1977 Toyota Corolla SR5 Sport Coupe

If there is one thing I have learned from watching Antiques Roadshow, it is that you should never try to clean any object that might be old and valuable. In doing so, you may destroy much of the item’s value. The same rule applies to antique guns, guitars, and more recently, automobiles.

Not too long ago, people restored old cars to a factory-new finish in order to make them valuable. Now, the emphasis is shifting towards leaving the car “as-is” and showing its age. People really dig the “patina” look but personally, I never really understood why.

Then I saw this ’77 Corolla, and I think I am starting to understand.

This thing is a survivor. The paint is faded, the safety bumpers are hideous, and I cannot tell if it’s been lowered or simply has blown out shock absorbers. It has humble four-lug wheels. There are scratches in the paint and much of the trim is cracked and dry-rotted from the sun.

There is a certain appeal that comes from seeing an object which is worn from use, like an old tool. This car is a rolling time capsule of the 1970s, from the color to the choice of interior fabrics. At 37 years old, it looks as though it could still be a daily driver.

While the seventies are not remembered as a decade of good design in anything, I can see the need to preserve a few examples for future generations to look back on. A car like this just wouldn’t look right with a House of Kolor paint job, smoothed bumpers, and a big brake kit behind some 20″ forged wheels.

For better or for worse, this is what a car from the seventies really looks like – and I think that is worth preserving.