There are barn finds, and then there are barn finds. This, my friends, is the latter. Longtime fans of Barn Find Hunter know that Tom Cotter has turned up some unbelievable treasures in the past, but I can honestly say this very special discovery is one of the most spectacular automotive experiences I’ve ever had. Come with Tom and me into the deep woods, somewhere in the Carolinas, where a hidden motherlode of barn-find classics slumbers in scattered buildings amidst the poplars, sweetgums, and hickories.
You’d never know that down an unmarked, unpaved road lives a barn-find collection that would melt any car enthusiast’s face off. And when you meet Billy Eubanks—a friendly, soft-spoken old-timer dressed in plaid—you’d never guess he was the caretaker for an automotive goldmine easily worth several million dollars, if not more.
Before you even get to Billy’s house, cars start appearing in the woods. A headlight poking out from behind a tree here, a rusted fender breaking up the forest of green there. It’s raining hard, so near the first gaggle of cars we can hear the rain’s gentle pitter patter on the old metal. A good omen.
When we finally find Billy, he’s sitting in an armchair next to his father, Walter “Bicket” Eubanks. “I’m proud of my cars, but I learned everything about how to work on ’em from my Daddy,” Billy says, motioning to the man in the next chair. “He taught me a lot at NASCAR and dirt-track races, although he mostly worked on old school buses. I learned to weld when I was 14, and at 16 I built a ’34 hot rod with a Hemi that won its class at Charlotte Coliseum.”
The room is dimly lit, but all the shadows are full of automotive signage, trinkets, and memorabilia. There’s stained glass with the Ford blue oval, plus models, posters, and toolboxes in every corner. But center stage in this first room is a Hudson Hornet Special that the Eubanks bought new in 1957. It’s very well kept. Billy explains that he enjoys doing the restoration work himself, and remembers fondly his days teaching auto restoration at his local community college.
But once you start walking the vast, wooded property, anybody with a pair of eyes can see that as much as Billy likes restoration, he’s deep down a dedicated collector. First we see a 1929 Stutz, one of two Stutzes he owns. It’s gorgeous. Next is a 1940 Lincoln Continental with supposedly factory handmade rear fender skirts. There are Corvettes, Mopars, Jaguars, Cadillacs, and more. There is no rhyme or reason to what fills the rooms—if Billy liked it, he got it and fixed it up. Some he drove more than others, but he never got rid of his cars and never even thought about flipping them for profit.
Maybe that’s brought good fortune from the automotive powers that be. Case in point, Billy’s white ’63 split-window Corvette, which was stolen from him once. Billy wanted it back real bad, so he “prayed to the Lord to get it back to me by the weekend.” That Friday night the police in the town nearby called him up and said they’d found it in the woods and it barely ran—the thieves had apparently ripped a burnout so fierce it broke a motor mount and mangled three spark plug wires. He drove it home on five cylinders.
“I got into Chevys because they were easy to work on and get parts for, especially when I was young,” Billy recalls. “I wanted to show them boys at school I knew how to build a car.”
There are buildings and buildings full of dirty, flat-tired but generally well-kept cars at this place, and they’re parked bumper to bumper, as if he filled one structure up the best he could and just decided to start filling up the next. “You get in a rhythm liking one kind, but then you start liking something else,” Billy says. After a 440 Six Pack Charger, a lovely red Daytona (one of three he owns, all purchased because they were banned in NASCAR).
The next structure over is a garage six lanes wide and about three cars deep, filled with a totally eclectic mixture of stuff. Tom immediately gravitates to a pair of rare Fords—a ’69 Torino Talladega with a 428 and a Dan Gurney Mercury Cyclone. Nearby is a ’57 Chevy Nomad, one of several we’ll find today. Next over is a black Lincoln Mk II, another Hudson Hornet, a Chrysler 300, a ’58 Chrysler Imperial that Billy drove to high school (!!), a 1960 Rolls-Royce, a 427 Chevy Impala convertible, and more.
In a shed across the way we find a pair of Chevys, red and green, the latter a ’55 four-door with 36,000 original miles. Behind another door, two old Jaguars, also red and green, plus an E-type.
“We’re walking past stuff here that we’d normally spend an entire Barn Find Hunter episode on, salivating over it, if we found it anywhere else,” Tom says. “Really, there’s just too much to even wrap your head around. I feel guilty about not paying attention and giving credit to them all.”
It’s overwhelming, but for Billy’s wife, Carol Lee, it’s just another day. “When we first got married, he only had a car or two,” Carol Lee remembers. “After our daughter was born I was in the hospital and he came and told me to look out the window. I thought he was just so happy about our little girl, but he actually had just bought another car and it was out in the parking lot and he wanted me to see it. And my life has been like that forever more.”
It is her birthday, and she still has the kindness to show us around what she considers her husband’s life’s work. She concedes that it’s possible she could even discover a car she never knew she had—one time her grandkids counted them all, and there are more than 100 if you include everything in the woods. She takes us past another big-block Chevy convertible, a Camaro Z/28, another ’50s Chrysler, and finally a Lincoln Cosmopolitan.
We stumble upon a black ’40s Lincoln cabriolet with a great story and a trophy to prove it. Billy entered it into a car show and registered in his daughter Tammy’s name, while he hung out in the parking lot to swap car parts with all the other guys there. Sure enough, the car won its pre-war class, and they called out “Tommy Eubanks,” incorrectly, and still Tammy ran up and snatched the trophy so fast to show her dad outside that Carol Lee couldn’t even act quick enough to snap a picture.
In the same building, just around the corner, things start to get even more interesting (if you can believe it). Yes, it’s yet another Dodge Daytona, this one extensively modified with a 426 Hemi, big rear wheels and tires, and likely a drag racing pedigree. Billy explains that the previous owner took it to the Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan, where Chrysler to this day does its testing, and ran it to 190 mph. The owner and the Daytona were promptly kicked out and banned from the premises.
And right nearby is a sibling to the Daytona, a white Plymouth Superbird—the 43rd to roll off the production line. Just a reminder, prices for these range from $91,000–$216,000 depending on condition. Tom is confident that although the car hasn’t been started and run in a while, it wouldn’t take much to get it in fantastic shape, and it has the benefit of being totally original. My head hurts. The scale of it all is absurd.
But it doesn’t let up. A dusty Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz with the most wonderful taillights. Outside, under cover, is the actual ’41 Lincoln Continental that was shot up in The Godfather. Next to it is an Australian Ute from the mid-1950s. A super-clean Chrysler Airflow.
It. Never. Ends.
We head down to yet another building maybe a five-minute walk away, as I’m chased by a pack of tiny Pomeranian-looking dogs. They’re all bark and no bite. But they’re apparently guarding one of Billy’s favorite cars, a 1957 Dodge D500 with a high-performance Hemi engine, one four-barrel carb, and a stick-shift transmission. Bicket bought it new, and Billy eventually freshened it with new paint.
Honestly, I’m skipping over a lot here. Watch the video. Like Tom said, there’s just too much. And don’t forget to notice that in just about every building there is a complete set of tools, many made by Snap-On. But I can’t skip over the metallic blue 1968 Corvette with the Tri-Power 427, four-speed, air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, and side exhaust. This thing was optioned like crazy, and Tom confesses he’s never seen one quite like it. “How you can have cars like this and never got a speeding ticket, I have no idea,” Tom tells Billy.
There are even nicer, cleaner cars in other buildings, including three ’57 Ford Thunderbirds and several Corvettes. Most incredible among them is an L82 Corvette from 1980 that Billy bought new and then drove straight home from the dealer and has never driven again. It has 9.2 miles and all the original plastic. A few cars down is a 1971 DeTomaso Pantera with 14,500 miles. In the basement is Tom’s favorite, a very elegant Jaguar XK120 coupe in dark blue with original brown interior.
Even with an injured knee that makes it hard to get around, Billy is still busy restoring cars. He shows us (in yet another building) a ’59 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz he’s actively working on, complete with factory bucket seats, Tri-Power, and a beautiful red paint. Fair, #4-condition Eldorado Biarritzes command $101,000 and go all the way up to $260,000 for the best examples in the world. It’s absolutely massive and totally impressive and I’m still not convinced any of this is real.
“After hours and hours, I think this is the finest collection of unknown cars I’ve ever seen in my life,” Tom says. “In all the years I’ve been doing this, since I was 12 or 13, I’ve never found a collective group of cars like this. Not ones that so fit the definition of a ‘barn find’ like this. And cars that are so desirable—not just a Superbird, but #43 like Richard Petty, and not just an old Lincoln, but the one from The Godfather. Billy has a real taste for what’s great. And to think he didn’t do it for money, but just because he loved it and to preserve the cars.”
Before we leave, Billy shows us his daily driver, and Tom and I just about burst out laughing. We couldn’t have written the script of the day better if we tried. It’s a red Toyota Prius.