Restoration Philosophy

restoration (rès´te-râ´shen)
1. To bring back into existence or use
2. To return to an original condition

The true craft of automotive restoration seeks to make itself invisible.

If you go to any major concours today, you’ll see that a restored vehicle can truly be a work of art. The senses are over-powered by the beauty of the workmanship represented. The paint is liquid. The chrome reflects every detail. The leather interior looks like fine furniture...

Venture to any major vintage race event today and you will see an awesome display of vintage race machines. The sights, sounds and raw power displayed on the track will excite even the most timid into visions of being in the drivers seat….

Yes, these experiences indeed seem to be a "walk back in time"; a chance for the casual observer and the car owner to relive past events. These cars certainly do have the capacity to carry us back in history like it was only yesterday.

A tough question arises, however: Is this "living history" here, or "re-created history" with these cars and their restorations?

An authentic restoration not only restores function and appearance but also preserves history. The history is in not only the aluminum, steel and fiberglass pieces themselves but also the original design and workmanship that make up the whole.

Should that paint really be that shiny? Should those wire wheels be chromed or painted? Should that engine be a dry sump or a wet sump? Is that acceleration and braking far better than it ever really was? Are these cars restored to how they truly were? Are the cars really representative of historical fact?

In order to begin to answer these questions, one must first understand that a top quality restoration is much more than "skin deep". For example, when someone examines a restored car, maybe they should be looking beyond the exterior finish, the fit of the panels, or how the car performs. A truly knowledgeable restorer or collector may have questions about the authenticity of small components and details. Such items as the use of period correct fasteners, casting dates on mechanical parts, English wheel marks on the underside of a body panel, sand bent exhaust pipes rather than mandrel bends…

Granted, these are questions that the average person, amateur collector and vintage racer might find extreme. And it does not suggest the use of old, unsafe or worn out parts on a race car or a show car. But, as the art of collecting significant sports/racing cars continues to evolve, some of the more astute collectors are seeking out the cars with the best level of providence and/or the highest levels of restoration.

At the highest levels of collecting, credible and verifiable research and documentation becomes very important. The research and documentation becomes the building blocks needed to provide the most authentic restoration possible. Most would agree that it makes little sense to expend perhaps thousands of hours, and thousands of dollars on a restoration, without first doing the proper amount of research.

The standards bar for collecting and restoration is constantly being raised through knowledge and experience. Even though you may own the first Porsche or Ferrari to win at Le Mans, there is a growing recognition that one needs to strive to correctly restore or preserve that historical car, if one is to be a good steward of history. Unfortunately, sports/racing cars are not like fine art. The very nature of a racecar causes it to be quickly outdated, improved upon or modified. Many of the important racecars of the past are far removed from their true, original condition. How far removed is a matter that involves painstaking research.

The search for definitive information requires a collector or restorer to become a detective of sorts, and to look for all possible historical evidence. Pertinent details may be hidden under layers of paint. A few details may be as obvious as removing some trim pieces to find the original paint color. Other discoveries will be welcomed, such as finding a race record that shows your serial number as being driven by Fangio. Some of the facts uncovered we may wish we could ignore, such as the car was damaged in 1963 and required a complete re-body. Nonetheless, to be a good steward of a particular car, any pertinent archival information will only serve to preserve the car’s heritage in a well intentioned manner.

As the research expands, it helps the truly conscientious collector understand exactly what the car is and how it evolved as it passed through time and owners.

Is the car most important to history as an example of the builder’s art and technology?
Its "as built" condition and configuration as it left the constructor’s garage would be most significant.

Was its zenith a podium finish at Le Mans?
The car’s "as raced" condition (including, perhaps, documented "battle scars") could be most important.

With this research and documentation, the restoration process becomes the means to reverse the direction of travel on the car’s timeline to arrive at the vehicle’s "most significant point in time". Through meticulous attention to detail and process, the restorer then renews and preserves the work of the original builders or racers.

As the restoration is undertaken, it is also important to understand that any restoration done today becomes part of the "future history" of a car, and therefore needs to be extensively documented and photographed. Today’s photographs and documentation will become someone’s source of information 30 years from now.

With these considerations in mind, explore the rest of this site to review the history, restoration and preservation of some significant automobiles…

[Corvette Grand Sport]
1963 Corvette Grand Sport
[Ford GT40]
Ford GT40

If you are a serious collector and require more information regarding these restorations of vintage race cars you may contact:
Please understand that the fabrication work and parts shown on this website are done for specific individual race car restorations in our facility. Due to time and material constraints, we normally are not able to supply parts & services to other shops for restoration, or for replica construction.

All materials presented, except as noted, are © RC International Software, Cincinnati, OH
and may not be reproduced or reused for any purpose without the express, written consent of
RC International Software.

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No affiliation with General Motors, Safir GT40 Spares, Ltd. or the Ford Motor Company is implied or assumed.
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