Friday, November 14, 2014

1967 Royal Enfield Continental GT: What price patina?

Is there room in your heart for this little Royal Enfield?
I'm sure I wasn't the only enthusiast pausing to consider the 1967 Royal Enfield Continental GT for sale on eBay in Ohio recently.

"In this auction we have a 1967 250cc Royal Enfield Continental GT that has a barn fresh patina, a few extra parts, and a strong running motor," the seller wrote. "Here is a video of it being started and idling."

There were lots of negatives: Rear rim, bent. Fork tubes, bent. Swing arm, bent. Busted gauges. Busted headlamp. Missing seat.

Restore it? Or leave the evidence of a hard life?
But it runs and, yes, the patina. What patina! Why not just leave those gutted gauges the way they are? Try to make the forks somehow roadworthy? Keep that delicate looking, scratched up brake cooling intake as it is.

Why is patina appealing, when "wear and tear" is not? And what is patina worth, if anything?

In the December issue of Car and Driver columnist Ezra Dyer has an interesting take on "barn cars," the hottest new/old thing on the auction circuit.

"Just a few years back, you'd go to an auction like this and look for a car that was clean, shiny, and freshly tuned up. Like a total idiot! Originality, we now know, is more valuable than superficial considerations like beauty or safety...

"Up is down left is right and bad cars are good cars," he writes.

As Dyer points out, part of the appeal of patina is the obvious originality. It strikes me that most of what is left of this Continental GT probably is original to it. No one would have swapped in broken parts. This is not "faux patina" — distressed paint added to make a merely mediocre motorcycle look meaningful.

So it's historically accurate, anyway.

Tiny brake cooling duct.
Trouble is, this little motorcycle led an historically very tough life.

It's a question every buyer has to answer. Yes, a motorcycle is only "original" once and patina is evidence of that originality.

But it also is true that a motorcycle is only "new" once and patina equals "very used."


  1. People will pay money for just about anything if they want it bad enough, including clapped out motorcycles pushing 50 years-old . It's just another reason why Mr. Copes and his pals in India had better pay more attention to the US market. Build bikes with today's technology and power while being faithful to the traditions customers expect. (excluding oil leaks and Lucas electrics)

  2. I doubt that I will ever understand "collectors", I enjoy watching the collector car auctions on the Velocity network. I love the cars. The collectors, not so much. They've driven the price of these beautiful machines out of reach for the average car lover. They pay ridiculous sums of money for these sweet machines, machines meant to be driven, not stashed away some place to be passed around among other rich collectors. I swear if I ever get the money, I'm gonna buy a pristine '63 split window, right out from under one of these cretins and do doughnuts on his lawn. I will never understand stashing such a car in a temp. controlled room somewhere instead of cruising the back roads and twisties of this beautiful country. I saw a Ferrari that had been in a fire sell for two million. Not to be rebuilt and raced, or even driven for pleasure. No. Stashed somewhere and drooled over... insane.

  3. Anonymous6/24/2015

    Ditto!!! Drive it or don't buy it you morons, I would love to see a batch of car thieves rip off a museum and drive the cars like tyrants down dirt roads... all of those cars would have smiles on there faces like kids release from school... Screw you Jay Leno ; O )


Follow royalenfields on Twitter