John Patterson likes his cars like he likes his watches: Unique but not outlandish.
Handcrafted, but not perfect.
A touch of elegance, yet far from being in your face. Showing off just doesn’t fit on Kauai.
“Here, standing out in Kauai and being like, look at me, is considered uncool,” Patterson, a watchmaker and car appreciator explained in a video recently shot about him — more specifically his 1964 Volvo P1800. “You get poor treatment from other people, you’ll get poor service at a restaurant. You’ll just get a general thumbs down, everywhere you go.”
Patterson, who lives in the Wailua Homesteads, wasn’t seeking attention when producers for Petrolicious came calling.
The online site creates videos for car aficionados featuring auto buffs who own a unique vehicle and have a story to share.
Patterson’s cherry red Volvo P1800 was billed when it came out in 1964 as being on par with a Ferrari, but at a fraction of the price. The Ferrari cost $12,000 then compared to $4,000 for the Volvo.,
And, sure, the Ferrari might fetch $1 million plus on the market today, whereas the Volvo might get $20,000, but the sleek, narrow design and bucket-style interior remains a throwback to when humans designed cars, more so than computers and machines.
“I was totally surprised,” Patterson said about when producers for the site found an image of his car on the picture-sharing social media tool, Instagram, and came calling. “The vintage scene on Kauai isn’t all that impressive, just a few guys doing their thing.”
Last month, videographer Jeremy Heslup, of Valkyr Films, came to Kauai to shoot film of Patterson and his car. But it rained the two days he was on island.
It left them searching out when and where the sun would break through, and they got lucky early one morning around Kekaha.
“We got a crack of sunlight,” Patterson said, adding they had to wake at dawn to go meet the moments of Westside sun.
And, as luck would have it, the sun came back in the late afternoon on the final day as they were preparing to go to the airport. They pulled over and filmed some scenes around the Wailua River.
“The magic of TV,” Patterson said. “All they need is the a moment of sun and they can make the whole thing pretty.”
The film, released this week, is online at https://youtu.be/HP32vxEKSgw. So far, it’s received 26,000 views and climbing, with flattering comments attached.
“Great video, beautiful car and John Patterson seems like a helluva guy with his love for the Volvo,” one Mike Keller posted.
The narrative in the video touches on philosophical and nostalgic.
Patterson, who designs watches for his company, Bathys, talks about what goes into making a good product — car or watch. It should be handcrafted, something that shows personality.
Today’s technology makes iPhones look flawless, as though they weren’t designed by a human. There is appeal in the human element.
“I imagine that in the future things will become more and more that way and there won’t be any hammer marks, and there won’t be anyone’s initials scratched on anything,” Patterson, who bought the car 10 years ago on Oahu, says in the video. “I think somewhere in our subconscious we realize, those old cars, those old cameras, those old watches, all those things that were assembled by hand, that’s all slowly slipping away and it’s never really going to come back.”
And there’s a unique island component to consider for Kauai car owners. There’s really limited space to get out and really see what a car is made of.
“It’s a cool video on the philosophy that you can’t really go anywhere,” Patterson said.