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Barn Find Hunter: Uncovering thousands of British motorcycle masterpieces

by Hagerty
8 April 2021

There are a few things Tom Cotter – aka Mr Barn Find Hunter – likes to do the old-fashioned way, and finding vintage vehicles by doing his own legwork is one of them. However, the occasional tip comes through that he can’t ignore. In this case, it’s a call from Steve Davis who has a 365-foot long chicken coop that is no longer used for our feathered friends. Instead, the coop is crammed with all manner of vintage cars and motorcycles.

The property might look familiar to long-standing Barn Find Hunter viewers, because Tom first visited back in 2017. There weren’t enough hours in the day to investigate all the vehicles in all 12 of Steve’s buildings, so Tom decided to return and take a more focused approach. This hunt is all about motorcycles, and the collection is epic.

The starting point is a lineup of 1960s Hondas, which for Steve represents the literal starting point of his bike collection. In his youth, he borrowed some money from his father and fixed up a few Honda 50s. Soon, Steve realised he was never going to get rid of anything, and the proverbial snowball started rolling. Today, he owns an avalanche of timeless machines.

A couple highlights include a fleet of unrestored Yamaha motocross bikes from the late-’70s, a Wankel rotary-powered Hercules, and a Czechoslovakian-built CZ whose odd starting method is its claim to fame. The shift lever on the bike’s left side pushes in and flips over to become the kickstart – one lever to do it all. In the end, though, Steve’s hoard is merely the appetiser to the main course that exists just down the road.

The second collection is owned by Robin and, despite being just 10 miles from Steve’s well-known property, was entirely unknown to Steve until recently. Robin is a British expat who loves the motorcycles of his mother nation and has acquired and stashed a multitude of vintage machines.

The cornerstone is a Vincent “Red” Rapide that he purchased in 1964. Robin has done a lot of work to the bike over the years to upgrade it to Black Shadow specification. Interestingly, just 26 Vincents like Robin’s made it stateside, and the red paint is said to have been sourced from the US Post Office fleet. Sitting right next to the red Rapide is a black Rapide that has been a part of this collection for 50 years as well. When Robin buys, he buys what he likes and holds onto it.

Tom Cotter jokes at the outset of this episode that the nice thing about motorcycles is their compact size; you can store 10 bikes in one car’s worth of space. A motorcycle collector can easily amass a decent collection in a small garage or storage space, but that also makes bikes a bit tougher to find out in the wild. Tom loves a challenge, though, and that’s why we love him.

Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and tune in each Friday for new Barn Find Hunter episodes. These motorcycles are just the start of the new season, and you won’t want to miss the great finds just around the corner.

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