When Tom Cotter scours America and Britain (yes, he was here in 2020) looking for hidden automotive gems, he’s not just looking for interesting stories and more fodder for his next book. He’s also also at heart a collector who can’t resist taking on another project car. In the latest instalment of Barn Find Hunter, the great car detective takes us inside the barn where he keeps many of his own vehicles and shares the stories behind the machines.
Early on, Cotter introduces us to two Datsun 510s, including one that he has a long history with that’s got a fresh coat of paint and is nearly ready for assembly. Also in the fray is a 510 that’s showing a bit of rust and in need of a restoration of its own. Next up is a racing car with a difference. Cotter has owned a race-prepared Morris Minor for more than 30 years, and it’s got stories to tell. The Minor was co-driven by no less than Brian Redman, the sports car ace who as good as came back from the dead follow a crash in 1977. Although it is currently without an engine and gearbox, the race-prepared classic has served Cotter well on the track, including stints in endurance racing.
Cotter’s family has had a long history with Volkswagens, so it’s no surprise there’s a couple of Wolfsburg’s finest in his collection. He pulls back the cover on a mildly customised 1960 VW Beetle convertible that wears Porsche wheels and opens the engine cover to reveal a Judson supercharger that boosts power to a much more exciting 50 horsepower. It may not seem like a lot, but the factory engine was only good for 35 horsepower.
Next up is another Morris Minor race car, but this one’s even more of an oddity than the first as it sports an early grille that relocates the headlights from their familiar wing-mounted location. This one’s topless for less drag and slotted all over with air ducts. After brief stops at a couple more of his cars, including a Volkswagen Golf GTI MkII that Cotter and his wife have owned from new, it’s off to a new site.
The next venue is a property with a couple of cars that are seriously ambitious projects. First off is a 1946 Ford pickup hybrid with a rare Marmon Harrington 4×4 drivetrain. Originally a woodie wagon, it was used as an alternative to a chair lift at a ski slope. When its wood-built body rotted, the body and bed of a Ford pickup were grafted on. Cotter has an additional woodie for use as a parts car which should help him get that rare piece of history restored to its original condition.
There are even more cars in the video that we didn’t mention, but one of the final projects that get some screen time in this episode is one you may not have heard of. Only about 20 Standard/Triumph Vanguards were produced in left-hand-drive for North America and this one is about to be put back on the market.
As Tom Cotter points out, storage facilities such as the one he uses himself, with all the cars under the same roof and visible to any visitor, make a good place to scout for your next project. The cars are still out there. All you have to do is know where to find them.
Missing in action: Tom Cotter meets a Mini Cooper that was lost for five years | Barn Find Hunter
12 barns and 170 classic cars: Tom Cotter and Barn Find Hunter save the best for last during their tour of Britain