LOST & FOUND
Barn Finds & Hidden Gems at MCACN
Barn finds and hidden gems at MCACN
One of the things we like so much about the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals is that it is a perfect microcosm of our entire hobby, all captured under one roof. It’s a multi-make show that fully covers the Big Three but runs way deeper—even to Studebakers in some years. You’ll find beautifully preserved original cars and megabuck restorations. There are purely stock cars and cars from the Pure Stock Drags. Cars for sale and cars that will never be for sale. Cars with fully documented history and cars that are a total mystery. Cars you know and cars you never knew existed.
Any muscle microcosm these days has to include the ever-popular barn finds. The Barn Finds & Hidden Gems display at MCACN never ceases to amaze. Automotive Archaeologist Ryan Brutt carefully curates this corner of the show, bringing out treasures he has learned about—and often documented on his various social media platforms—during his regular travels across the country. As can happen these days, some of the cars stretch the definition of barn find a bit. There are cars that were never really lost per se but have been in storage for decades in a state of benign neglect. But Brutt also manages to dig up (and out) cars from actual barns, some still decorated with the detritus left behind by various species of vermin. Weirdly enough, this is one portion of one car show where an occasional petrified mouse just adds to the charm.
Here are some of the highlights from the Barn Finds & Hidden Gems display at MCACN 2017. Want more? The next Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals takes place November 17-18, 2018, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, right next door to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Visit mcacn.com for more show info.
To keep up with Ryan Brutt, visit his social media links: Facebook( The Auto Archaeologist ), Ins tag ram (@ the auto archeologi st ), and You Tube (@ AutoArcheology).
“A 16-year-old kid won the car”
“The son was a 19- or 20-yearold kid who partied a lot, so the dad took it away and sold it.”
n Doug Perry helped his friend Jason Ball find his dream Fathom Green COPO Camaro several years ago, so Ball returned the favor by telling Perry about this Yenko Camaro. It took almost a whole year for Perry to reach the owner, and he finally bought it just 2½ weeks before bringing it to MCACN. Perry is the car’s fifth owner; the previous owner bought it in 1999 and had kept it with other cars in a pole barn. With 23,000 original miles, the Camaro “was more played with on the street than raced,” says Perry. “It was always pampered, never outside. The paint is almost all original except on the hood and the quarters where the flares were added.” At some point the motor was decked, so no numbers are visible for Perry to determine whether it’s original to the car; he does know the M21 transmission is not. The Camaro sports a Ram Rod shifter, Lakewood traction bars, Ansen Sprint wheels, and Drag Radials “that are hard as a rock,” says Perry. He plans to sort it out to race it at this year’s Super Car Reunion.
n Ric Vanlerberghe (of Ric’s Restorations near Detroit) has a long history with this real-deal L78 Camaro, as it was owned by a high school friend back in the late 1970s. He crossed paths with the car again some 15 years ago, when he was asked to check out an old Camaro in a barn. “It was up against a wall, and I couldn’t get a real good view, but when I opened the hood and saw the big-block engine, I about had a heart attack right there.” Vanlerberghe worked for years to buy the car, even started collecting N.O.S. parts for a restoration, but the owner wouldn’t budge. Never did, in fact. His stepson brokered the deal with him last summer after the owner passed away. Prior to its storage the car had achieved some infamy as a local street racer; the son of a previous owner put the dent in the front fender when he hit a telephone pole trying to get away from the police. Under the Mickey Thompson valve covers and aftermarket carb is the Camaro’s born-with 375hp 396; behind it is the original M21 fourspeed and rearend, although it now houses5.13 gears. Vanlerberghe wants to restore the Camaro but may add some day two parts in a nod to its past.
n Galen Govier calls this the “Holy Grail of Dodge Darts.” Back in 1969, Car Craft magazine covered the buildup of this car over several issues and then offered it as a sweepstakes prize. Keith Black built the 340, Funny Car driver Charlie Allen did the suspension, and none other than George Barris painted it. Bill Shrewsberry raced the car before the giveaway and set an AHRA record in it. A 16-year-old kid won the car, but he never took possession, opting instead to exchange his winnings for—of all things—a Polara wagon. Tom Ellie, the car’s seventh owner, bought it at the Robert Gabeline auction in Iowa last June, after Gabeline had owned it for 26 years.
n Ryan Degenhardt is just the third owner of this 1968 Hemi Super Bee, which was a street racer in the St. Louis area before it was stolen in 1971. It was eventually recovered—without its Hemi driveline—but after the original owner had been paid for the loss. So a local repair shop bought it, put a 318 in it, and drove it. “They never relicensed it,” says Degenhardt, “probably drove it on dealer tags, and when they were done they just shoved it in the back of their shop.” A friend bought it in 1996 and had it until Degenhardt bought it in 2015. Degenhardt plans a driver-quality resto on the car, which wears a set of Spyder wheels. “They’re sort of a Recall wheel knockoff made by Motor Wheel,” says Degenhardt, who owns eight sets of the rare aftermarket rims.
n “Old Deadeye” was lettered on the side of this 1969 COPO Camaro RS when it was raced in the late 1960s. According to current owner Mike Spray, it was purchased new by a Maryland construction company and raced by the son of the company’s owner. Spray said it was “the winningest Camaro in the area,” but the son, who was a “19 or 20-year-old kid, partied a lot, so the dad took it away and sold it.” The car sat for decades in North Carolina. “It was a big fish, but nobody had the tackle.” Nobody, that is, until Mike Kaiser of Arizona Muscle Cars came along. Spray bought it from him about a year ago. The engine is not original but is built around a date-code correct block, which is perfect for Spray, as he’s driving the car. A restoration is not planned.