You put the wrong valve-stem caps on your MGTC. Your hose clamps are wrong. Your window glass is missing the OEM etching. Your headlights are aftermarket replacements, and so on. That is how “experts” polish their bona fides about cars at shows. These are maintenance items routinely altered or changed in any normal car’s history of use. Why not? There is replacement air, oil and coolant in there too, not to mention modern gasoline, rubber, and paint. Shall we also debate points and condenser, extra fuses, and more advanced filters?
Nitpicky stuff for sure, and outright silly in the context of over-the-top fit and modern paint finishes. How about the questionable safety and roadworthiness of a toy, especially in countries that do not require an annual inspection, like ours. This has been the downside of the competitiveness and the commercial undercurrent in the collector car ecosystem for the last thirty years. No-expense-spared restorations and lobbying of event organizers on the road to the top of the game spoils it for the rest of us.
I’ll argue for fun and safety first in the context of conscientious ownership. My ideal is a car which is maintained in the condition of a much loved example with two years of happy motoring history. Brand new “as delivered” is for museums. When there are no personal touches, it looks like it probably belongs to your parents or it is a “company car.” Period improvements and functional accessories should not be penalized. They contribute to the history and diversity of ownership. And if I had my way, a stone chip and a bug or two on the radiator should never subtract from a car’s merits. They are proof of vitality and real motoring.
My first car was a five-year-old TR3 with rusty rockers and a chipped tooth in first gear. My dad taught me how to fix those. Its exhaust wasn’t worth re-hanging. An Abarth system* was the best car part I ever bought. Its wrinkle-black finish came beautifully wrapped in brown crepe paper. Best of all it made the most wonderful sound ever heard from an engine after a week or so of break-in. The Michelin X tires were worn and had a hair-trigger break away from drift to oversteer. A neighbor with a TR4 recommended Pirelli Cinturatos, another sublime enhancement to an original car. Amco shift knob, wind deflector and sun visors, luggage rack (with ski clamps), driving lights, and a portable radio under the glove box, topped off my list of necessities. That is enthusiasm and love of a car.
Some other time I’ll expound on the good and bad of the concourse circuit and points judging at the regional and national club level.
*Abarth used thick, soft steel, likely for tooling longevity and weldability reasons. These characteristics also provide an acoustic “quality” unmatched by modern systems, especially those made from thin stainless steel. A vintage Abarth exhaust system is the Stradivarius for motorists, also discontinued long ago. I was and still am ecstatic because a Buckeye neighbor sold the correct old unused one to me for my Alfa Romeo Sprint (shown in the header photo above).
Note: Auspuff is German for the exhaust from an engine and colloquially that system itself.