This 911’s patina-covered history is a case for preservation over restoration

A fully restored classic is an incredible thing, able to teleport you back in time to the very moment a car first hit the showroom floor. It’s not, however, always the right path to take, especially if the automobile in question has a particularly interesting story to share. A car is only original once. Porsche restorer Alan Drayson faced the tough choice between patina and restoration when stumbling across a rusty 911, ultimately choosing to let the car tell its tale on this week’s latest Petrolicious video.  

While in Japan searching for a restoration candidate, Drayson found this car, a 1972 Porsche 911 S Targa with only 32,000 miles on the odometer, squirreled away beneath an open lean-to. Sitting for over 30 years, the Porsche was missing its fuel pump, covered in surface oxidation, but otherwise complete and original. Options such as a gasoline heater, targa top, and heated front windscreen not only made it unique, but provide a narrative on how the original owner used and enjoyed the 911. The Japanese-market Porsche spoke to Drayson in a way that previous cars hadn’t, driving him to purchase the car—not for restoration, but preservation.

Once the car was back in the UK, Drayson may not have taken the full Roadkill approach of throwing gas in the carb and firing it up it as-is, but he did take steps to make it run with its history intact. The brakes were refurbished and engine and transmission rebuilt, providing the 911 with a solid mechanical foundation, but that’s as far as the work went.

Now the Porsche’s main purpose is to be driven. “I do drive it a completely different way than I do a restored car or one of my other cars,” Drayson says, “It connects you more with the way the car was originally.”

Its rust, imperfect paint, and perfectly broken-in leather interior, serve as constant reminders of the all previous adventures that this 911’s been on. Its true that restored cars might give you a view of a car’s humble beginnings, but preserved ones add you to their historical timeline, and sometimes that’s worth holding onto.