There’s a special place in our hearts for cars that still wear factory paint. Such classics are survivors of a different variety, and they tell more stories than their fully restored counterparts.
These kinds of collectibles are called ‘patina’ cars, and they are quite rare because the first impulse of a restorer when he starts a project is to fix things up and make everything shiny and new right away. But a car with patina? Well, only time and the climate can age its paint and bodywork that way. It’s considered a shame to ‘fix’ that kind of aging. Minimal rust is acceptable as well, as long as it isn’t located in a structural section of the body. We aren’t talking about the basket cases and rolling trash heaps, okay? A patina car can only deteriorate so much before it becomes a useless piece of junk.
The sort of car we appreciate must be in good running condition, with the engine, suspension, electronics, and braking system in good working order. It must still be solid underneath and drivable. All the trim must be complete, and everything has to work. Most important, the car should have a combination of weathering, fading, and rusting that is aesthetically pleasing.
This 1951 Plymouth Concord is one such car. It’s part of the fleet of Alfred Perez, a local restorer who is known for his love of old American metal. In fact, elderly folks often show up at his shop and offer to sell him their rides because they know he has a soft spot for these models. That’s how this Plymouth came to be in his possession, actually.
Under the hood is a flathead six-cylinder motor. All Alfred had to do was overhaul the mechanicals and it was ready to drive.
The Concord already has a number of fans, and it has even appeared in a local indie flick. Alfred drove it to Batangas from Quezon City, and it was used and abused during the movie shoot. Not once did the car falter. And there really was no need to baby it like the other restored classics in his collection. “It takes decades for patina to develop,” he says.
And the aging process is so unique. Look closely at the paint on this car and you will see cracks on the paint that spread out like a spiderweb. There is nothing quite like the look and texture. We are sure there are methods to duplicate this, but the real thing is a sight to behold.
Alfred won’t mind if people run their hands over the bodywork or even lean on the Plymouth. Another cool thing about patina cars is you don’t have to baby them or park them behind glass. You can drive them anywhere and not worry at all about dings or scratches.
Established classic-car shows abroad usually have a class made especially for patina or preserved cars. There’s something about these time capsules that everyone loves, and if you own such a car, you’re pretty lucky. How do you stop the deterioration? We’ve heard the best way is to keep driving and maintaining it like you would an everyday ride. Sounds simple enough.
NOTE: This article originally appeared in Top Gear Philippines' February 2017 issue.