This is a great thread. Overdue and straight to the point. I have always built what I liked the way way I liked it. 100% accuracy has never been a factor for what ever I am working on. A couple of my favorite terms are"inspired by" and "my version of". I don't think there is any model I built that wasn't inspired by either by a real vehicle I saw in a magazine or in real life. I started building in the '50's and my only inspiration was what ever I saw in those "small pages" car magazines. My dad never did anything mechanical and neither did I. Just ask my wife...I have no mechanical ability..if it can't be fixed with a hammer I can't fix it. As a direct result I became a model builder that developed a set of skills that has allowed me to replicate what I see.I learned what car parts were called by what my model kit plans called them out to be.
As for accuracy, if SMP or AMT told me that what was in their box was a '58 Chevy convertible then it was exactly that no doubt,no questions is was gospel according to the box art. I grew up in a small rural farming community on a gravel road three miles from town. To see a real '58 Chevy when they were new in our local dealer's garage I had to ride my bike to town. Forget ever seeing an Impala of any body style there! The dealer in our one traffic light village(we have 2 now) only ordered what the local farmers were likely to buy, pale green four doors with pale green interiors and six cyl engines. Not much inspiration for yours truly.
As to body correctness...again when I bought and built the first release AMT '32 Ford kits I had never seen a real one so if the box said this was a deuce coupe than it was a deuce coupe...no questions asked..no internet to google a hundred images to compare it to so why obsess over a possibly incorrect detail. So I didn't.
Don't get me wrong I lover my internet and web access for project research on what I am building. Great tools for sure. I rely on "proportional accuracy" a lot for what I do.Keep in mind that just as I have always done I am more likely to build a model of something that no kit exists for. During the old MPC contest days I built a hot rodded '29 Ford model A dump truck with working dump mechanism.a blown SBC and slicks because I had seen a stock one at a a local car show the year before.
Now I build a lot of models of vintage travel trailers. A couple of them are so rare in the real world that maybe only one or two still exist. Thank you google and Pintrest for the inspiration and reference material for those projects. No Kits available.All are 100% scratch built. That are "proportionally" accurate to my eye and that's what counts. That will never change for me,I build what I like as I want to see it. If someone else appreciates it that;s all well and good. If not I will not lose any sleep over it.