Collector Cars: It’s All About Patina

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A patina is a coating of various chemical compounds, such as oxides or carbonates, that are formed on the surface of metal or other material. Usually this is caused by exposure to weather over time. The word itself comes from the Latin word meaning “shallow dish.”

Under natural weathering, patina in old cars takes many years to develop with those in damp climates developing patina layers faster than ones in dry erareas. Material affects the patina’s color. Copper takes on a natural green or blue-green patina, while bronze takes on a brown color. And yes, rust is valued as a patina in some cars.

All-original cars with lots of patina and “character” have become desirable by many collectors, echoing the sentiment that “a car is only original once.” Several years ago the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance added a Preservation Class to encourage keeping these original cars, well “original.”

And they’re fetching the big bucks, According to Autoweek magazine, a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS spider that was purchased at an insurance auction in 1969 after being totaled following an engine fire and then sat in a garage for 44 years. The windshield was cracked, gauges were missing and the damage from the fire was apparent. The car nevertheless sold for $2.1 million, which is more than the previous high sale for a nicely restored car of the same model. Go figure.

I photographed this fine example of patina using a Panasonic Lumix GX85 and Leica DG Noctiron 42.5 f/1.2 at a Cars & Coffee event in Colorado Springs, CO. Exposure was 1/1000 sec at f/2.8 and ISO 400.

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Barry Staver and Joe Farace are co-authors of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s currently out-of-print with new copies available from Amazon for $18.40 or used copies for giveaway prices, only $6.27 as I write this.