photos courtesy of Victor Valenson

We talk about this stuff all the time when it comes to old cars with colorful histories: preserve or restore? We lean toward the preserve end of the spectrum and we’ll tell you why…

Native American tribes put much value into the tarnish that comes about on silver jewelry when it spends time rubbing against human skin. Why? Because those chemical reactions that take place in the physical world and cause the tarnish have alot of significance in their spiritual world – there’s a history of the wearer’s life experiences impregnated into that black tarnish that’s not only beautiful, but can never be replaced ever again once it’s cleaned off.

The Japanese put tons of value into handmade, perfectly imperfect things. Hand-formed motorcycle tanks, handmade denim jeans that are naturally worn and faded from new near-black indigo, individually cast speed parts in the lost-wax process that are more organically shaped than a cold, perfectly formed CNC-machined piece, the list goes on. Why? Well, because they see more beauty and place more value on a thing that has been formed by imperfect human hand-heart-eye-soul coordination and a love of that thing because of what a human has put into it, than a thing forced into existence without the benefit of human touch at all.

It’s like that with old cars. Once an old car undergoes a restoration, gets skinned and its original paint and patina is replaced with brand-new triple-plate chrome and environmentally-friendly code-compliant paint, well, some part of that car’s soul is gone forever. And when we say this, we’re talking about the paint it wore when it made history. The plating it burned through when it changed the world in some big or small way. The upholstery that cupped some pretty important butts when it did some important thing.

So, when Victor Valenson found the “Wild Mouse” ’57 wagon somewhere in upstate New York (from what we can gather), we first flipped like anyone would when seeing pics of the car ‘as found,’ and then almost as quickly caught our breath a little when he said he was gonna restore it. Hey, to each his own, right? But we really hope that he can find a way to get this old warrior back on the road again without trading its soul in for some shitty old-guy restoration. Victor claims that he remembers the car from his childhood and he’s stoked to actually own it. And as long as he remembers that the Wild Mouse never had a tilt wheel or A/C or seat belts or a tweed interior with pan warmers or Dakota digital gauges, we won’t stand to lose a chance at getting a piece of our colorful history back. And that beautiful, decaying, original paint – we hope we won’t lose that, either…

9 Responses to “PRESERVATION”

  1. Robert M. says:


    I am behind this sentiment 100%

    Long live wabi sabi!

  2. nxpress62 says:

    its killing me to say it, but the flames are a bit different, and the hoods are different. also no writing on the door panels, is he sure its the same car?

  3. nxpress62 says:

    still waayyy cool though..

  4. Brian F says:

    Not the same car. Or at least they painted the flames differently and louvered the hood later.

  5. how can you say its not the same car?
    the one at the car show is a garbage can and the one one in the field is a garbage can… same car.

  6. jack pine says:

    Complicated. Hot Rodding Theory of Relativity: Doing “something” with it is better than rotting in the weeds…. however, when you come upon the finished product at a show or the drive-in and you find out it’s history…the sadness that people are gonna do what people gonna do comes on strong about what might have been. The monumental disrespect for another man’s work manifested in just a single LED segment of the Dakota Digital dash…. but, he didn’t let it rot in the weeds. Haters gonna hate no matter what.

  7. Stoner says:

    Yeah, we noticed the difference in paint and the louvers, too, but we can only go by the story this guy weaves: he claims he remembers the car as a kid and has followed its various acquisitions over the years till he was finally able to pry it out of the hands of the current owner.

    Those peeling flames look like a much earlier style than the show photo, but hell, stranger things have happened to old show cars over the years. Roth’s Orbitron was found being used as a trashcan out back of a Mexican porn shop, the Ala Kart caught fire, Steve Scott’s Uncertain T hasn’t been seen in 40-plus years…

  8. Brian F says:

    I’m gonna say Uncertain T is/was awesomer than the Outlaw.

  9. Victor Valenson says:

    This is the same car, it was originally an straight black wagon. When it was turned into a racecar in the 60′s it was painted Corvette grey, scallopy flames and the white roof. It was painted green by the former owners son in 1974. The car will be period correct for 1965 as in the picture of when it is grey and will retain its back then white tuck and roll. Will continue to have a stick with an SBC. This car is currently waiting for the new floors and rocker panels to go in as well as a roof clip. I have the parts, just waiting for them to be done. This car if not restored will not and would not survive if not stored in climate controlled garage. The underneath and roof are that bad. This car will be preserve but only as a period car.

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