27 June 2013

Preserved, not restored, 1938 Alfa wins big

I thought I would use this week’s column to do a survey.
 
Two weeks ago I was judging at The Elegance in Hershey, Pa., a spectacular event featuring 65 of the world’s finest classic cars displayed in the garden of the famous Hershey Hotel.
 
A 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Spider, owned by Bob and Sandy Bahre of Alton, N.H, took home the Governor’s Cup, which is The Elegance’s equivalent of Best in Show.
 
Traditionally, only the finest automobiles — restored well beyond showroom condition so that every single component counts as a work of art — win the top honours at major Concours d’Elegance events.
 
At the Elegance the judging team thought outside the box, and selected the unrestored Alfa (other than a paint job 63 years ago) as the best-of-show winner.
 
The total production of Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B models amounted to 22 in 1938. Of those, only five were built in the Corto, 110-inch short wheelbase configuration. Only four have survived.
 
A best-of-show award at a major Concours can often add considerable value to vehicles and add considerably to its provenance.
 
So back to that survey: Do you think a preservation car (even one that has received one paint job, some 63 years ago) is just as worthy to be the recipient of a best-of-show award compared to a pristine vehicle that might have undergone a $250,000 restoration?
 
The marketplace has already established that some survivor cars are worth more than restored ones.
 
My personal taste will always sway towards the unrestored vehicle; anyone with an endless supply of cash can restore a car to a standard well beyond a condition that the vehicle was first delivered in, basically a trailer queen.
 
To my mind, a vehicle is only original once and a historic artifact in its natural state for future generations to enjoy.
 
Would you prefer some wear and tear (natural patina) on a piece of 19th century antique furniture, or would you prefer if to be buffed with some 000 grade steel wool and refinished in a coat of shiny clear urethane?
 
Feel free to drop me an email with your thoughts

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