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Tom Cotter and the crushed Mustang Shelby GT500 | Barn Find Hunter

by Hagerty
10 December 2020

Everywhere Tom Cotter and the Barn Find Hunter team travel, they play a game of hide and seek, with old cars hiding and Tom seeking. Tom usually has one friend or contact in each area he explores, and in turn that person will connect him with a few promising leads for other owners or collectors of classic cars.

During a recent trip to find old cars hidden around the San Diego region, Tom’s initial contact was Peter DaSilva. Inside Peter’s garage were amazing artifacts amassed over the years. “This building would be like your bedroom as a teenager if your mother never made you straighten things up,” says Tom before the team heads inside the building. “There are cool things hidden all over the place.”

Inside hide piles of classic car and racing parts with fascinating backstories – everything from original, home-made knock-off spinners to a 1964 Crosslé Formula Libre race chassis lying under a pile of, well, stuff. But we’re just getting started…

In one corner rests an artistic installation. In the 1970s Peter found a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, sat looking decidedly sorry for itself in a car scrapyard. As the damaged Shelby GT500 was beyond saving, he scavenged all worthwhile parts before having it crushed to a cube. The original idea was to make the final brick of steel into a dining table, but you would need a seriously sturdy floor to support the 500kg mass of metal.

Peter also has an unfinished Morris Minor Traveller lying around and needing to go to a good home. But there’s not enough time to extract it from the workshop. Instead, Tom is off to investigate another lead.

Along the way, Tom spies a fellow on the side of the road with an old Mercedes on a trailer and, naturally, Tom stops to ask whether the driver knew where any old cars were. The man introduces himself as Mike and tells Tom that the crew should stop by his place and check out a few of his own cars. When Tom arrives, he’s greeted by a dune buggy – but probably not the Meyers Manx you’re picturing.

The roots of the car are something of a mystery, but that’s what makes it intriguing to Tom. He sets to work trying to identify the Ford engine, gearbox and suspension parts.

This episode of Barn Find Hunter goes to show that a vehicle doesn’t even have to be a car or be in a barn to be a barn find – it just has to be interesting.

Tom Cotter picks his Top 10 finds on Barn Find Hunter

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