Barn Find Hunter: The cars are still out there


You might tell Tom Cotter “there are no cars left out there,” but he’ll just take that as a challenge. Still working his way around Midland, Texas, Tom follows a lead from a gentleman he met while taking a lunch break a few days earlier.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/09/05/barn-find-hunter-cars-are-still-out-there


You want to find old cars? Use a light aircraft. What’s siting in plain sight in back lots, fields, and meadows is amazing. Next time you are in Canon City, CO, look me up and I’ll show you.


Wellllll, there are vehicles still out there but you have to ask yourself “why”, and the answer usually is " because nobody wants that kind of stuff". As for RatRoddin’ …sure why not.


The main reason I hate is when I find a 1969 Camaro, a 1934 ford coupe, and a 1969 Olds Cutlass convertible." I go to the door and ask Would you like to sell?" I usually get the cold shoulder and they come back with I’m going to restore the car one day. I go back a year or two later and the car still sitting there. I still love to look!


@apacherick52 - I find that it is usually better to lead with your interest in the car but not asking to buy it. Owners tend to think you are just there to get a deal and trying to make money. Get to know them and then offer to buy.

You are right though, I have experienced that situation a few times and hear about it regularly.


The reason you get the “cold shoulder” when you ask if it’s for sale is because they haven’t considered selling it and automatically say “no”. I’m actually surprised it’s still there when you return a year later. I bought a new 1967 Corvette Sting Ray, 427-400 h.p., factory air roadster and traded it 2 years later (worst car mistake in my life by eons) . I heard it was in a barn in the next county over several years later. I went and saw it. It had some front end damage where it had been wrecked in a drag race and the owner said it wasn’t for sale, he was keeping it for his granddaughter who looked to be about 4 years old. I told him I was the original owner and if he ever wanted to sell, I’d pay more than anyone else and left him my number. I found out later he sold to some guy who laid money on the hood.
so if you want the car, start peeling 100 dollar bills and lay them on the car. You’ll get more success than failure that way. Money talks and bull$#!* walks as the saying goes and it’s true!


I was indirectly one of those cold shoulders once. We had my son’s '69 Mustang Mach 1 and my 2000 Camaro Z28 parked side by side in our driveway. One Saturday morning there was a knock at our door and my wife answered. I heard a young male voice and then her saying “no, it’s not for sale”. When she came into the family room I asked if someone had been offering to buy the Mustang and she said “No, they were interested in your Camaro”. I had bought the Camaro new and hadn’t begun thinking of it as an “old car”.


I’m still thinking about the cars that Tom figures are good deals. A rich mans game now, who can afford to restore a car and not care if they are way over value. The cars that you see going down the roads in the fields, have usually been sitting for a LONG Time. The example I would use to illustrate this would be the Plymouth flat head 6. These are so common and in great #2 shape are still under 10K–thinking you’d have to have the starter car GIVEN to you, and you’d better love it!


Back in the 90’s I used to take Virginia / North Carolina cars up to my Pittsburgh friends and on the way back home I’d almost always stop in a little town in West Virginia where an all original 1968 Plymouth GTX was sitting up on a hill behind a house. I always had an empty trailer and offered him my small roll of $100 bills from the sale of whatever I had taken to Pittsburgh, but the owner would always laugh and say “My boy and I were JUST talking about that car the other day…” and he’d refuse to talk any more about selling it. This went on for about 8 years until I finally begged him to let me at least look at the car. When we walked up the hill I wanted to cry. In front of me was a completely original 440 engine, original interior, original paint… Sitting on the floorboards (or what was left of them) because the unibody/frame/floor had COMPLETELY rotted away. The original interior was a moss/rust/mildew covered mess… I politely told him that he had better take the money and run because now it was only a good “parts car” for someone else. He still insisted that he and his son were going to restore it “some day soon”. I moved to Illinois for a job shortly afterwards, but when we returned to Virginia 4 years later, the car was gone.
But I will argue that the cars sitting in yards that weren’t of any interest to anyone ten and twenty years ago are now the hot collectibles (because all of the other really cool collectibles are all gone or way overpriced) - like the station wagons, four doors, 40’s and 50’s Dodge trucks, Japanese imports from the 60’s and 70’s…
I could tell you other sad stories about a 67 GTX convertible, a 68 Satellite convertible, a 71 Road Runner, and many others. All coincidentally “going to be restored REALLY SOON” that I’ve seen all over Virginia and North Carolina and when you go by there a year or two later…


I find the Confederate flag at minute 1:49 offensive. Perhaps Tom Cotter and Hagerty should be a bit more selective unless they are making an endorsement.


@DocB7196 - Good eye! We completely missed the flag during the edit process. We will be removing it from the video.


Thank you. I appreciate your and Hagerty’s responsiveness.


Yes…they are out there. I’m in Texas. Moved here 4 months ago from North San Diego County after 45 years of what used to be heaven. I went back last week to work on finishing a 55 Merc Montclair 2 door hardtop. Going to Cruizing Grand in Escondido on Friday night Aug 31 we stop at a friend’s house. He has asked us to speak with a neighbor lady up the street who’s husband passed away a few months earlier. She has an old Mustang which has begun leaking gas so she pushed it out of the garage onto the driveway and covered it. She is not sure what to do with the car as it was parked in the garage in 2011 when her hubby became ill. It has not been driven since but it did drive in there with no problems which she recalls. We all walk to her modest home and she greets us outside and shows us her daily driver, a 85 Honda Civic hatchback. After introductions all around she offers to uncover the vehicle. We can tell by the profile it looks like a coupe and the missing wheel covers expose the 5 lug wheels telling us it is a V-8 car. We were all joking before going there how it is likely a rusted out blue six cylinder automatic coupe. Imagine our surprise (and delight) to discover a dark blue very well preserved convertible 1966 Mustang. She bought the car in 1974 for $1000. It has had a quality repaint prior to their ownership which a good detail will revive. There is no rust. The white top needs replacing but there is a glass rear window upgrade. It has a two-tone blue interior with automatic trans and a console. Some seat seams are splitting and the steering wheel has the typical faded blue-green look to it. The dash is not cracked and it is all there. The original factory wire wheel covers are in the trunk along with the blue cover for when the top is down as well. The only modification is an aluminum radiator. It has power steering and no power brakes. The lady chuckles when she remembers how she had to use both feet to stop on occasion. At first she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to sell it or get it running again. Time will tell. They are still out there. Oh…she said the radio worked and there are current black and yellow California tags on the car.