Pretty cheeky, Ben, to think you can jump into this high-level discussion with a bit of practical thinking. Are you suggesting a new category for the lexicon ... "let it be?" You must have different music on your ipod than most of us ;>).
When I first drifted from being a bike rider into a bike collector I started out with a couple of pretty used-up bikes and a bunch of old parts that came off those bikes when I wore them out. I realized one day (during a period of neither riding nor collecting) that I could afford to indulge my youthful fantasy of owning the bike I drooled over in the front window of my LBS. Or one of the bikes in the photos of the big races in the '60s and '70s. But I didn't want to own a used-up example. I already had some very worn bikes. I wanted one that looked just like it did in 1972, but better. Shinier chrome, a couple of coats of carnuba on the paint. Easiest way to fulfill my fantasy was to buy (cheaply) a worn out bike and have it painted and decaled exactly like it should have been when it came from the factory. Voila, I was a collector and now also a restorer.
After a couple of those episodes my tastes "matured" (relatively speaking, that is) to appreciating the patina and originality, maybe even the ugly reality. So I have some bikes that will never get repainted because they have a certain richness of experience. Sort of like my grandmother's wrinkles (I hated it when she got that facelift).
I still have frames repainted, when they come to me already having been repainted, without paint or are damaged enough to need heat to make them sound. I've also collected a few that were "restored" via a repaint by a previous owner, and I don't think less of that person or the bike for its new paint job - or else I wouldn't have bought it.
So I am, probably like many on the list, firstly in love with bikes, secondly interested in making them work well and thirdly (but not a distant thirdly) interested in historic preservation and authenticity. I am lucky enough to have some exemplars of each of these. Like Ben I have been interested in reading this recurring discussion topic, but don't have the stamina to help parse the real meanings of certain phrases like "wise latina" ... er ... "historically correct restoration." I get enough of that at work!
Dave Ross Portola Valley, California USA
"Anyway's ... I'm rambling on and just wish to say "Let it be". There's many bikes out there and each of us probably own enough to rotate the miles or have newer bikes that get abused so that our keeper's remain. For the most they are ordinary production bikes with no significant history and there is no reason to get all "fashion makeover" on them. Use them, maintain them and they'll outlive us all. It's not a sin to let old bikes look like old bikes."