Patina. It's something many of us have come to appreciate more and more in recent years. Sure, we may pine over restored classics that look as fresh - or some times fresher - than when they left the factory. But an ageing car that wears wrinkles like they were the words of its life story? Often, these all-original examples are the most charming.
And valuable. For the sort of collectable models that find themselves going under the hammer at auction, if they retain paint and leather fitted at birth and have all matching numbers, you can bet that they'll fetch a higher sum than a cleaner alternative. Just think of how many tin worm-infested barn finds we've seen go for record prices. People love originality.
This trend is not exclusive to the exotic stuff, either, as is evident from perhaps the cutest listing in RM Sotheby's Paris auction, a Brutsch Mopetta. This completely unrestored single-seater, one of only 14 Mopettas produced by the Stuttgart company after the model was first shown at the 1956 Frankfurt motor show, is thought to be the most original example in existence.
Some of you may recognise this particular car from its appearance at the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it set one of the slowest times ever recorded on the hill. Because although it's just 170cm long and weighs only 78kg thanks to a fiberglass body, power for the three-wheel Mopetta is provided by a dinky 49cc two-stroke engine, complete with a pull start. It drives through a three-speed gearbox, with a claimed top speed of just 30mph.
The whole point of the Mopetta, however, aside from looking immensely adorable, was to provide low-cost transport. Priced at £200 (about £4,585 today), it was very cheap to run, averaging 111mpg, and so simple in operation it could be maintained with a kitchen tool kit.
Still, with such a limited run of original Mopettas, it's perhaps unsurprising to hear that demand greatly surpassed supply. To plug the gap, many replica models have been produced using more modern Honda and Suzuki engines. But of the original Stuttgart run, just five are known to have survived. Values are therefore rather high - seven years ago one fetched £32,000 at auction.
What, then, will our never-restored Spotted go for in Paris 2019, given that it's arguably the most famous and original one in the world? Place your bets.
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