Sunday, August 14, 2016

Automoblog Book Garage: Barn Find Road Trip

Originally appeared on

Book Garage

Let’s say you were going to take a vacation from work; let’s say two weeks. Let’s say during that time, you had the opportunity to experience some sort of automotive getaway? Maybe you would enroll in a driving experience at a race track? Perhaps take a tour of a notable car museum or factory?

Danielle and I enjoy roaming Autorama at Cobo Hall during the winter here in Detroit. Sometimes, when I am not working, I just like to wash my car and go for a drive.

Well, imagine going for a drive, not just for a little while, but for the entire two weeks? And imagine your “auto show” is not confined to a parking lot or even an arena. As in the entire country is your playground?

Would you accept the challenge?

This 1960 Chevy El Camino is in restorable condition. Gary has many of the parts to restore these cars, including N.O.S. trim and body parts. Although these Triumph TR3s are rough, there are enough of them that at least one complete car could be fabricated. Additionally, the owners of British Auto Restorations have loads of spare parts for Triumph. Commonwealth Auto Sales had a number of cars that had potential, including this 1955 Ford two door sedan with a 1957 312. It runs!

Automotive Adventure

Barn Find Road Trip is what happens when three car guys do just that. Auto archaeologist Tom Cotter, his car collector pal Brian Barr, and photographer Michael Alan Ross embarked on a 14-day collector-car-seeking extravaganza. Where these guys were headed, they didn’t need maps or set destinations. They went completely with the wind, documenting every part of the journey.

After 14 years of owning Ford trucks, I now rave about my Fusion, especially the sunroof and cooled seats. Crazy, you think the thing was made of gold as much as I talk about it. However, while I’m cruising with my cooled seats in a new Fusion, these guys are on the road in Cotter’s 1939 Ford Woody. I need to check the correct product specifications, but I don’t think cooled seats were an option in 1939.

However, it’s exactly the kind of car you need on a journey like this. By the time it was all said and done, Cotter, Barr, and Ross discovered over 1,000 collector cars and the stories behind them.

Departing from VIR, we headed north through the rural tobacco fields of Virginia.


For the past 30 years, Tom Cotter has worked on nearly every end of the car business: mechanic, sales, public relations, marketing executive, auto racing authority, historian, racer, collector, restorer, journalist, and author. He has written for the New York Times and Road & Track.

Certified Car Geek” is written on his business cards. I may (I will) commandeer that phrase at some point, Tom.


Michael Alan Ross is a photographer who sees what turns enthusiasts on about cars. His work has been featured in advertising campaigns, auto magazines, and corporate photography collections in the United States and Europe.

Hit The Road

After going through this book, you will want to gather up your buddies and go on a similar adventure. Barn Find Road Trip: 3 Guys, 14 Days and 1000 Lost Collector Cars Discovered is available through Amazon and Motorbooks.

*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 

Barn Find Road Trip Gallery

Our publisher had these decals made for the side windows of the Woody, and we had miniature versions of the decals that we gave out to interested people en route. This is the 1956 Dodge ¾-ton pickup that Charles was driving the night he saw his Super Bee parked on the dealer’s lot in 1970. Today the truck sits in a field near his house. Driving the Woody east across a quaint bridge on a beautiful autumn day was one of many pleasures of the Barn Find Road Trip. From this view, it is obvious that the car is slowly sinking into the earth. The owner has decided to sell the Torino and the LTD as a package deal. Parked near the Falcon at Rob’s Body Shop is this rough Bronco. Owner Rob Haines said he was taking monthly payments toward its sale. Next to the Dodge trucks was this 1949 Oldsmobile fastback coupe, equipped with the famous Rocket 88 V-8 engine. Michael aimed his camera over the fence and this is what he saw! Let me see - right to left, I think it’s a Trabant, a Vespa, and a Model A Ford Deluxe cabriolet. This postwar Chevy sedan seems to be getting squeezed out by trees on both sides! Our publisher had these decals made for the side windows of the Woody, and we had miniature versions of the decals that we gave out to interested people en route.

Last weekend in the Automoblog Book Garage, we looked at three books every car enthusiast should own.

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