My Car Quest

February 23, 2024

Patina – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

by Mike –

Hudson Hornet

The definition of patina from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: |pəˈtēnə|, noun

1 a : a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color

b : a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use

2: an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character

3: a superficial covering or exterior

I pointed out to a friend recently that the interior of his original 1960s valuable collector car was dirty and he replied that is “patina”.

We were joking around but it started me thinking about what is good patina and when does the patina indicate that the car should be restored?

The Hudson Hornet interior below is all original and it looks wonderful.

Hudson Hornet

This car is also pictured at the top, the paint is not original. At some point the owner decided that the paint and some of the chrome needed to be replaced but he did not touch the interior which to me looked nearly new.

This Iso Grifo below (Iso Grifo For Sale – A Forest Find) certainly has an interesting patina and not much paint left.

Iso Grifo

Darren Frank tells me that GT Motorcar were the US East Coast Iso Grifo importer in the 1960s. Their sticker is still on this Iso Grifo, so it seems very likely that this car has its original paint.

Iso Grifo

Is this original paint, and the patina, worth keeping?

It certainly would be nice to save that sticker.

Below is the 40+ year old interior of my 1966 Bizzarrini GT 5300. It does not look that old but it is different than cars that have been recently fully restored with the goal of winning a Concours d’Elegance.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Ken Phillips, the original owner of this Bizzarrini, told me that Paul Newman once sat in this car – so Paul Newman has touched parts of this interior with his hands and sat on the seat – this very leather! Now, that is some patina worth saving.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Can a classic car with original interior or original paint win a Concours d’Elegance (not the preservation class)?

This topic has been discussed in Car Collector Clichés And Contradictions.

Please share your comments with me and other readers.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Hudsen Hornet logo

Patina - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Article Name
Patina - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Patina is a word that is used quite frequently in the collector car world and may be misunderstood.


  1. Stephen Mitchell says

    Love the Hudson and can only imagine what drivers in the Carrera Panamericana must have experienced driving them in the race!

  2. Mike Gulett says

    Yeah Stephen, they were successful race cars in their day.

    I had a strange experience today on the road I passed a Hudson Hornet! I have never seen one on the road before and I did not have my camera with me.

    Interesting that I see one on the same day that I write about one on My Car Quest.

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