Never Stop Driving #69: Enjoy the Ride

Cameron Neveu

I kill my cars. This declaration, which I made in the latest issue of the Hagerty Drivers Club (HDC) magazine, will probably come back to bite me when it comes time to sell a member of my fleet. And I’m okay with that.

For the September/October edition of the magazine, we focused on imperfect cars and dedicated all 140 pages to what we called “The Patina Issue.” It’s very much a pet project because I’ve long wanted to celebrate driver-quality machines and the people who own them. The car world is obsessed with perfect paint and low-mile classic cars, and I thought the cars that get driven, without worrying about a few nicks and scratches, deserved some limelight too.

Readers agreed. HDC member Alan Keisner wrote, “Thank you all for this wonderful issue,” and Frank Hopper, another HDC member, simply said, “For all my fellow old car enthusiasts, let’s just enjoy the ride.” These guys—and many other readers—understood the inclusive message we hoped to communicate.

You can read some of the patina material on, but for the full experience, you need the printed magazine, just one benefit of the Hagerty Drivers Club. HDC members—some 800,000 strong—highly rate the printed magazine, a validation for the extreme care we gladly devote to this seemingly anachronistic media product. We call the magazine a “lean back” experience and imagine our members sitting in their favorite easy chair, relaxing and reveling in its glossy pages when they’re not out driving. HDC membership is available to anyone regardless of whether you insure a car with Hagerty. Give it a try via this link so you receive the issue we just sent to the printer: A doozy that highlights the end of Camaro production and contains a beautifully written coming-of-age 1981 cross-country road trip in a Checker Cab.

The car world is mostly consumed with the UAW strike. I’m no labor expert or CEO, but our friends over at The Autopian published a piece that explains at least one underlying issue: The coming proliferation of car models as EVs join gas-powered cars. One estimate suggests that the number of models will quickly increase from 400 to 600, which reminds me of something Bob Lutz told me he heard from Lee Iacocca: “Don’t plant too many flowers because you can’t piss on all of them.” In other words, don’t dilute sales and marketing efforts. The trouble is that car companies need all these models, both the new EVs and the gas-powered cars and trucks that will continue to fund them for many years. A tricky puzzle.

What makes an EV or a battery American made? That debate matters because the answer will determine which electric cars are available for a $7500 tax credit. The Wall Street Journal published a terrific summary.

Tesla is in court defending itself in a civil trial brought by the estate of an owner who died when his Model 3 veered off the road. At issue is Tesla’s Autopilot system and whether Tesla is liable for driver, or in this case possibly computer, error. I’ve mentioned many times that Tesla’s use of terms like “Autopilot” and “Full Self Driving” is overreaching at best and closer to reckless. In opening arguments, Tesla’s lawyer admitted that the driver assist systems are “basically fancy cruise control.” Wow. This is an important case.

This past week, we posted the latest in our series on homebuilt cars, “Homegrown,” which celebrates ingenuity and craftsmanship. In this edition, George Carter turned a Corvette into a street legal Le Mans racer and put some 8000 street miles on his creation. Wow! Also, the Barn Find Hunter, Tom Cotter, filmed one of the oddest and most interesting cars ever made, the Lotus Europa—which also happens to be a personal favorite of Rob Siegel, our resident poet mechanic. He’s documented the joys and horrors of ownership here.

Have a great weekend,

P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment HERE.

Please share this newsletter with your car-obsessed friends and encourage them to sign up for the free weekly email. The easy-to-complete form is here. And if you’d like to support the efforts of Hagerty Media, please consider joining the Hagerty Drivers Club.

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    Yes, I agree whole heartedly on patina. I’ve resurrected a couple that were not drivable, and driven, still do, those that may or may not be pretty to the eye. The white or cream color primer under a black or dark top coat is evident in patina. Why they do that is beyond me. A Very Good article, and I enjoy Just Driving my cars. That’s what I bought them for. Nuff said!

    Larry, I’ve had a couple of Triumphs fir quite a few years. I enjoy both working on them and driving them. Recently I bought a TD in completely original condition with 3k original miles. It looks me months to get over not daring to touch it, but I just don’t want a museum piece. So my cars will have a few stone chips, and here and there will be minor signs of use, but all the pictures have us smiling!

    I think that the big car manufacturers heed Bob Lutz’s comment on not to plant too many flowers. You can’t spread the overhead and reap the profits on a skewed line of products that all require equal marketing and logistical support.

    Late to the party, but the Patina issue was inspiring and I may just leave my ’64 Impala SS as is. After all, she’s been mine since 1982 and is filled with memories. And I have so much enjoyed her ambulatory condition for a year plus now. I just feel wonderful when I get behind the wheel, hear the rumble of the glass packs and get the inevitable thumbs up or comment when I’m out. People still love old cars and the fraternity is a great place to be!

    This Patina thing is a bit out of hand.

    We the drivers have always been here. Most of the market is made up of good clean cars that may not be perfect but still look good.

    We never called it a Patina till people started to put rusting cars back on the road. Even then it was just an original car.

    Then the Rat Rods arrived and that is where the term Patina took off. In some cases some leave the rot and so much anymore they create the rot with paint to simulate worn paint and surface rust.

    I really think the term Patina is just way to general and not specific to what is really going on. All of these takes are fine but lets file them under what they really are.

    I think too little care is focused on original well card for cars. They may not be perfect but they are far better than calling them a patina. My 63 Ford was a great example of preserved car. It was not perfect but the paint was good and the interior looked like new.

    Few nicks here and there but not what I would term patina.

    Better yet we called them drivers for years. They were cars that looked decent but not perfect but you could drive any place.

    I feel the term Drivers should be reserected to better identify what most of us have. They are far from the faded paint and surface rusted cars we see associated with Patina.

    On EVs: I’m a tech person and I don’t object to progress. The inherent problems with EVs, though, are that you can’t get a full charge in two minutes like when filling up your gas tank, and that batteries lose capacity with time, unlike a gas tank that keeps being the same size no matter how old the car is. These problems are in conflict with our very idea of driving – freedom, get-up-and-go. That’s probably why PHEVs are kind of the optimal breed now. (Also, old batteries are an environmental nightmare, which contradicts with the auto industry hype of EVs being good for the environment, but that’s another story.) I still support EV development, simply because gas is going to run out at some point.

    For now, we need our gas cars. But governments are starting to put limits on ICE models. So I guess I’ll stick to my old car and truck.

    I’m with you. PHEV are the best of both worlds and my hunch we’ll see more over the next five years. I was just doing some research on the topic today.

    Larry, not sure if you have found a way to look into my den, but your word picture of a member sitting in their easy chair with the latest issue of the magazine is so accurate it’s like you have been watching me! Then again, I’m sure I’m not alone in that enjoyment.
    The commenter feelings about “patina” are, predictably, all over the board. But hyperV6 has drilled down to some interesting points: that the term has been overblown and applied to too much, and that we really need to go back to some of the older, better terminology. “Survivor”, “original”, “driver”, “30-footer”, “clap-trap” are a few suggestions. Those terms indicate some different levels of what all has loosely been lumped together under “patina” of late, IMO. In a few shows I’ve gone to, there were actually a category to enter called “Driver”, and I applaud those organizers who want to recognize those of us who don’t have “showroom perfect” vehicles – but just decent cars that we care for and use without fearing a rock chip.

    Actually, I think the point is that people really DON’T know what you mean. One all inclusive word used to describe many, many different types of exterior condition? Doesn’t work well at all, IMO. Mentally puts “rust bucket” in the same category as “#3 condition” doesn’t it?

    This is a good sentiment. If nothing else, it makes me feel better about my less-than-perfect-looking sports-car-daily-driver.

    So, is your car “gently-used” or a “total P.O.S.”? Because my point is that if you just say it “has patina”, there is no differentiation.

    Yes, the term is pretty broad, but it does convey the idea of “doesn’t have to be 100% shiny and perfect”. For this purpose, the term is OK. When you need to have more detail, then one word definitely isn’t enough. My car is 14 years old, looks very nice, if you stand a few feet away you wouldn’t notice almost any issues, and mechanically it’s great. But it does has minor scuffs and it isn’t a no-miles car, it has a patch on the cloth roof, some curb rash on the wheels, etc. In some circles, it might be looked down upon. For people who don’t mind some patina, the car’s external look isn’t a deterrence. Whether or not they’d like it would depends on many factors, and that’s where an actual conversation and a closer look come in.

    Agree about “looking into my den”/me sitting by the pool/beach in the shade or by the fireplace in the winter. Would so much rather look at a paper magazine than this little screen on my phone…which now has it’s place in my life, it’s just not as enjoyable.

    Regarding the Tesla liability case, it’s remarkable that Tesla is allowed to market and sell such a system because it’s only a certified 2 system, basically simple cruise control. As a person with a 35 year careen in engineering autonomous systems, the “camera only” Tesla sensors are completely inadequate and will never pass Level 3 requirements. Mercedes has approached this correctly, using a qualified set of sensor types and road condition monitors, and have met level 3 certification.
    Based on this, I believe that Tesla is completely liable for these deaths and that the NHTSA needs to halt the sale of their hands-free system.

    Whoa. This case will have consequences. It’s interesting that it wasn’t settled before going to court.

    Like many people my age, I will never buy an EV. I don’t like many things about them, I don’t like the extra expense and what these vehicles do to the environment because of the mining practices necessary to create the batteries. I don’t think that global warming is a) as bad as we’ve been led to believe, b) solely due to mankind, c) able to be changed by mankind and d) will never be acted upon by China, by far the largest emitter of so-called “greenhouse gasses”. The so-called remedy is a ridiculously useless infringement upon my freedom and will diminish all of our lives immeasurably as time goes on. Stop writing about and advocating for EVs, and by default the other things that will diminish our freedoms—like the ability to drive our cars. If you want to spin off an EV website, magazine, etc., go ahead and if it is sustainable without the rest of us, so be it. I don’t want to read—nor even see—the articles/reviews, etc. nor can I imagine that many of your readership wants to either. Obey the wishes of your customers like me! Stop it!

    Great issue on patina. I’ve had thousands of car and motorcycle magazines cross my threshold, but this is the only magazine that I’ve read and enjoyed every article, cover to cover.

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