by Chrisso Reault
This is not to say genuine discoveries cannot be made, we know of many many cars that disappeared, and periodically they reappear, for example Wayne Carini’s Stutz discovery. But look at what he did with the car, replaced a few key components, took it to Pebble Beach and kept it. (It should be noted that even that Stutz was known to people, but the owner had held off selling) Those of us who live in rural areas see many old neglected barns with potential treasures inside, but the car magazines and auction companies are not talking about this.
Going back to the Baillon Ferrari, or indeed any of the cars from that collection, those that can be restored should be. The Ferrari has many incorrect later modifications, the engine and chassis should be completely restored mechanically, replacing old fuel lines and wiring etc. At Retromobile this year a restoration shop proudly displayed a Baillon Talbot they are rebuilding. This will show us the car in all its glory and keep the original coachbuilding skills alive.
When the famous ‘Bugatti in the Lake’ was sold at auction a few years ago much discussion took place about what would be done with it. Would someone try and restore it? Or display it? The end decision was correct, that is no longer a car but an artifact and a fascinating piece to look at and examine. And to restore it would have been an extremely wasteful exercise. But that ‘car’ is a unique example.
I am an adamant and lifelong supporter of preservation over restoration. The American model of over-restoring can be gaudy and just wrong. Good original condition should always be saved, but there is a wide degree of difference between preserving originality and allowing neglect to remain. Would anyone consider keeping that E type in the condition it was found in? Of course not. Had that Stutz not been tucked away complete but taken apart it could have been a very different discovery. As it was the car was preserved in its original state.
So yes, originality should be protected, true patina should be coveted. But when the seats have no stuffing and are all springs, it’s ok to have them redone. If the wiring shorts out the car every time you drive it, replace it before you burn the thing to the ground. And as much as we love the romance of finding that special car in the corner of an old barn, let’s not celebrate and monetize neglect. Let’s find these cars and celebrate their glory.