"Tom Cotter tells fascinating tales of dream cars discovered everywhere ... the stuff of every enthusiasts fantasy."--Road & Track Its every car lovers fantasy: the perfectly preserved classic automobile discovered under a blanket in some great-grannys garage. And as Tom Cotter showed us in The Cobra in the Barn, its a fantasy that can come true. Cotters adventures in automotive archaeology continue in The Hemi in the Barn, with more than forty new stories of amazing finds and automotive resurrections.
Avid collectors big and small recall the thrills of the hunt, the tips and hunches followed, clues pursued, the heart-stopping payoff. Theres the forgotten --the only unrestored one around--that Jay Leno found in a Burbank garage. Theres another 1931 model Dusenberg Leno found in a parking garage in New York City that was parked in 1933 and was never moved. Theres a Plymouth Superbird found buried in a hedge out of sight in Alabama. Theres the rescue of the first 1955 Corvette ever built. Theres the find of legendary race builder Smokey Yunicks Boss 302 Trans-Am car. And theres the story of the original Cobra Daytona Coupe built by Peter Brock and sold to Phil Spectre--a story that somehow involves a chauffeurs daughter setting herself and her rabbits on fire.
As entertaining as these tales are--and some are truly corkers--theyre also full of tantalizing hints and suggestions for readers setting off on their own adventures in automotive archaeology. "Thanks to The Cobra in the Barn, we now know theres another way to get that historic car of our dreams without breaking the bank. North Carolina auto writer Tom Cotter has spent his life driving down dead-end dirt roads, peeking through smudged barn windows, and nosing around his old Long Island neighborhood. These cars are out there, just waiting to be rescued and restored."--Philadelphia Inquirer
Chapter 1: Exotic Destinations Chapter 2: The Find Next Door Chapter 3: Rare Finds Chapter 4: Stranger Than Fiction Chapter 5: The Luck of the Car Hunters Chapter 6: Family Jewels Chapter 7: Playboys, Princesses, and Spies Appendix: Top 20 Barn-Finding Tips
Jay Leno's Foreword to Hemi in the Barn: More Stories of Automotive Archaeology
"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius
Every enthusiast dreams about finding a long-lost car in a garage or a barn. It doesn't happen very often. I think if you just go out looking for cars, and not for any particular car, you're more likely to find something you want.
I think all the Duesenbergs have been discovered; probably all the Cobras have been accounted for; and all the C-Jags and the D-Jags are pretty much known. But there are still a lot of other exciting cars out there.
The fun part of my job is that because I'm on The Tonight Show, people think they know me. So they send me notes or letters, and 99 percent of the time they say, "I have a very rare 1976 Ford Granada- one of the only ones with the full wire wheel hubcaps." Every now and then, though, there's something that's a little bit more interesting. It usually comes from an older person, and that's my point.
If you're looking for old cars, I recommend that you talk to old guys. They were all young guys once. A lot of them don't have children; they don't have any family left. They just want to see the love of their life, the car they were always going to restore (but never got around to it), go to a good home.
And although price is always a consideration, for a lot of guys, it's not the main consideration. So you go around to old folks' homes, and you talk to old people. It's like "Hey, didja ever have an old car?" And they might say: "Oh yeah, the people next door to us had an old car. Now what the hell was that?"
So you go there, and maybe it's something cool, like a '49 Nash Airflyte. Maybe it's a long-forgotten Hudson Hornet.
If you enjoy doing the legwork, the detective work, it's no different than going antiquing with your wife on a Saturday afternoon. It's just that you're doin' it with cars.
One thing I've found is that a lot of old guys just want somebody to talk to. They might keep you on a string forever. But that's OK. They are fun to talk to, and you might just discover something.
If you like cars, but only D-Jags, Cobras, and muscle cars, then you don't really like cars. But if you like anything that has an interesting story, then you're really an enthusiast.
Consider my '51 Hudson Hornet. I got a letter from an elderly woman in her 90s; she'd gotten married in this car. In fact, it was the only car she and her husband ever had. After he died in 1996, it was parked in her garage. I went to look at it. Physically, it was fine. Mechanically, it was worn out. It had gone 260,000 miles. But it was all there. Every receipt was in the glove compartment. So I bought the story more than I bought the car.
The real trick is not to be disappointed if what you find isn't some rare collector piece. Let's say you find a '56 Chevy or a '55 Ford two-door, three-on-the-tree 292-cubic-inch V-8. These cars are fun to drive. They give you a driving experience that can't be duplicated today. You can get cars like this from anywhere from $2,500 to $5,500, and with a little bit of elbow grease, you have a collector car that's a lot of fun. And, there may be a great story behind it.
Any car can be a collector car, if you collect it. People always say buy the best car you can and do all this kind of nonsense. That's nice, if you're rich. But a friend of mine has a Bugatti. It's completely rotted out. You couldn't possibly restore it. But he bought it; now he's in the Bugatti Club. This car is literally a burned-out hulk. It would take a gazillion dollars to restore it. But he can say he's got a Bugatti!
If you're an investor, you might not be interested in a lot of barn finds. But you may be missing out. Take a '66 Ford LTD-it's a fun, unusual car that somebody loved at one time, and maybe they locked it away. You can rescue it.
If you're looking for an old car someone's tucked away, the best advice I can give is to find the oldest garage or gas station in your town. Talk to the guy who runs it. Ask him if there are any customers who haven't been in for a long time. Do they have an interesting car? Maybe there's a '69 Bonneville or something even older, just waiting to be discovered.
If you like old things, go to old people. Seek them out. Go to the places where old hot rodders used to hang out; join the car clubs. Be polite, but be persistent.
There are people who'd like you to have their old car. You just have to find them.
That's why I liked Tom Cotter's first book on barn finds, The Cobra in the Barn. This book really struck a chord with me. There are diet books and self-help books out there, but they have no real effect on me. Tom's book, on the other hand, is genuinely fun and interesting to read. And that's rare.
Every car enthusiast dreams about finding an old car in a barn. I've been lucky to find a few cars that way, and two of those stories are in this book. Sometimes "barn finds" are valuable; sometimes they're not. But they're usually great stories.
Tom Cotter shared those stories in his first book, and he's done it again with this one. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Jay Leno is the host of The Tonight Show.