Patina is a strange thing. It describes how age or use physically transforms an object into something beautiful—but beautiful in a different way than if that object were shiny and new. Basically, it means finding beauty in imperfection, and among vehicles that embody that concept, this 1985 Ford F-250 rises to the top.
There are certain members of the car world—I find that Germans can be a bit stuffy, and that folks in Hong Kong tend to prefer newer vehicles—who just don’t appreciate the concept of patina like America does. But they’re really missing out, because the idea of patina literally lets you enjoy beating the crap out of a machine while enhancing its outwards appearance. It seems almost too good of a deal to be true, but this old Ford F-250 HD proves the point:
This particular pickup has what I’d consider among the most beautiful patinas ever. It starts nice and brown at the top, turns orange and then blends into a light gray that looks like primer, finishing at the rocker panels and lower parts of the overhangs with the truck’s original dark blue color. It’s kind of a red, white, and blue look on an American-made Ford pickup truck, making it among the most ‘Murica machines in existence.
The International Harvester V8-powered pickup belongs to Ian Olive, who says the truck hasn’t exchanged nearly as many hands as it may appear. “I am the second owner of this truck which has 270k miles on it. It’s a 6.9 idi diesel, 4sp manual, 4x4,” he told me over email.
“It was made in the Minnesota plant where they forgot to put primer on and has been in this state since the late 90s,” he wrote. I asked Olive what he meant by this. He responded by sending a link to a July, 1992 story from the Associated Press about Ford truck paint issues in the 1980s and 1990s. Here’s an excerpt:
In 1985, Ford modified its paint with an extra heavy duty coat to help slow rust and corrosion on the F-series truck and several other model lines. Ford also eliminated a conventional paint primer in the process because tests at the time showed this was no longer needed, Wagner said.
But as the sun’s ultraviolet rays beat on some F-series models with gray, silver, and light and dark metallic blue paint, the adhesion broke down and began to flake or peel.
[General manager of Ford’s Parts and Service Division Tom] Wagner said Ford has been aware of peeling paint on the trucks since 1988, but it took until 1990 to figure out the cause. The company is making changes at all Ford paint facilities to fix the problem, and a primer has been added back into the paint process.
Olive says a tractor backed into the truck, so the previous owner had to replace the driver’s side fender, which you can see is lacking the corrosion found on the rest of the body. Speaking of, you may be wondering how the truck ended up in this shape. Well, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t far from saltwater.
“I purchased the truck on the Orcas Island in WA,” Olive told me, “where it has been for twenty years.” This is where Orcas Island is, in case you were curious:
Olive, who works at a European and classic car repair and restoration shop in Seattle, says he uses the truck “to haul cars and parts around.”
“It’s been great so far and I’ve even seen as high as 18mpg. I love it!” he wrote me.
In addition to using the truck to support his job at the shop, Olive rescues old Mercedes-Benzes in his spare time, and often tows vehicles in the mountains.
The Benz in the photo above looks beautiful with its nice paint job, but the F-250's paint makes it look downright soulful. And that’s just awesome.