When “barn finds” took off in popularity back around 2010, so too did cars wearing worn, thin paint.

Evidence of wear all of a sudden became cool, at least among a certain segment of buyers in the market. To those buyers — the “it’s only original once” crowd, there’s nothing cooler than original paint that shows its age.

That said, the car world is built on fads, and patina may just be another one. Is it really all that different from the 18-inch wheel Pro-Touring look of the 1990s, the tubbed Pro-Stock look of the 1980s, the fiberglass hood scoop and high-stance Street Machine look of the 1970s, or the Day Two muscle car look from the 1960s?

You can break patina into two categories — Original and Fabricated — and I think the key to whether or not it’s going to stay in style really comes down to how it was created.

To me, fabricated patina never really looks right regardless of how it’s done, and as such it tends to stand out. You may think that showing off spots of primer under that new top-coat is cool now, but the car world is always changing, and I think that visibly added-on wear is going to look about as dated as an airbrushed viking on the side of a van in short order.

The flip side here is wear caused by legit use and time. How long will that stay relevant? That’s a harder question, as there is serious value behind originality — just look at the premiums that Bloomington Gold Survivor Corvettes bring at auction. People will pay for untouched cars, even if heavily weathered.

I think it all boils down to this: Original paint cars, regardless of their condition, will do best to stay as original paint cars in most cases. Bumps, bruises, thin spots, and all are just evidence of a car’s life, and we’ve seen that the money is still there to justify leaving that originality alone.

But if a car’s already been painted once, go ahead and add that patina (or that viking). After all, it’s your car, and it’s only paint. When tastes change, so too can your car.

What do you think of patina? Fad or not? Let’s start the discussion in the comments below.

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