Before & After: Open Hoods

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

One of my many tips on car show photography is: Try, and I know it’s not always possible, not make photographs of cars with their hoods raised.

At car shows and especially Cars & Coffee events, many owners like to display the cleanliness or sparkling chrome underneath but that’s not always the best way to photography a vehicle because it breaks up the car’s lines. If the owner is nearby, ask them if they wouldn’t mind closing the hood so you can make a good photograph of the car. In exchange, offer to e-mail them a JPEG of the finished image.


But sometimes as in the case of the above Valiant, the owner offers to close the hood which gave me the opportunity to be able to shoot near-identical images; one with the hood open, the other with it closed. This also gave Mary and I an opportunity to get better antiquated and listen to his car’s story.

As any car lover knows there never was a project that didn’t have a story to it. This gentleman was a Valiant aficionado and had owned other Valiants. This was a 1962 model, the last year in this style, and when I asked about the fake spare tire on the trunk he told me the 62’s did not have the fake spare but he bought a 1961 rear deck and installed it because he too liked the look. I did too.


This car looked bone stock from the exterior except for a slightly different two tone effect than what came from the factory and the larger-than-stock but period Cragar wheels. Under the skin it had the mechanicals from a  70’s Dodge Charger, complete with 360-V8, though he retained the push-button Torqueflite transmission.

Mary and I enjoyed sharing stories with the owner about her second generation Valiant and my 1964 Barracuda, that was just a fancy Valiant. So if there is any lesson here it’s that just don’t just look at the cars. If you really like the car, talk to the owner. You never know what you might learn.