Dear car enthusiasts, can we stop making fakes and calling them 'very good replicas'
We're supposed to hate things that aren't as they seem, like undeserved M badges and performance cars that don't perform
The Porsche 356 has been ruined.
Normally, I’m struck with several thoughts when I see one, at a car show, or better yet, in the wild, suddenly transforming a drizzling street into a calendar scene. I’m struck with the art deco beauty of the streamlined body which looks like a Beetle - if Ferdinand Porsche decided to turn it into a racer. And then his son decided to turn it into a road car.
I’m struck by the fact Porsche has always been Porsche. In a way it’s like seeing an ancient photo of the bar you go to. It's a marker with which you can suddenly relate to being in a different time. You feel small, like there was a time just like yours before you, and that, with a bit of luck, there will be a time just like yours, after you.
Except then it’s all rudely interrupted by the realisation you’re probably looking at a replica. You’re not sure if it is a replica - it might be a good one? - so you’re looking for the signs; scouring the little details and of course, it remains guilty until proven innocent. If it was clearly indicated as a 356 homage, you could know right off it’s not an actual Porsche, and acknowledge it as someone’s prideful and possibly successful project, but you don't. So you’re not going to post it to DriveTribe and call it a 356 with many exclamation marks, are you.
This is what classic car fakes have done. And don’t even - replica is simply a glorified name for a fake. Replicas have their place in a museum reenactment, clearly plaqued as REAL TO LIFE REPLICA OF SPITFIRE, but in the wild, at car meets, they can’t sit there pretending to be the real deal. Turning up to a car show with a replica Porsche is like turning up to an art show with a forged painting or a Watch & Clock fair with a fake 1970s Rolex.
And don’t say fake watches and Renoirs are scams, whereas a ‘replica classic car’ is a passion project, which can harm no one, and ought, like all passion projects, to be celebrated in the motoring community. Perhaps I should stop arrogantly assuming I have a right to only see genuine classic cars in the street?
Danilo Capece on Unsplash
Firstly, not all passion projects ought to be celebrated in the motoring community. Secondly, I think you’re forgetting that the classic car world was shocked two years ago when Jerry Seinfeld - an avid Porsche collector who knows what’s what- bought an ostensibly very rare 356 and later sold it for 1.5M USD to a buyer who then discovered it was fake. One replica classic. Two big lawsuits. And the motoring community left wondering whether the convincing 356 they had seen at the last cars & coffee was true.
That’s the thing with classic cars -they’re foremostly artefacts from history. People are going to assume the thing they see is the real thing, so you’re either going to go around insisting IT’S A GOOD, CLOSELY MODELLED REPLICA like someone with a point to prove, or you’re going to let people assume, and second-guess, like someone with a dark secret. I don’t want to sound rude to this segment of classic car enthusiasts - but why didn’t you buy and restore in your price range?
A real MG is better than a fake Porsche.