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Which porthole Buick would you pick?

OC Blog 238 Photo 01
OC Blog 238 Photo 02

I get it! Like you pull up to the traffic light in a porthole Buick that looks like it escaped from a Mad Max movie, the light changes, you stomp the 750-hp HEMI hidden under the Buick’s hood and you blow the scissor doors off the poor kid’s tuner car.

That fantasy has been around for a long time in different variations, but it works in reverse, too. One time Ken Buttolph and I were riding around in Florida with the late Rick Carroll in his Duesenberg Derham Tourster. A young man in a Datsun Z car teased us at a red light and Rick showed him how fast a Duesie can really accelerate!

SEMA 2015 was loaded with so many non-shiny cars that we estimate product pushers at the show saved millions of dollars in body work and paint and got a big bang for less bucks. The “barn find” is not only trending, it’s entrenched. And I think it is cool. After all, I have never had a restored car in my life. All of my cars have scratches and tears and honest to goodness patina.

However, if I had my choice of the two Buicks you see here, I would definitely pick the shiny jet-back coupe over the raunchy-looking ragtop. I understand that the convertible is a new car underneath that drives great and goes like snot and has a famous owner. So, it would be great to drive, but really, it’s not great to look at. It just isn’t. It would look a lot nicer if it were restored.

My friends Zack Miller at Motorbooks and Ryan Brutt at Hot Rod tell me that books and articles about barn finds sell like crazy. Jerry Heasley calls them “Rare Finds,” but the basic idea is the same. My problem is that I don’t have a real clear idea of what a barn find is anymore.

Time was when a collector who found cars in a barn was saving them from getting chicken pooped and rusting away. Today, the chicken poop adds to the value and the more rust the car has on it, the more people like it. I can dig the concept of pulling nice old cars out of a barn, but I have trouble with the idea of putting a junker up on a pedestal just because it was found in a barn instead of a salvage yard.

Oh well! I’ve never liked what everyone else does all of my life, so I guess I’m not going to start doing that now. My cars are probably right in the middle between barn find and show winner and that’s how I like them. The important things are that they go, stop and provide lots of fun. But I’ll still take the shiny Buick.

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