Rust or riches: Porsche restoration that preserves decades of decay

Porsche 356 restoration

The world of classic car restoration is a curious one. With what else could you find yourself being put off by the fact that a product is in absolutely immaculate condition? 

Classics that wear their years can command more money than cars that look fresh out of the dealer. That’s because wear can add character and fortify a car’s story. This is called ‘Patina’ – a real, tangible look and feel, of the age of a car. Now, classic car restorer Thornley Kelham is offering a patina-friendly restoration. It preserves the imperfections, rather than scrubs them out, and has demonstrated it on this Porsche.

Patina or perfection?

Porsche 356 restoration

The car in question is a late-model 356A that was in need of work. The company elected to restore the car while retaining as much of the patina as it can. Yes, down to clear-coating the worn bodywork to preserve its wear. Even the worn cabin, with ripped seats, is carefully preserved. Structurally and mechanically, the car is given the once-over. Patina is enjoyable in appearance, but we don’t think anyone likes seeing blue smoke on start-up…

Buyers would be presented with a structurally sound, perfectly reliable rolling piece of automotive artwork, proudly wearing the story of its 60 years,” the company says.

Porsche 356 restoration

Of course, this is quite an unconventional practice. Available too is a restoration to pretty much as-new standard, down to the original specification. That’s not to say a compromise can’t be found for individual cases.

“Often in the world of rare and significant classic cars, the stories that they tell are just as meaningful as their condition,” said Simon Thornley, co-founder of Thornley Kelham 

“We have deliberated long and hard over whether or not to maintain this 356’s marks of age, or to return it to as-new condition, but ultimately we felt it was a decision best made by the buyer. Our team has completed a number of 356 nut-and-bolt restorations, and we’ve carefully analysed the structure, body, mechanicals and interior of this example to know that no matter which route the buyer chooses, we can produce a rare Porsche 356A that looks good, drives well and works every time.”

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