Barn Find Hunter: Buick, Ferrari, Citroën, Datsun found in California garage


The latest Barn Find Hunter finds Tom Cotter in southern California, thanks to tip from Burbank’s Autobooks-Aerobooks proprietor Tina Van Curen that leads him to an eclectic collection of cars. Tom begins by meeting Astra, whose car-loving husband has recently passed away, at her home. Helping with the tour is her late husband’s friend, Davis.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/02/21/bfh-california-garage


Very interesting article on Barn Finds in California. Recently my brother found a Barn Find of his own … A 1966 Thunderbird Landau 390cid that has been stored in dry circumstances for over 40 years. He began restoration (he has done many over the years, however at age 75 and with a few new health issues he has decided not to proceed.
He has replaced the entire fuel system…tank, fuel pump,lines etc and the entire brake system. There is NO RUST AT ALL, however the car needs an interior and paint, tires, other small refurbished etc. Everything … All components are with it. It starts and drives. This could be a great rebuild project for someone interested in that vintage.
Can you suggest how we might market the vehicle. Would like to recover present investment of approx $5000.
Pics available. Located near Marietta, Georgia


I’ve got a great barn find story you’ll love…I cruise a lot of online auction sites and last July I found a 1980 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser station wagon in absolutely pristine condition w/ only 36,000 original miles on him. The wagon is Emerald Green w/ the wood vinyl siding ( picture National Lampoon’s Vacation ) It sat in a barn for over a decade after the owner had passed away. The story only got better when I found out the owner had been a professional racing mechanic and for some reason, he decided to turn this beauty of a vintage car and turned it into a BEAST of a racing machine !! He dropped a bored out 403 Oldsmobile engine that’s rocking around 450 horse power…and then, married it to the transmission, drive train, posi-traction rear end and coil springs over air bags, additional HD shocks and rear anti-sway bar! I got a picture w/ the wagon at the Englishtown NJ drag strip with the front end OFF THE GROUND when the light turned green. We are talking 0-60 in 5.0 seconds and a shade over 13 seconds in the 1/4 mile!! Definitely not your Grandpa’s station wagon !! Not only that…but “Woody”, only set me back $6500 plus about $1500 to ship it out to CA from upstate NY. Had a few minor issues to resolve, but hey, we all need a hobby right? Had a guy offer me $30,000 form a week ago and I had to say “Sorry, not for sale” :slight_smile:


Oh yea, I forgot to mention that the transmission drive train, and rear end are all from a 1987 Buick GNX !!


I might be able to compete in this one, at least at some level…
Perusing Bring A Trailer back in 2010 I notice a trio of Vespa 400 Microcars as one of the features. In the various comments I see a fellow in PHX stating he has one that he hopes to one day restore. To compete with the many “drop a Hyabusa in it” comments, I respond that if he ever wants to sell it, I would be interested and “stock is the only way to go, and oh by the way I live in PHX” to set myself apart. A few months pass and I get an email from a lady asking if I’m still interested in a Vespa. Unfortunately this one is not in PHX but 60 miles north of Duluth Minn. Originally purchased by her deceased Uncle new on Valentines day 1961, he drove it for 3 years and pushed it barn after the engine seized in 1964 with 7600 miles on the clock. The car remained in that barn until passed in 2008 where possession passed to his niece as part of the estate settlement. She and I corresponded for several months regarding conditions and history of the car. I was really hoping that the deal wouldn’t work out but as the logistics of getting such a machine (large riding lawn mower really) from near the Canadian border to PHX was daunting. Fortunately for me we became close friends through our correspondence and we both came to understand that the this transaction right for both of us. I flew to Duluth in April of 2010. We had agreed on a price range as there was much she didn’t know about the car. Once inspected, I handed her the high end of our agreement without negotiation. The car was completely original and untouched with original paint, interior even the convertible top was in good condition sans the plastic window. The floors were completely solid! The original owner had purchased and never installed optional front and rear chrome grills manufactured by Ardor in France and Optional hubcaps from Piaggio in Italy. These pieces are quite rare and I had never seen them on a Vespa. Documentation on this car is the best I have ever seen with introduction letter from seller to original owner, original pink slip, and early advertisement pamphlet, key rings etc. Once getting the Vespa back to PHX and assessing condition, I realized the Vespa would be best served by persevering its original patina and freshening the mechanics. After rebuilding the engine brakes and seals the Vespa was up and running again in February of 2011. I sent the seller a YouTube link, but uncharacteristically the seller didn’t promptly respond . After a few weeks I received an email chain from the sellers family with reminiscence of various family members as children riding with the owner through the small Minnesota town, over curbs and into place where normal car couldn’t go. Also stories of flat tires where the owner would pick up the front end of the car by hand and walk it home as the tow truck (one of the original tubes had 8 patches on it). This tiny car gets more attention at car shows than anything I have ever seen. I can’t imagine a more satisfying collector car experience than this one. If you get a chance to own a vintage microcar take it!


Once again though, the Datsun is a four door which kind of kills its value compared to the two door. The Ferrari is, to me, forgettable.


Not true mrb,
510’s are very rare now that most have gone to the crusher, rusted away or heavily modified and raced. I own a 240Z myself and formally owen’d a 510. These cars are bringing good money these days in this kind of condition, 4 door or 2 door.


@randyhenry - Sounds like a good car for the right buyer. The key to marketing such a vehicle is to post or advertise where the right buyer might be. Reaching out to any local Thunderbird clubs might net a buyer, or connect you with a Thunderbird newsletter or publication that can help spread the word.

Next to that, a national listing will garner the most eyes. Hemmings classifieds for a fixed price listing or Bring a Trailer for an auction style listing are both good options.

Best of luck in finding the next owner!


510’s were great cars. I was a Datsun Mechanic in the early 70’s. I installed the proto- type springs and swaybars for BRE when they were in design. I had a few 510’s. The hot setup for street was to put in Z car flat top pistons replacing the dished ones and the twin SU style Z carbs. Webbers if you were really serious but the SU’s worked great. Top it off with BRE springs and bars and Koni’s and you have a nice running car


Great show ! Love to own that Citroen Ami 6, I had many when I was living in France. Most of them where the early model with 6 volt system. Do you know if this one is actually for sale ? where ? How much? Really interested.


Tell me that Ferrari is going up for sale. Love to pick it up.


In the early 70’s I was a parts manager at a Datsun dealer in No. Cal. Datsun did many clever things to their line of cars and trucks which as car enthusiasts we found most intriguing. The roof of the 4 door and the 2 sedan door are the same. The cars were interchangeable. Rear quarter panels, doors and lock pillars were interchangeable. You could easily make a 2 door out of a four door and vice versa. In the dealer body shop one of the body men made a 2 door panel truck using the 2 door doors, moving the lock pillar rearward and grafting on 2 door quarter panels. My assistant parts manager, a close child hood friend used the directional signal stalk from a 240Z on his 36 Ford 5 window coupe which has been in his family since 1951. The stalk clamped to the stock steering column and had high/low beam switch, directional signal switch, wipers and wiper/washer controls. It worked very well at a time when no after market parts of that type were yet available. The 70 and later side marker lamps were used on many AC Cobra kit cars as tail lamps. These were fun and fast cars to drive and own. The 2 door 510 did not receive IRS until 1973. Up to then it used the solid axle out of the roadsters and pick ups but you could get a built posi unit through Datsun performance or BRE.