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Dual Barn Find Book Reviews

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Published on Mon, Nov 9, 2015

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Barn Find Road Trip by Tom Cotter

LA Car Dual Book Review by Doug Stokes (with a musical recommendation and some strange song lyrics.) BARN FIND ROAD TRIP By Tom Cotter Forward By Bill Warner Hardcover, 410 Illustrations, 9” X 10” ISBN: 978-0-7603-4940-3 Published by Motorbooks / Quarto Publishing Group $35 USA / £23 PRE-REVIEW MUSICAL NOTE: This review was written expressly to be read with Betty Buckley singing “Memories” from the musical “Cats” in the background.) Barns are where you find them and what people like author Tom Cotter habitually finds in those barns seems a never-ending parade of vintage automotive rolling stock that entrances, excites, and entices. I have previously vented my deep, personal (mock) hatred of this man (directly in his face once at AutoBooks in nearby Burbank) who habitually finds cool cars and then has the temerity to rub our sweet little little punims in it … book after book after book. In this book, Tom (I feel that, after all these books, I can refer to him by his given name) takes us (and two close buddies) on a 14-day, 2,280-mile road trip through five or six states unearthing cache after cache of wonderful old machines. Here, because of the journey and the interplay between these three hale fellows, there’s a lot more stories told (… many of them with a ring of veracity!) and a lot more exposition of the art and “science” of actually finding barns that, in point of fact, contain what seems an endless supply of incredible automobiles and motorcycles, some seemingly buried alive, and all patiently awaiting Cotter and team’s visit. From decades-old stock cars (this run spends a lot of time in “Thunder Road” territory, e.g. West and plain Virginia) to real cars that real trees (not those little rearview mirror things) have grown up through, the story’s the same, but different each time, each find. “Is it for sale?” “Well now, that depends on who’s asking.” “How long has it been in the family?” “Let’s see now … Billy bought this one when he got back from Korea…” , “When’s the last time it ran?” “Oh … a couple-three years ago, I think.” , “What’ll you take for it?” (see answer #1 above), “Have you …?”, “Yeah, I’ve got a FEW more old ones out back …” All part of the fabric of engagement about some significant (or maybe just mildly-interesting … but cool nonetheless) automobile, truck, or motorcycle that’s seen better days and has been napping for a while. Besides finding and disinterring a bunch of bitchen old crocks, Cotter and his travel partners, collector Brian Barr and ace automotive photographer Michael Alan Ross, offer some special takes and tips on the two-week trip adding a nice list of “Best Of” just about every roadside attraction that can possibly be graded (and even some stuff that flat defies grading) on a road trip including: Best Barmaid, Best Breakfast, Best Old Building, Best Road Name and twelve or thirteen more items that this trio has officially judged as “the good stuff”. Almost as much fun as the hunt itself is the vehicle that the hunters chose as their command car a seriously hopped-up (and blindly yellow) 1939 Ford Woody which (I’m sure) seemed like a good idea at the time, and that’s presence actually does open a few garage … er … “barn” doors for the intrepid trio as they traverse the throughways, thoroughfares, and back alleys of six states in this two-week trek. Their back-up was a brand new Ford Flex that would come in handy a couple of times when its older predecessor decided to throw an air conditioner belt or three. (Right … you are correct … I know, pre-war Ford Woodies did not have air conditioners on the option list … but, then, that’s what makes this particular trip extra fun.) As in all of Cotter’s previous books, the cars are the stars, but, as earlier note, the stories of the people who owned these cars, for how long, and why is always the entangling part. We all hope to meet people like this, and well we might, even right down the street if Cotter is correct (and his record has been pretty damn good so far!) (Well) over 10,000 pictures were taken along the way on this automotive odyssey* and the 400+ that finally made the cut are all easy to understand, and at least a hundred of them are downright “drool-overable”. This is the “best buddies on the ultimate deluxe road trip adventure” that many of us have had on our personal bucket lists for a long time. Cotter closes this one with his own “Top Ten Rules” of Barn finding. They range from “Always search on the wrong side of town” to “Google Earth, Ultralite, or Drone”. In between he suggests writing letters, hunting (for barn finds) in the winter, making friends with local lawyers, talking with local old timers, embracing dead ends, and a few other ways that he uses to find barns … and, specifically, barns that harbor some very interesting cars, trucks and motorcycles within. OK … And so it was bad enough for a car nutball like me to get another (darn) Cotter book about all the wonderful damn cars that he (and now him and two buddies if you don’t mind) turns up just by aimlessly driving around the streets and countrysides of this great land of ours. And then to my amazement, only a few scant days later find that our faithful postman strolled up to our mail box and left me a second book on the very same subject … I find myself thinking to myself: For some, patina is a form of porn. Oh, well … Onward:


Amazing Barn Finds and Roadside Relics by Ryan Brutt

AMAZING BARN FINDS and Roadside Relics By Ryan Brutt Hardcover, 192 pages, 8.25” x 11.25 ISBN: 978-0-7603-4940-3 Published by Motorbooks / Quarto Publishing Group US: $35 MSRP First take… Every one of the hundreds of photos in “Amazing …” looks to have been taken “where it lies” in golf talk, or “in situ” if Latin is preferred. And, better still, each almost appears is if it had been shot with a single on-camera flash. In this case the starkness of the illustrations sort of adds to the air of authenticity, as in: “Here’s your photographic proof that these barn finds are genuine … the real deal.” Author Ryan Brutt, who writes a column for Hot Rod Magazine (… one guess as to what that’s about) has divided his book into five chapters with themes like: “Rode Hard, Put Away Wet”, “Odd Circumstances”, and “The Patient Cannot Be Saved”, all of which conger up ideas about what conditions these wonderful derelicts where found in and where they had hid out for all these years. There are two narrations in “Amazing Barn Finds … etc.” The main copy body (in a nice standard non-serif type face) talks in general about the chase and the romance of the hunt. And then there’s the captioning of the photos is set in a variation of (I think) “comic sands” attempting (I guess) to appear as though the photos are (almost) part of a personal scrapbook. Adding to the effect, a number of the shots are printed to look like they are affixed to the pages with masking tape in a semi-haphazard style. This is an inexact science and we all well know it. All of the above typography and artwork works well to further involve the reader and move author Brutt’s case-by-case study of the whys and wherefores of the Barn Find neoreligion along apace.. On further examination, every armchair (old car) adventurer is going to need this one and the Cotter book as well just to prove to themselves that the adventure is still out there, available, wiggleing it’s rusty ears at us from under 50 years worth of cardboard boxes, mop heads, termite dust, and rat poop. Barns: the final resting place. These are the stories of the Barnfinder “Cotter-Brutt” … Their endless mission : to explore strange old structures, to seek out old cars and even older parts and pieces … To boldly go where no barnfinder has gone before … (with apologies to you-know-who) AFTER THOUGHTS: And you thought that “Heart of Darkness” was heavy stuff. Just understand that the Grail is almost always “Only a half-day’s drive from where ever you are … every day and often includes tomorrow. (I’m not even sure what I meant by that, but some of this finding stuff so borders on the metaphysical, and after using the word “quest” at least sixty-seven times above … well, it just felt right. “DOC” Stokes’ PRESCRIPTION PAD: Both of the above books are highly recommended for all moderate to advance levels of car nut syndrome. However must, in all good conscience (as well as to stay clear of any potential problems with the FDA) list some of the possible side effects associated with barnfinding: Unbridled jealousy (bordering on hatred) of the author (now authors), An unusual craving for rust, A tendency to mash the brakes abruptly and at odd times (e.g.: when catching a glimpse of an odd nose or tail of something “interesting”), Spending endless hours on the internet looking for a real deal, Watching every last one (and all those re-runs) of those “Find-Fix-Up and Sell” TV shows and chewing your fingernails down to the quick whilst viewing, Risking divorce, and general mumbling to one’s self about the one that your buddy got and that you missed. If any of these conditions last more than four days … DON’T see a doctor, get in your car and get on the trail! One more thing, please try NOT to write a book about it … Thanks! -DS Ending on a musical note as we began …I’ve here cobbled up my own version of “Cool Water” as sort of a left-handed compliment to Dan Cotter. Hum along with me, won’t you? Keep a moving man, Don’t you listen to that Dan, ‘Cause talks a lot of plans for Barnfinds… Old, cool … Barnfinds. Keep a moving man, He’s a Barnfinder, not a man, And he’s got a farmer’s tan (Looking for) Old, cool … Barnfinds. Old Dan and I, with well-pealed eye, And lips that cry for Barnfinds … Old, cool … Barnfinds. Keep a’moving man, Don’t you listen to that Dan, Cause he’s broke a lot of hearts with Barnfinds … Old, Cool … Barnfinds … Old, Cool … Barnfinds. [nggallery id=amazingbarn] *a couple more books on the subject and we suspect that word, odyssey, will officially be changed to “cotterssey” as a general term referring to the journey that peeps who do the Barn crawl take in quest of cars. (Are you listening Matt Stone?) To order "Amazing Bard Finds and Roadside Relics" on Amazon, click here. To order "Barn Find Road Trip" on Amazon, click here.

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