Please look, Don't Touch! It's a Survivor.
If you have attended a local car show, I'm sure you have seen those vehicle with the window sign, "Please Look, Don't Touch!" A message intended for spectators, but something some automotive enthusiast wished the owners would also take note. Please Keep it Original, and Don't Touch.
This isn't completely new trend in the collector car market, but lately it is a little different and somewhat hard to evaluate. Collectors/enthusiast seem to be willing to pay much more for the original untouched survivor. The desire for original authentic survivors has always been a top choice in the market. For years, an excellent and very clean example was the top example, but now there is a move to the well worn and aged survivor. The visual difference between a well cared for original looks very much like a fully restored example. Many collectors are enjoying the visual look of barn find survivor. The ultimate statement of, "it's only new once." I think there are several things going on with the buyers and these cars. For years people were finding these cars and restoring them, now it is hard to find a good old and original examples, which makes them exciting when they are found. A well worn vintage car has very interesting and has more intriguing stories to tell. The car that is restored to new condition is basically waiting to have a story to tell.
For example, at a recent Auctions America at Hilton Head Island auction, there was a 1957 Porsche 356A 1600 Speedster that sold for $605,000 (before any buyer or seller fees). Much higher than the auction house estimate ($200,000 - $250,000), and very possible a lot more than the seller had expected. What make this car interesting is it's overall condition. It wasn't a car that had own first place at Pebble Beach, or was owned by someone great, but it was what many would call a survivor or untouched. When you look at it and think, someone parked this car in storage for 40 years, why? It is visually clear the car was driven and enjoyed for many years, but why park it? How interesting to see a painted side mirror. Were the headlight grills original to the car? Interesting that the rear center caps rusted more than the front ones. So cool. It would be fun to drive this car as it is. Should I wash it?
Why would a tired, non-running, and dirty Porsche 356 be worth more than one that was restored to like new? A reason, it's easy to find a restored and pretty 356 Speedster, but it's not easy to find an original and authentic 356 Speedster. I'm not saying the reason would make sense. For some people, this can be vert hard to understand. Why would someone pay so much for a dirty car, when they could have bought a clean one an drove it. This isn't the point.
We, at Ehrlich Motorwerks, find the survivor "barn find" super cool and desirable, at the same time we appreciate the well kept original and fully restored examples. We love all kinds of vehicle, yet our greatest interest is in the very original, "Type A" survivors. We appreciate the years of authentic dirt on a vehicle, but we also enjoy a very clean vehicle and well cared for original vintage vehicle. Our viewpoint is, the car did not come with the option old and oily dirt, so it's okay to wash and clean a car. Love the natural authentic aging and wear, but dirt isn't needed. We don't care much for the poorly restored, or poorly cared for examples. We can appreciate a running and driving project or rough condition car, if and only if the owner is proud of it.
What matters most about any vehicle is that it has to excites the owner. It really doesn't matter what the other guy or gal thinks, as long as you enjoy it.