You can now buy a brand new rusty Land Rover, if you really want.

Would you like a helping of commodified corrosion with that sir?

It’s easy to lambast Heritage Customs for the new spray on ‘rust’ applied to their custom built Land Rover Defender. On the face of it, why would anyone want buy a new car and then pay to make it look rusty? But when you dig in to the fact that the classic car market is currently going places and the myriad ‘features’ new car buyers are already prepared to pay a premium for it’s not particularly surprising.

However the fact that this was probably a predictable trend, does not excuse it from critical analysis. The technique is clearly not designed to cause actual corrosion problems on a vehicle and consequently it doesn’t resemble how a car would actually rust over time. In any case I can forgive the aesthetic desire to build and own something that looks like it has character, as these custom built Land Rovers do. But the problem is the overall trend of commodifying a natural process of decay is like sticking two fingers up to a world which is increasingly suffering the devastating consequences of climate change. Perhaps that’s the exact demographic the designer is going for, though somehow I doubt it.

I’m not in any position to judge people who buy into this stuff being somewhat of a petrolhead myself. However what I can’t understand is why you wouldn’t spend less money on a classic Land Rover Defender, if you really buy into character and authenticity. OK they’re noisy, smelly and uncomfortable, and yes, probably quite rusty too. But I guarantee you’ll find a lot more of what you’re looking for in a genuine classic than from customising your brand new car to look older. And if you really want you can also eliminate a lot of the downsides by customising it too. You can even stick an electric drive train in one. Surely that’s a much better, more sustainable way of combining new technology with old character?