The Art of The Barn Find

Barn finds… where to begin…By definition a barn find is ideally any car that is found left in a barn for years without moving, collecting dust and dirt as it’s owner  lies to their significant other, family and themselves, about one day ultimately restoring it. Ideally a barn find is a desirable classic car or truck and usually in decent condition but really they can be anything and anywhere. A barn find can be a Lexus from the 90’s your uncle used to drive that was left  in the driveway after a headgasket blew or maybe its an old Model A that was supposed to be a father son project  that never happened. Whatever the case, these cars are usually decrepit and left for dead, often with little hope for revival. A shrine of its former glory just rotting away in the desert in Arizona, or a barn in Oklahoma, or a garage in New York, or a car-port in Florida.

I personally find barn finds interesting for many reasons. As a history buff I love that these cars usually come with a great story or as they’re dug out, they uncover some documents or shed light on the car’s past. But as a car guy I love the potential of these old cars. There’s always hope and I try to look past the often un pleasant outward appearance to see the gem underneath. As the world grows and expands, technology takes over, and real estate comes into high demand,  barn finds are getting harder and harder to un-cover…but they do exist. I recently came across a great barn find It perfectly embodies what a barn find is all about.

I’ve lived in the same town for most of my life, traveling the same streets day after day. There’s this one house that I noticed in disrepair, that’s about a stone’s throw away from my home. A for sale sign went up in the yard one day and as I’d drive by, I’d always glance at the house and never really noticed much. One day I looked past the house down the long driveway and noticed a vehicle of some sort peeking its head out of an old rotting garage.  I immediately became interested in what it was and would try to get a quick glance as I’d drive by to try to figure it out. One day while I was running some errands I just said screw it, went over and knocked on the door. I was honestly expecting an old person to answer and to my surprise was a younger guy in his late twenties, early 30s. I expressed my interest in the lonely vehicle in the back and he said it was his brothers. Luckily he was there and came to the door. Again I expressed my interest and while he said it wasn’t for sale I asked if I could just take a look and he kindly obliged.

We strolled down the driveway on the warm winter day, snow on the ground still and some water dripping off the roof of the old garage onto the hood. Immediately the gentleman started telling me about the truck. It was a completely original 1956 Ford F-100. The owner’s grandfather bought the truck new in ’56 and used it for work. Sometime in the ’70’s or ’80’s the truck was parked in the garage and never moved again. This truck was the definition of a barn find. The old garage, while it had no door, was pretty dry inside and because of this the harsh New Jersey weather hadn’t been able to take its toll on the body. From a quick inspection it was almost rust free and everything was there from the chrome trim, the vinyl bench seat looked intact, the whole dash was there in one piece, and it still had the wooden raised steaks on the pickup bed. Then the real kicker, this truck still had the original Ford V8 flathead. This truck was a true time capsule. I tried to get the owner to sell it to me honestly, to no avail. He explained to me that it was too sentimental to sell his grandfathers car. He was already somewhat distraught he had to sell his grandparents house, they had lived in since the ’50s. He hoped to one day restore it and told me this was the coolest thing his grandfather had and wanted to keep it. I told him I understood and left a business card and phone number just in case.

While the find didn’t yield anything for me in the end, I was happy to meet someone who was passionate and truly cared about the truck and the story it told. I hope to find more of these gems, as it is increasingly more and more difficult. Maybe , if I’m lucky I’ll get a call from this gentleman and I’ll be able to get that F-100 back on the road. Until then all we can do is hunt for more diamonds in the rough.

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