just a fad about barnfinds and patina? 

7/9/23 1:55 p.m.

Anyway, I'm finding it's a lot more fun to be the caretaker of a car with some sort of history than to restore it and wipe out that history.


Somewhere along the line, I started to look at cars and their scars as a book. A 30 year old car has seen a lot of history and the cars condition tells a story about its life. If you preserve the car, you preserve the story and get to write the next chapter. If you do a full restoration, you are wiping the pages clean and starting a new story. 

Cadman5 Reader
7/9/23 2:15 p.m.

For me it just depends a lot on the person, the vehicle, and the project goal. We now have a 1966 Dodge A100 truck that my wife's Grandpa bought new from her other Grandpa (Dodge dealer). It passed on to my in-laws, and now to us. It is in tremendous condition because it was an AZ/CA vehicle and has no rust and original paint. It could VERY easily be turned into a $35-40k show queen, but we are enjoying it as it was used by previous generations, a truck to be used (not abused) and to bring smiles to those who see it. Maybe a set of period correct slot mags will show up on it, but we are letting this survivor age with dignity. There are a few things I recently did, such as convert the brakes to a dual master cylinder (for safety), but I used the 1967 A100 part for the conversion to keep some semblance of originalness. The water pump just gave out, and revealed a radiator that was also on the verge. The original radiator was copper/brass and the new one is all aluminum. So, not original, but I think it is what Grandpa and Dad would have done. I am still on the fence regarding how to treat the rust that is present (roof is pretty bad, the entire bed is bare metal from use, and paint scratches and minor body dings from use). Probably paint the roof. The rest? maybe clear coat? maybe "shine juice"? Not sure.

On the other side of the coin, I found a 1967 A100 van nearby that had a few pretty significant body rot spots but was sound overall. I didn't end up pulling the trigger, but the plan for it was "no fear". Tear into it and do whatever to get it good looking and back on the road. Newer, non-dodge parts, half-ass body work, mis-matched electrical, newer rims, high-back bucket seats, whatever. 

Again, I think it just depends a lot on the person, the vehicle, and the project goal.

The truck:

Mr_Asa UltimaDork
7/9/23 2:31 p.m.

I've mentioned before, but Dad is a former museum conservator and curator.  Likely due to this, I fall heavily on the conservator side of the argument (restomod vs conservation is a different argument.)

There's something great about seeing something that has survived for decades before you were around and is still going strong.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
7/9/23 4:00 p.m.

The older (lazier) I get, the more I look at vehicles like vintage guitars- Refinish (restore) them, and you ruin the story.

My 270K mile Miata is a perfect example. Functionally, it needed the full engine rebuild, seat belts, and new top. I couldn't justify a grand for new leather M-edition embroidered seat covers, so I patched them. There are bumps and bruises, but it all says "survivor". I cleaned and got the original stereo working (poorly), but it stays because, hey, it came with the car. I will have to treat some rust from a beaten up fender soon, but am still deciding the best way to do that-Kintsugi anyone?

But then again, this is my truck, so I might be a patina fan-boy.

frenchyd MegaDork
7/10/23 7:02 p.m.

I come down squarely in the restomod  side.  
     Since my main interest is vintage racing. I'm clearly going to blow up, ruin things.  As I push the boundaries..  while I have stacks of the old parts,  ( and almost never seem to break those).  
 I'm required to have current safety equipment, roll cages, seats seat belts,  fire extinguishers, kill switches etc. 

  But with motors etc. I try to keep that original as much as possible.  While it doesn't do much for power it sure makes things last a long time.  Frankly I'm tired of spending my last dollar on parts to just keep up with the fast boys. 
  They always have ways to make original blocks  make at least  twice as much power as originally.  And if those parts aren't winners  another bucket load or two of cash wil buy things that promise to be winners. 

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