IN DEFENSE OF UGLY
By Joe Hagel
Pictures By Lane Skelton
Another Luftgekühlt has come and gone. As usual it was a wonderful gathering of beautiful air cooled machines, all housed under one hard to pronounce, and harder to spell, word.
The pavilion that was packed with awe inspiring machines, most of which worth an hour of your time pouring over the details. Each car more beautiful than the last, and made even more striking by the high contrast clouds in the sky. Beauty was not in short supply. It was everywhere you looked. It was a sea of sameness.
What was missing from the fray was the questionable, the poorly put together… the ugly.
Personally, I love ugly. I love those cars that have had it rough. The ones that if they were a human, would be the ex-navy dock worker who works nights and gave up on love a long time ago.
I love those cars who’ve had too many previous owners, at least one heart transplant, and had succumb to the questionable decisions of their era… What the hell am I talking about? Think slant nose conversion targa whale tails with a bazooka in the trunk.
To me, those cars, the ones every rational buyer avoids, the ones still wired for subs, are like a shelter dog. They’re battered, beaten, mangled, and left behind. But they are still worthy of our love, of our adoration, and if anything need to be saved because they will be the most grateful for it.
These shitty harlequins, cobbled together from mismatched panels of different eras, with blankets for seat covers and more Mickey Mouse than Disneyland, have a special place in my heart. It’s this Poor Decision Patina that I can not get enough of.
This is an aesthetic that shows more heart than taste. Where you’ll find enthusiasm in spades, and a glint of pure pride in the eye of the builder but, somehow the execution misses the mark on what the rest of car lovers would agree is “well done.” I’m not talking about hellaflush stance life or the wrecked and ruined look. Nor am I talking about the ones that get their character from being driven hard. Those are their own scene, follow their own aesthetic rules, and have their own criteria of what works and what’s wrong.
What I’m talking about are those cars that don’t fit into any category. The ones that are truly unique, not just another piece of noise in the uniformity of a specific community. Like the Gunnar Racing G93, it was ugly and raw and beautiful and I couldn’t stop staring at it like a train wreck set to the soundtrack of Claire de Lune. It’s for that reason I didn’t take that many photos. There wasn’t that much in attendance I could classify as interesting.
So next time, send me your ugly, your battered, your re-updated post-back date battered hulls. The ones that only you seem to love, and let me love them with you.