Collector Cars: It’s All About the Patina

by | Sep 20, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

pa·ti·na: noun: patina; plural noun: patinas. A green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.

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

Under natural weathering, patina in old cars takes many years to develop with those in damp climates developing patina layers faster than ones located in dryer areas.

The material also affects the patina’s color. Copper takes on a natural green or blue-green patina, while bronze takes on a brown color. And even rust is valued as a patina in some cars.

In recent years, 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 for 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 was more than the previous high sale for a nicely restored car of the same model.


How I made this shot: I photographed this fine example of patina using a Panasonic Lumix GX85 and Leica DG Noctiron 42.5 f/1.2 at the First Saturday’s Cars & Coffee event in Colorado Springs, CO. Exposure was 1/1000 sec at f/2.8 and ISO 400. The last First Saturday’s show of the month is coming up; it’s October 5th and the host club is the Rocky Mountain Region Porsche Club

If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat Joe to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), click here. And if you do, many thanks.


Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available from Amazon for $21.88 and used copies starting at giveaway prices—less than two bucks!