Saw a Model T to day that was devoid of paint.
So often seekers of the holy grille find a T that is original. Rough but the engine runs and the car is driveable. Interior has been the home of a few critters.
The paint is all but gone - the surface patina is rust and a slight covering of the factory paint.
At what point during the ownership is the vehicle allowed to remain as found? Would the repainting be a distraction?
Holy Grille!! Makes my mouth water!!
Hey, your car, your decision
It's your car. Do what you think will make the car best for you.
I have enjoyed T's that looked like new. Now I am enjoying rusty looking ones. I agree with Les and Royce. It is your car. Repainting is a lot of work but rewarding. If you decide to repaint it be sure you take lots of pictures of it "Before". It's more difficult to put patina back on than to take it off. Having one car each way is a good solution.
Regardless of what you deiced, have fun with it.
Just a thought. When the lack of paint combined with the possibly of inadequate storage conditions allows the car to deteriorate even further, then you've got a problem.
It's a CAR. YOUR car....paint it or not. Enjoy it.
At the recent LA Classic car show that several of us displayed our T's at there was a group of Chevy pickups there with many of them displaying their original paint.
I really liked the look of them in their original paint even thought most all of it had been long gone only showing traces of the original color on the sides with those blending colors of top coat primer then fading to bare steel. It looked as though the surface was being preserved with a coat of oil or some kind of low gloss protectant.
You can opt to preserve the body from further decay but also keep the Holly Grail look which many people really appreciate a lot lore than the perfectly painted show car. Just watch which cars get the most attention at the shows the perfectly better than new or the preserved original with all the years of flaws and memories.
I like both restored and original but at a show you will find me looking over the unrestored cars more because some idiot has not messed with it yet! When all the unrestored cars are gone, all we will have left is pictures. Nothing like the real thing when you need to know something about your car that some idiot thought was better than original. I like to restore my own cars so at least I know who the idiot is that did that
When this "patina" fad passes, the rusty ones will get cut up into hotrods while the nice restored cars will be deemed valuable enough to be saved for decades to come.
Bob, there's a lot of sense to what you say. Problem is, no matter how meticulous a guy is, "restoration" always entails a lot of compromise with what is possible to accomplish in this time and place. One problem with "patina" that I hope is somehow being addressed by conscientious owners, and that is the fact that rust is cancer, however aesthetically satisfying it may be. It is only headed one way, it's progressive, and when it has "metastasized", can progress alarmingly fast.
I pine for the days prior to January 9, 1997 when most Americans, especially antique automobile enthusiasts, did not utter the word "patina."
On all the tours I've ever been on, the folks in the "rough" cars always seem to have as much fun as the folks in the "museum pieces!"
I work in the conservation department of a museum. In my world there is restoration, preservation and conservation.
Restoration is when you attempt to make an object appear as it did when it was originally made. Actually pretty hard to do since generally some "core material" is always sacrificed. In car restoration this means metal. And then there is the absence of actual materials used when the object was originally made. This could mean paint and upholstery material in the case of the model T.
Preservation is the attempt to keep an object original but with minimal intervention. This might mean removing rust in places but keeping what's left of the paint.
Conservation is the attempt to keep everything as originally found ... rust and all. Mouse turds and dust/dirt removal would be part of the process, but attempts are made to keep everything as part of the history of the object.
The Antiques Road Show did a lot for teaching people that in some cases leaving a piece of furniture "as is" with minimal intervention might be important. American Restoration on the other hand undid all of that. Still ... many people want their antiques spiffed up.
I appreciate all three for different reasons.
Ever notice how the rough ones always seem to run really well when on tour? Maybe it is not what's on the outside that counts?
I found that on the rare occasions when I put mine in a few of the shows around here. Very flashy national first place winners were rolled out of their trailers and the owners would crank the darn things until they were blue in the face. My "rustic" speedster would start up on the second pull and idle so slow you could count the explosions .. and accelerate smoothly to a run. I always chalked it up to the fact that I did all my own mechanical work and tweaking .... and they generally had someone else do their engine work and had no real connection with their cars inner workings.
" Ever notice how the rough ones always seem to run really well when on tour? Maybe it is not what's on the outside that counts? " LOL wink nod!
I've had near perfect old cars in the past until I bought a 66 F100 short box Styleside with 49K miles and original paint that was rubbed through in a few places but still about 90% there.
That truck gets more attention and requires less worry (about people scratching it, etc) than any old car I've ever owned.
Needless to say, it converted me.
So...when I went looking for a Model T, I knew I wanted one still wearing a lot of original paint and not restored. I wanted one that looked like it would be rolling into town on a Saturday morning during the Great Depression.
The 24 Touring I bought from John fits that description to a T (pun intended).
I'm not against the perfect cars (my 54 Mainline will be that way once it's painted), but I'm finding that I enjoy the weathered cars a lot more.
As far as what's the best way to go...heck man, do what you want. Life's too short to let anyone guilt you into anything, especially when it's your hobby.
I take the option restore it then drive the heck out of it. In a few years it will "look" old, after all is that not what those with a patina are looking for?
If you have a perfectly restored car you won't want to drive it.
If you have an original car you won't want to drive it for fear of destroying the originality.
If you have a patina you look to maintain you will not retain the originality of the car as you drive.
Thank you for the comments.
I bought my '25 RPU as an unrestored, but messed with rusty/primer "rustic" vehicle. But it is going to be used, so needed a coat of paint. While you are at it kicked in, and next thing I knew we had stripped it to the frame and bead blasted all the sheet metal, epoxy primed, and fixed anything wrong with the wood. Then striped the frame and repainted with a brush, cleaned engine and axles, also painted with a brush. Then, chassis back together. Now, the sheetmetal can be painted outside and then reassembled. While i guess this is a "restoration" no one is 600 sanding the frame, or doing anything silly. It is going to look like it is a normal car, not a fossil.
I've gotten a few which I thought just needed "finishing up," but I always ended up taking them down to the bare frame and starting over.
Derek posted, "When this "patina" fad passes, the rusty ones will get cut up into hotrods while the nice restored cars will be deemed valuable enough to be saved for decades to come."
Maybe, but I don't think so (I hope not!); I think folks will snatch them up, and those that aren't "Rip Van Winkle" quality will get restored as an "easy restoration."
At least that's my hope!!
David I think you are right. My uncle restored A' and T's from the 1960's until his passing in the mid 1990's. For himself and others. In the late 80's he put together an old rusty T pickup that ran perfect but looked as if it just came out of a barn after 50 years. He had so much more fun with it than the restored cars that he sold the other T's and kept one A. It was a hit where ever he drove it.
Drive safe and often
I concur with Erik (s), the word "Patina" can go away. I see people creating patina, or a weathered look, no thanks. Then they clear coat over it. Or they clear coat over a faded or panel that has surface rust. This confuses me. It is very difficult for me not to restore my T Speedster to perfect restored.
Here's my thought. If you're going to do anything with it, why not restore it? All of this "preservation" stuff seems to go against the natural progression of things to me. If you want to keep a car the way it was, then there's no reason to do anything. It's impossible to freeze something in a moment, so why try? Either the "patina" is just going to get better, in which case you'll leave it and let it age, or you will get sick of it and make it factory new so the process can start anew. Either let it age or not, but don't think you're going to make it stay in a "perfect moment" forever.
Thankfully, I've noticed less of the types of folks in the Model T world who haughtily look down their noses at anything but perfectly restored cars than I have in other segments of the old car hobby.
I've found the Model A crowd to be worse and don't even get me started on the Mustang and Corvette folks. They may actually need professional mental care.
Thankfully, the hobby in general is moving away from arguments about microscopic variations of color shades and whether bolt heads should be rotated a certain way. Sometimes I wonder whether folks like that are even "car people" or if they've just found a new venue for their OCD issues.
The opposite end of the spectrum is the fake patina thing. It's ridiculous and looks silly. Or...using the word patina to refer to something completely rusty. Once the paint is completely gone, a car needs paint....period.
What I'm glad IS catching on, and welcoming new converts, is the notion of leaving good solid cars (like my truck pictured above in this thread) alone and doing what you can to preserve them. Old cars like this have stories to tell about how the factory created them and what the previous owners experienced in them. Once you strip a car like that down and make it "perfect", you've destroyed all that....and then it's as antiseptic and boring as a surgical instrument.
I've had frame-off restored cars and what I end up talking to people about at car gatherings is usually whether something is "correct" and not the car itself and the joy of owning it.
I'm about to get my 54 Mainline painted after a long frame-off restoration. It'll be perfect. It was my high school car. Now that it's almost done, I find myself wishing I'd left it alone and could sit in it like it was when I was 16.
(Message edited by rustyfords on March 09, 2017)
Some people would leave this car "as is" or preserve it but it has had the paint removed at some point in its long life and the rust has started. I plan to drive and enjoy it "as is" for a while and then pull it in the shop and restore it back to what it was but keep the original leather seats because they do show age but are very sound and can be replaced later if needed. I know this car will stand out either way. I do plan to take lots of pictures of every part before and after and plan to post them here so anyone else with a 13 can see what they need to know to rebuild another car the way it should be. I feel by doing a before and after picture and posting it where anyone can see it will keep the history and information alive. If someone had not sanded the paint off 50 or more years ago, this would have been a shame to restore. Now it needs it to last another 100+ years.
That is a shame Bob. If it was still wearing its original paint, it would be a gem.
Still...what a great, solid old girl to start out with.
Geez Bob, what a great old car. I'd be tempted to wipe it down with something that would protect it and drive it like it is for as long as I could get away with it. Maybe I'd look at And figure having the paint stripped is part of its history too. Anyway, it's a great old car. Congratulations.
There's been a lot of comments indicating that rust can be coated with "something" that will protect . . . the solid metal ? The rust ? What is the chemistry here ? Rust is cancer. The oxidation process is progressive, and rusty surfaces hold moisture that leads to accelerating the process. Eventually, all there will be is rust if it is not removed and the oxidation process arrested.
Rich...as a disclaimer....I'm not advocating embracing rust.
However, I am a chemist.
If you isolate Iron Oxide from Oxygen then yes...it stops the oxidation process.
So...rust (iron oxide) sitting on top of iron, then coated with something impervious to oxygen, will remain in that state without progressing...indefinitely.
The POR15 coatings use this very basic chemistry as the basis for their long-term treatments.
My 1969 F100 has a nice patina. Garage kept but don't worry about scratches and nicks.
Don, thank you for the informed opinion. I had always feared rust kept on rusting below the coating.
I don't know if this is the place for this, but it IS rust! There is a particular finish that I really like, and the only place I can think of right now where I've seen it is on schoolyard playground equipment that was built out of iron pipe, many years ago, like maybe WW2 era. A rare thing to find nowadays. However, I have seen, several times, this very old iron pipe playground equipment that has rusted where children's hands have worn of the zinc galvanizing years ago, but continual use by all those little hands grabbing in the same place continually, has actually polished the oxidation (rust) to a very high luster, and a very rich chocolate brown color. Must have something to do with the oil from those little hands, continually polishing and working just enough oil into the rust. I've also noticed that whatever that rich, brown polished surface is, it seems to be somewhat durable, even for a long time after the playground toys have been abandoned, and I just wonder if there is any modern chemical (or otherwise) process than can duplicate that rich color and high polish on iron or steel. Sorry to "digress a bit" on this thread, but something about it reminded me of that beautiful color,......harold
P.S. Hey George (metallurgist) from Cherry Hill,....you out there?
Actually, I missed that Don Allen is a chemist. Does what I just "tried" to describe make any sense Don?