Keith’s Blog: Does Every Car Require a Pebble Beach Nut-and-Bolt Restoration?

In preparation for the Revs Institute Symposium on Collecting, founder Miles Collier sent out a list of questions for participants to consider. Since not all of us can make it to Naples, FL, I will share some of the questions and my responses in the next few newsletters. I also invite you to submit your own questions as well.

Miles Collier: Does every restoration have to be to the highest possible level, involving a complete disassembly and reassembly of a car.

Keith Martin:  The two critical factors are the car itself (the artifact) and your budget. If you have unlimited resources you are free to spend them any way you wish. Hence the $100,000 restorations of 1963 MGBs we read about.

Still, I would ask, “What’s the point?”

There are already plenty of perfect MGBs in the world. If you have a decent running and driving car I urge that you consider “preserving the car and its identity” (the minor nicks and scrapes it has picked up over the years) rather than strive to make it another cookie-cutter BRG over black leather roadster.

As our notion of collecting matures — and we collectors mature as well — we should think very carefully about a car (the artifact) before we erase the identity it has earned over the years and make it just one more identical, flawless Stepford Wife car.

Let the restoration — or refurbishment — of each car be done to the level that fits with specific car, your plans for it, and what fits within your budget. Restorations are not a one-size-fits-all-process.

Let me know your thoughts.

On a personal note, I continue to make a slow and steady recovery from my stroke. I have nearly full function (if not strength) in both my arms and shoulders. My left leg is still slow to respond, but I am a fanatic about my physical therapy treatments and anticipate progress. I believe my keyboarding skills are continuing to improve, but I’ll defer to your judgment on that.

Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement. They continue to make a huge difference.  KM

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market, now in its 33rd year. Keith has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and had his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity. He has received many honors, including the Lee Iacocca Award, the Edward Herrman Award, was inducted into the Concorso Italiano Hall of Fame and more. He is on the boards of directors of The LeMay Museum and Oregon Ballet Theater, and was formerly the chair of the board of the Meguiar's Award.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin


  1. All the best on recovering from a stroke. 19 years ago I had “the big one” and was paralyzed on my left side. Two craniotomies and 19 years later my only remaining deficit is vertigo which I combat by riding motorcycles. Keep up the good work!

  2. A few years ago, Mr. Collier and his team announced that there were some cars in the collection that were deemed to be over-restored. The designated cars would begin a process of “destoration.”

  3. So great to hear you’re making continuous improvement Keith. Looking forward to more updates & progress. We need you back out there on the front lines and as a fellow Alfa guy, we need you waving the GTV flag.

  4. It’s great to hear that your recovery is going well. Don’t push it too hard though. Recovery takes a it longer as we get a bit older.

    Re: your question regarding full restorations. The answer is an unequivocal “No.” I have 5 or 6 cars with some sort of claim to being a classic. With the possible exception of a really nice 1967 Intermeccanica Italia Coupe, none would be worth the investment to make it pristine. And the Italia might be “worth more” as a “survivor” with a bit of refurbishment.

    But I enjoy working on them all, driving them, showing them, just generally using them, and putting a few bucks into them from time to time.

    Our beautiful ’55 T-Bird named Lola is our show girl. Everybody loves an old baby blue T-Bird, and we usually have a wonderful day and get a “Peoples Choice” or “Best American Classic” trophy. I have an Intermeccanica Speedster – a replica of a 1958 Porsche Speedster; I just drive it in fine weather (and fix it up when needed). We have a 1984 VW Vanagon Westfalia Pop-Top Camper; it’s in excellent shape (but needs paint) and has a 2.5-liter Subaru engine I installed a few years ago; we use it for camping! We also have a 1990 Jaguar XJ6 in originaal pristine condition — it was too good a deal not to buy last year; it’s fun to take out when we need a few more seats or are going to a nice event. And my “daily driver” is a ’98 Boxster — lots of fun, great hanndling and not too much power.

    Of course, we have a couple of practical cars too — a 2006 Honda Ridgeline and a 2019 Acura RDX, as the classics never go out in poor weather.

    I think I’m a relatively typical collector with a variety of modestly valued cars. I’ll likely never get to Pebble Beach, but that’s not what I’m after.

    So get better and keep your fine magazine going strong so I can vicariously get to Pebble Beach and Amelia Island each year!

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