My Car Quest

September 27, 2020

Car Collector Clichés And Contradictions

by Mike –

The following are some common, and irritating, classic car clichés that are repeated by collector car luminaries over and over.

Ferrari 275 GTB

Clichés always have a ring of truth to them but there are some inconsistencies and contradictions in these five clichés.

1) It is original only once.

This is a truism but time takes it toll on all things and original cars eventually turn into original cars in bad condition. If they are properly cared for and stored properly they can remain in good condition for many many years. But eventually they will deteriorate to the point of well, bad condition.

2) Do not restore an original car – this always follows number 1.

At what point does this philosophy no longer make sense? The great paintings hanging in the museums of Europe are periodically restored as are the old buildings. If they are not then they would eventually fall into an unrecoverable state. The period between restorations may be a a long time but it is still done.

Cars also will reach a point where they will deteriorate to a point of non-functionality. Will this philosophy toward classic cars change then?

Ferrari 275 GTB

3) It is being driven and used like it was meant to be.

Eventually this will wear out the car – maybe 50 years from now but these cars will deteriorate to the point that they can only be placed in a museum and looked at by future generations. Especially race cars that are driven and used like they were meant to be. Some will also be destroyed in the process.

It can be driven and used like it was meant to be only for so long, especially if it is to be kept original at all costs.

The car that is being driven and used like it was meant to be will never win a best in show at a Pebble Beach like event.

4) Every nut and bolt has been removed and this car has been restored to a condition that is better than when it left the factory new.

Ferrari 275 GTB

We praise these cars because they are better than new and beautiful to look at. It takes a restoration like this to win a major award at a Concours d’Elegance. Yet this is inconsistent with clichés 1 and 2 above. And if this car is then driven and used like it was meant to be it will deteriorate rapidly so that it will never win a Concours.

5) The car is over restored.

This is a bad thing but it is the only way to win best in show at a Concours d’Elegance like Pebble Beach. We worship these winners but then at other moments we criticize the over restored car and we criticize the trailer queen that does not get driven and “used like it was meant to be”. But it is the trailer queen that wins best in show.

If these Pebble Beach winning cars were used like they were meant to be then they would not win Pebble Beach.

Which of the two cars pictured in this post is more valuable? The red one is a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that is all original with only 11,500 miles but still looks to be in great condition.

Ferrari 275 GTB

Ferrari Logo

This is not exactly a perfect comparison from a model point of view but it is reasonably close. One is an alloy body and the other is a 4-cam, the 4-cam will command a higher price with everything else being equal.

What do you think? Let us know in the Comments.

Ferrari Logo

Car Collector Clichés And Contradictions
Article Name
Car Collector Clichés And Contradictions
Common, and irritating, classic car clichés that are repeated by collector car luminaries over and over.


  1. I think the collector car hobby involves valuable commodities, and that context has to be taken into consideration when weighing the validity of the above assertions. When money and potential value is involved, people will say just about anything to make sure their asset is considered more valuable.

    It's all contradictory, because people have different agendas based upon what their specific needs are. The poplular media picks up these trite expressions, and mindlessly repeats them to the point where they become truisisms. I say, buy what pleases uses you, and use it as it gives you pleasure, whether that's only showing it at concours, or driving it, or both if you can live with the reality of what it means to own a driver's car. It's all good.

  2. Gabriele Spangenberg says

    Such an interesting Post, Mike. There seem to be so many different schools of thought.
    In Europe when a painting is restored, the process must be reversible and recognisable. I wonder if you think in cars it would be tha same?

  3. Mike Gulett says


    I agree with what you say. Some people say what the situation calls for, if they are selling it is one position, if they are buying it is another position.

  4. Mike Gulett says


    I do not think that a car restoration can be reversible. Take the silver Ferrari that I use as an example here. Once someone takes that paint off it will be gone forever. However, it can be restored to look exactly like it did when new, or close to it. Some of the original materials many not be available, however.

    The point that I wanted to make in this article is the contradictions of these different opinions. I have heard these contradicting positions being spoken by the same person many times. Not just one person but many. You can see it on TV and in magazines and in blogs.

  5. Gabriele Spangenberg says

    So interesting. It probably depends also which cer is being restored and by whom. I have had my 2l 911 restored because I want to drive it safely.A friend of mine has just restored his (structurally very healthy and very fast)Alfa TZ1 by bringing back the original panels(which had been replaced by new ones). It shows it´s history with pride, carrying for example an original Targa Florio sticker. That car probably would have been restored to look "as new" a couple of years ago. Many people today would walk past the car and claim it to be in bad condition and in need of restoration.Where do you draw the line?

  6. Mike Gulett says


    I think that each owner has the right to do what pleases them with their car. But there are people who will criticize the various choices based on their biases.

    There is another whole discussion we can have on resto-mods and non-authentic restorations. Maybe this will be the subject of a future article.

  7. Gabriele Spangenberg says

    Yes, great idea. I shall be looking forward to reading that. Sorry to ask though: what are resto-mods?

  8. Gabriele,

    A resto-mod is an American term that refers to a car that has been restored but to a modern form. So, modern suspension, brakes, wheels and maybe a new modern engine. The idea is that the car looks old, sort of, but drives like a new car.

    This is done to American cars such as 1960s Camaros and Mustangs.

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