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


  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. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for you Keith. “BC British classic owner.”

  5. Dave Hedderly-Smith

    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!