With everything gained by a factory-perfect restoration something inescapable is lost. With age, the cumulative effects of regular use build up on every car. Whether they’re scuffs over the scuttle from loading luggage, or pock-marks accrued from entering in Le Mans, a car’s wear is part of its history. Porsche themselves still display the 1987 Le Mans-winning 962 wearing the marks of its victory. As lovely as perfectly restored cars are, this quality is lost with the patina. For fans of Man in the High Castle, this is what Robert Childan would refer to as wu; a form of truth in authenticity.
This 1961 356B spent its life in California, apparently living a gentle life. When it arrived in Germany and met its new owner it was nearly free of rust. The Ivory paintwork was virtually intact, and even the transmission matched the Kardex. Rather than embarking on a factory-perfect restoration, the owner opted to preserve the car’s patina.
To be clear, this car never raced- at least, not that we know of. The faded racing stripes, numbers, and hood straps are additions by the current owner, and were applied in an effort to mimic the condition of the original paint underneath. Upon closer inspection it’s clear that the 75-horsepower engine has been refurbished. The interior, once red leatherette, is now brown. The original patina is merely a vehicle, not the raison d’etre for this 356.
We’re not here to decry the owner for what they’ve done- the car has not been defaced for all time, by any measure. It sounds like the natural wear in the finish is helping them to enjoy the car freely and without fear of every scratch or stray stone. Though different to Mark Pribanic’s unrestored car, this 356 affirms that patina is not for 17th century oil paintings and rust-free 60-year old farm trucks any more.
For more on this 356’s journey, find the recent special edition of Porsche Klassik magazine 70 Years of Porsche Racecars, or follow this link.