Great story! I know exactly what you're talking about, except my case is reversed.
When my bike looked like THIS
, I was often asked what year it was and who makes it. Most of the parts on it went so well together, that it did kind of look like a factory machine. Especially with orig paint and the patina it had. I got a lot of disappointed "oh..." when I told em it was just a late 90's beach cruiser with a chinese motor kit on it.
Now my bike is a much different machine, and no one has asked me that question. It's always "how fast it go?" and "did you make that or buy it like that?". It's still a beach cruiser with a Chinese motor, but it's a completely different animal now. Much cleaner and more high tech, only parts that point to vintage times is the Sturmey Archer hubs, and they are modern versions.