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What Does “Restored” Really Mean?

One day in recent past we went to view what was described as a restored 1969 912. The guy said that everything had been gone over, inside and out. The price was fair so we drove out to take a look. From about 10 yards away the car looked great. But with each approaching step our heads hung a little lower. By the time we reached the car Adam and I were giving each other “WTF” faces. It had a plastic decklid grill, poor fitting doors and painted bumper guards. Not to mention the prodigious amount of paint applied to all rubber surfaces. We should have packed up then, but he insisted we take it for a drive. As I watched Adam leave the cul-de-sac, I saw that the man had installed the rare “mosquito repellent kit” that is activated only under hard throttle. In other words, he left in a cloud of blue smoke. Then the man told him that second gear was a little twitchy, but “once you get used to it you won’t even notice.” Used to it? What part of “restored” means you have to get used to a grinding transmission? The worst part was we couldn’t even get angry. The guy really thought he had restored it! He was so proud. We said thank you and went on our way.
That was obviously an extreme case, but it begs the question: What Does “Restored” Really Mean? There’s another car for sale right now at auction, and the bidding is approaching record levels. The car is described as “all original.” It’s a very nice car, but all original doesn’t mean that you had a base-coat-clear-coat paint job done, or that you swapped the Solex carbs for Webers. Who knows what else is lurking under the car’s mechanical refresher? In the end, I think the term “restored” means little to nothing unless it’s coming from an authority. If Wilhoit says it’s restored, you can count on it. Owners’ claims on the hand should be met with scrutiny and caution. — Matt

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