How stock is stock ? The vintage crowd (and I include myself here) have an understandable fascination with authenticity. After all, we like old things because they are….well,…old. And it would stand to reason that the closer to authentic you get, the happier we would be. Most of us would act like 6 year olds (as opposed to the 11 year olds we already are) if a factory fresh example of our favorite vehicle was within a 12 hour drive. We would have to go see it and marvel at a truly definitive example of the breed. A for-sale Ad with the words “bone stock” or “unmolested” is automatically of great interest. Most of us have period magazine articles, owner’s manuals, books, advertising posters, or other memorabilia which show the vehicle in all of its original splendor. I particularly like the “Original ………” series of books by Lawrence Meredith, Ian Falloon, Peter Morgan, and others for German stuff.  They provide a year by year reference guide to the vehicle in question and include great reference photographs as well. But I digest…..

The quest for authenticity is where things get interesting because only some of us are on a quest to get back to complete authenticity. The majority of us (I would argue), are somewhere on a sliding scale of compromises. Since a sliding scale represents infinite variability, and engineers must bring order to the world, I have created the following Tiers of Authenticity. Either Tiers or Tears will work here if you have some experience. I offer these without judgement, as I have seen great stuff in every tier even if I would not spend my own money and time that way. Oh and apologies in advance for the whole “ista” thing, as I just had my coffee prepared by a Barista, and thought that I should add that suffix to the tiers so that they too would become more valuable.

Factorista. If you own or operate a museum, these are the people you want to find. They own or seek ultra low mileage vehicles, or ones where everything down to the consumables are still as they rolled out of the factory or shop. If the air in the tires isn’t from the date and country of origin, you lose points.

Resto-Factorista. These folks restore a vehicle to factory condition, which usually means better than factory condition because tolerances, finishes, compounds, and fluids are better today, and even if you could locate some original factory fluids and compounds, they cannot be used today without an EPA superfund exemption.

1874 Original miles on the odometer !Survivorista. Vehicles may be well worn, but they are in bone stock condition except for consumables such as tires, wiper blades, oil, etc. There are no upgrades other than those made during the period of manufacture. This is a hot category at the moment because as the slogan says, “they can be restored many times, but they can only be original once.”

Restorista. Vehicles are bone stock except for consumables, but they have been repaired or restored to a lesser or greater extent. OEM parts and original paint formulations have been used, original or repro tires, and in general every attempt has been made to maintain the look and performance of the stock vehicle.

Concessionista. Vehicles look stock, but barely noticeable concessions have been made for safety, performance, and use in today’s environment. Tires are modern radials, bushings may not be pure rubber, bar-end turn signals added, plugs and brake pads are an upgrade from stock, modern air filter, stainless steel spokes, etc.

Modifista. Vehicles look mostly stock, but upgrades have been added. This is a contentious tier, as many would argue that upgrades=safety in some instances, but unless it is a daily driver/rider, I have found that most performance and comfort upgrades are for the greater enjoyment of the owner. Upgrades such as electronic ignition, wider wheels and tires, generator converted to alternator, 6v to 12v, mp3 player and sound system (hidden), tweaked motor, halogen lights, performance exhaust, etc, make the car more reliable, more enjoyable for lengthy outings, and faster than the original while still keeping the visual essence of it and the majority of the performance characteristics.

Performanista. A stock garden variety version of the vehicle (or for that matter a premium version) is turned into a rare homologation version or a limited edition performance version. Early Porsche 911 guys for example like to build RS or RSR versions from a basic T or E or S. There are also a few John Player Norton creations from Commandos and Lotus Cortinas that started out as regular Ford Cortinas. The vehicle looks and performs very differently, and often exceeds the performance of even the targeted model.

Transplantista. Another contentious tier as these vehicles contain major components of other vehicles. A BMW 2002 with an E30 M3 engine (often called an M2), A Triumph engine in a Norton frame (A Triton), A Porsche 914 with a Subaru boxer engine (A Porscharu?), A BMW /5 with /6 or /7 wheels and brakes, A 67 mustang body on a new mustang chassis and drivetrain, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The question here is whether you even have the same vehicle, or whether, as the naming suggests, you have a new creation.

Replicista. Why not just get an entirely new and modern version of the old ? Want a Porsche Speedster, or a Royal Enfield, or a Shelby Daytona without the rust, headaches, and investment ? Just order one from a replica/tribute shop.

Modernista. Why not just get a new and modern interpretation of the old. Like the old VW Bug, buy a new Beetle, like the old Ducatis, buy a new classic Ducati, like the old Triumphs, buy a new Bonneville, like the old Challenger, buy a new Challenger.

Where do you fall ? Got another Tier ?

7 Replies to “Tiers of Authenticity”

  1. Ok, I'll play along. Concessionista. I like to keep as close to the essence of the original as possible, but still ride the bike. I have a gel battery, and upgraded wiring/lighting. Not really visible, but a judge would spot it. Enjoyed roaming around the blog…

    Greg Blake

  2. Dear Wayne:

    This blog post was written much better than most magazine articles I've read. You have a real knack for this and I marvel that you do not turn pro. I'm sorry that we didn't get a chance to ride together on Todd's last run… But I was in real bad shape.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. Dear All,

    Here is the tally including the email responses :

    Modifista 6
    Concessionista 4
    Performanista 2
    Junkista 1 – This was added by Troy Masters who included himself as a collector of basket cases and parts vehicles. He maintains that they are completely authentic.


  4. Great classification,
    I have a split personality in my petrol hobby continuously hopping between Survivarista (restoring a pre-war sports car with only applying used, contemporary & original parts) and Perfomanista (restoring a classic sports car changing the -one central carburettor- to a -per cylinder carburettor system, those days used in the ‘race version of the same car’).
    But. all classes do have their own appeal!
    I wish more people would react to your site; it’s beautiful; is it still ‘alive and running’?

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