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Three terrific Triumphs in Tom Cotter’s backyard | Barn Find Hunter

by James Mills
17 June 2021

Even in Britain, it is rare to find three Triumph sports cars living within 300 yards of each other. Rarer still for not one of them to be a Spitfire. Yet that’s exactly what Tom Cotter discovered when out jogging around his local neighbourhood, in Davidson, North Carolina. And here they all are, in the latest episode of Barn Find Hunter.

In episode 103 of Barn Find Hunter, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down America, Cotter forgoes driving his 1939 Ford Woody Wagon in favour of another car that he’s owned for years: his Fern Mist 1953 Ford Ranch Wagon. “I bought this car in 1972 as a high school senior” recounts Cotter. “My girlfriend said, ‘I’ll never ride in that car.’ Now my wife of 46 years, she has ridden in this many times.”

Cotter explains that the seller wanted $100 for the Ranch Wagon, but he agreed to take all that teenaged Tom could afford: $85. “It had a surf rack, curtains in the windows, and mag wheels. Then about 25 years ago I restored it.”

It’s his ride for the day as he takes in his local neighbourhood and meets the owner of a Triumph TR6, another who owns a Triumph Stag and one who opens up her garage to reveal a gleaming Triumph TR4A.

First up is Chuck’s 1975 TR6, which he has owned since 1994. “I loved the lines,” he says. One day, Cotter ran past Chuck’s garage and saw him tinkering on the TR6, so he stopped to check it out. It runs much smoother than it did then, since Chuck spent a lot of his downtime during the pandemic working on it.

He tells Cotter that he’s now planning to sell the car, but Tom encourages him to hold onto it. Chuck is already doubting his resolve.

“You know, every time I get it running right, I say I’m going to sell it, then (I think), ‘I can’t sell this car.’ But I think my wife is tired of me doing that.”

Just down the road is Mark and his 1971 Triumph Stag, built the first year the car was available in America. The two are greeted by a puddle of oil. “The first sign that you’re in Triumph territory is the oil slick,” he jokes.

As a teenager, Mark convinced his father to buy the V8-powered Stag for his mother in 1981, and it has now been in the family for 40 years. Cotter remembers the strong odour that hung in the air the first time the Stag drove past. “We call that British car cologne,” Mark says with a smile.

In addition to the rare Stag, Mark also shows Cotter a pair of Jeep CJ2As in his garage. Then it’s on to Triumph number three, Jane and Bob’s 1966 TR4A.

Bob bought the four-cylinder TR4 new in 1966 and drove it as his daily driver for years. “One day he just disappeared, and then he came home with this car,” Jane says. “… He drove the kids to school every day. They put the top down, they sang – they still sing the songs. They were very popular in that car.”

Cotter also visits another neighbour with a 1957 Studebaker Provincial Wagon. That makes three Triumphs, two Jeeps, and a Studebaker. It’s amazing what you can find in your own backyard.

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