Wear and tear gains favor in U.S. vintage car market

Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:18pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Gerry Shih

PEBBLE BEACH, California (Reuters) - One sunny afternoon this week, a well-heeled crowd was milling around a showroom at Gooding and Co, the antique car auctioneer, to preview the prized relics that would soon go on the block.

They paused to admire the sumptuous 1929 Duesenberg and spotless postwar Ferraris. They appraised a gleaming MacLaren F1 and the perfectly restored 1936 Bugatti Atalante — a specimen rumored to be worth $10 million.

But what stopped many of the car aficionados in their tracks was a decidedly less-than-perfect Bugatti, an aqua-blue racecar from 1925 with worn upholstery, peeling paint on the hood and surface rust wrapped around its rear strut.

Despite the superficial flaws, the attention lavished on the Type 35, as the Bugatti is known, embodied an accelerating trend among car collectors that values authenticity and originality above cosmetic perfection.

In the last few decades, a growing number of hobbyists flooded the market with flawless restoration pieces and restoration experts exhausted every possibility for technological improvement. But now more and more collectors are prizing original untouched cars known as "barn finds" — vintage vehicles that had been locked up and forgotten for a half century or more.


"They drag them out of a barn after 50 years and don't even clean the dust off" before they are submitted for competition, said Ian Davey, the co-owner of RX Autoworks, a Vancouver restorer who gained worldwide praise last year for an award-winning Alfa Romeo restoration.

"I guess it's not good news for my line of work," he added with a chuckle.   Continued...