With few exceptions, foreign classics found in Japan are usually so clean – either preserved or restored – and near perfection that they might be used as archetypes or museum pieces. Domestic cars can also fall into this category, but there is much more variety with those in general. Imports are rare and valuable, so most are extremely well cared-for, which means looking damn near immaculate.
The exceptions overwhelmingly include customized / slammed / rat-rod cars, mostly domestics, VWs or American cars (usually pickups). The fetishism about patina, which has become a real thing in the US and Europe, has yet to really make an impact here. So this C10, proudly displaying its faded paintjob, newly lined bed and meticulously preserved surface rust, may well be a forebear of things to come.
In French classic car jargon, the antithesis of patina is restauration à l’américaine (literally, “Amercian-style restoration”), wherein every nut and bolt is polished to within half a point of the Amelia Island concours. Garish colours, chromed accessories and obligatory whitewalls usually complete the look. In the States, these might be called trailer queens. It was certainly a thing back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when European observers lamented the pre-war classics they were happy to see rotting at home were being bought by wealthy Californian and Japanese collectors.
Although sometimes the restoration choices might have been questionable from the point of view of taste, patina and originality in those days were not as valuable as they later became. Sneering at the over-restored cars was pointless, as pre-war classics are almost always wood-framed, and thus originality with these cars is almost always an impossible ideal. This changed as people started looking at all-metal post-war cars as classics and patina gradually became a very desirable trait.
Of course, patina can be faked. I don’t really understand the point of fake patina (it’s a bit of an oxymoron, if you’ll pardon my French), but these things do happen, especially now that this aspect is deemed highly desirable. Is this what we have here? None of the chrome on this 45-year-old C10 is pitted or missing. Every single panel and trim piece (except that rear bumper…) is as straight as it was on the factory floor – perhaps straighter even, given when this truck was made. It’s all starting to look rather suspicious…
The interior is similarly a bit too perfect to be honest, though the faded top of the driver’s door card, where you can almost see the driver’s left elbow, is a great touch. The non-original steering wheel, on the other hand, adds nothing. The original one is also rather ugly and boring, but if you’re going to put another one in there, why not find something that is worth the trouble?
The bed cannot lie: this truck has had some work done. This looks like some kind of rubber/vinyl covering – certainly not something native to the ‘70s, when that stuff only belonged on car bumpers. Of course, this is probably a good way to preserve the sheetmetal underneath, but it only adds to the overall feeling of faux.
Genuine patina looks good, no two ways about it. But like a senior citizen in torn jeans and a hoodie, this truck is just trying too hard. It’s too bad, as the vehicle underneath that Funky Cold Patina is pretty nice, especially in this colour and trim. So far, this is the first of its kind I’ve seen here. It will be interesting to see if more of these crop up on this side of the Pacific – or if JDM versions of this treatment start becoming a thing. It’s so against the grain for Japanese folks to have rusty / unkempt vehicles that I can’t see it becoming a very popular trend, though. Torn jeans haven’t caught on in these parts – hope this won’t either, beyond the odd few.