Contrast is sharp between well-worn and restored

With cars, there is always as a debate whether to restore it or leave it alone. Just like people.

The first big car show of the year exploded onto the Otter Co-op parking lot last Sunday. Hundreds of multi-coloured hot rods and classics covered the blacktop like a field of spring flowers. Lots of cars and people was a great payoff to the volunteers who work so hard to put those shows together.

I didn’t have my old truck there. It’s not licenced yet and there’s a few things I need to do. Last October, I made a list, attached it to a clip board and hung it on a nail in the garage. Both the truck and the clipboard are covered with dust and nothing got done over the winter. (Refer to previous columns on room painting and carpet replacement).

My truck and I, being the same age, have trouble starting when cold, we need parts replaced and there is always some new additive recommended to stop leaking or deal with the gas. It just takes longer to get things done now.

Amidst all the candy apple red and lime green, I spotted a tired old 1950s Pontiac Silver Streak. It looks like someone hitched a chain to a tractor and hauled this old survivor from the fence line in the back forty.

The tire sidewalls are cracked, the dark blue paint is visible in patches and the patina on the hood, fenders, roof and trunk is amazing. The hood is held up with a stick to reveal a rusted old flathead engine, worn wiring, grease and oil.

Across the lot sits the same year and model Chevrolet. You can see yourself in the mirror finish of the red paint job and the sun glints off the chrome trim. The engine compartment is spotless and the interior is completely and flawlessly restored. It looks like it just came out of Steele-Nicholson’s showroom on Fraser Highway. It’s for sale for $25,000. Both these cars were worth about $2,600 brand new.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for me it was a toss-up between the well-travelled Silver Streak and the sleek little Chevy. There is always as a debate whether to restore it or leave it alone. Just like people.

We all know people who are just happy to show us who they are and where they’ve been. They wear their wrinkles as the road maps of their journeys and their scars are the badges and medals won in their battles over the years.

Others will fight time. They will colour and shape and trim and smooth to try to recapture their original showroom condition. Botox is like body putty and it can fill dents and cover scratches and change your appearance. I loaned a friend $10,0000 for plastic surgery. I’ll never get it back, because I have no idea what he looks like now.

I have no doubt both those cars brought back many memories to the people who stopped to admire them, whether they were restored or untouched. But with cars or people it’s pretty hard to turn back the mileage. Under all the glitter, the working parts that make us go need just as much attention as the exterior.

Some days I’m as tired as the old Pontiac, others I shine like the little Chevy. The difference is not how the crowd views you, it’s all about how you look at the world around you. Keep shining.

At least that’s what McGregor says.