Polishing up or dressing down

Friday, 5 April 2013
James Robinson, editor of TCM
James Robinson, editor of TCM
What looks better, shiny or scruffy? Do you prefer patina or polish? Now, it seems the tide is turning somewhat, with the ‘fashion’ edging towards retaining the ‘original and unrestored’ look, rather than the restored to better than new appearance...

This came to my mind as I looked at a couple of motorcycles next to one another at the recent Bristol show. One was the best in show winning Husqvarna V-twin, the other, standing alongside, was a battle-scarred and lightly modified Chater-Lea, with a 350cc ohv Blackburne engine. Thing was, both were fabulous; the ‘Husky’ twinkling away under the lights, the Chater-Lea a battle worn veteran, still dignified but somewhat dishevelled. The Husqvarna duly won the ‘pot’ – the show is about restoration and presentation, of course, not careful preservation – but will a time come when an ‘as original’ machine ends up taking the top honour at such a show?

I’d say probably not, as basically the awards are to recognise the skill in restoring something. But to come back to the original question – what do you prefer? As is always the case, both sides have their advocates and advantages and as ever, I find myself in a quandary, as I think both look great.

What also looks great this time of year, is one’s calendar. There’s plenty of things on it, and it’s filling up fast; entry forms have been received and returned, ferries have been booked, flights likewise; I’ve just received my Irish rally forms, hence the picture, from a year or two ago. While it’s a cold, grey, drizzling and miserable day here, the prospect of getting up in the Irish mountains on the bike (Rex-Acme this year, hopefully) gladdens one’s heart and is something to look forward to. Now the Rex is a shiny motorcycle, and looks lovely for it, while my KTS has a rather more ‘lived in’ look to it, though the KTS has a fabulous new horn, which will make the rest of it perhaps looks a bit scruffy!

Coincidentally, I had a conversation with Richard Rosenthal the other day regarding polished v scruffy; son Peter has bought an ‘original and unrestored’ 3T Triumph and as Richard said: “We’ve got some new silencers for it, but they’re too shiny!” So, now it’s a case of the Rosenthals trying to find a pair of more ‘used’ looking cans, for which they’ll swap the good, new ones. It’s a funny world we live in, isn’t it?

James Robinson, Editor

The Classic MotorCycle Issue 42-01 - Jan 2015

Where legends come to life

About the Editor

James Robinson, Editor
James Robinson, Editor

James Robinson has been the editor of The Classic MotorCycle since 2002. Aged 34, he has possessed a motorcycle licence for 16 years and during that time has owned and ridden all manner of motorcycles, spanning over 100 years from oldest to newest.
Presently the custodian of a varied shed full of motorcycles, his overriding enthusiasm is for pre-World War Two sporting machines, with a couple of cammy Velos, a Rex-Acme and a Model 9 Sunbeam among those competing for attention.

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