4 sweet barn finds from the 2018 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals

The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) has been bringing the finest in American muscle to metropolitan Chicago for 10 years, wowing the newbies and placating the jaded as promoter Bob Ashton and his henchmen/henchwomen bring together gobs of muscle for the rest of us to savor.

The 2018 event took place November 17–18, and perhaps the most popular display was Ryan Brutt’s Barn Finds. You may have seen Ryan’s work within the pages of Hot Rod and elsewhere, and at MCACN he manages to organize some heavy artillery (albeit ones that need restoring) to feed our own dreams of finding that proverbial car in a barn.

Here are some of our favorites:

1970 Ranchero GT “Twister Special”

1970 Ranchero GT “Twister Special” barn find
1970 Ranchero GT “Twister Special” Diego Rosenberg

You may be familiar with the 1970 Mustang Mach I Twister Special, as 96 Grabber Orange cars were prepared for Total Performance Day at Kansas City International Raceway on November 7, 1969. Another 90 Vermillion Torino Cobras were also prepared for the event.

Few know that there also were two Ranchero GTs prepped for this promotional event, but little was known until Wes Eisenschenk’s Lost Muscle book hit the shelves a few years ago. After that, we learned all we needed to know about these MIA haulers, including VINs.

Earlier this summer, Ford enthusiast Dustin Harriman checked out the Craigslist ads in the vicinity of the Boss Nationals in Kansas and found a Ranchero that piqued his interest. He and pal Jonathan Worthington were able to confirm it was one of the two missing Twister Rancheros. Both were painted Vermilion and were equipped with the 429 Cobra Jet with ram air plus the Drag Pack, making them impressive even without the Twister history.

1968 Plymouth Hemi GTX Convertible

1968 Plymouth Hemi GTX Convertible barn find
1968 Plymouth Hemi GTX Convertible Diego Rosenberg

After the debut of the GTX in 1967, it was time for Plymouth to redesign its B-body series. Plymouth delivered a rounded, three-box design with the GTX receiving a standard non-functional scooped hood and racing stripes along the sides. The Division also shuffled its product line, creating the hierarchy of Belvedere, Road Runner, Satellite, Sport Satellite, and GTX.

With standard 440 Super Commando power, the GTX was touted as “The Boss” in ads because, in its basic form, few could touch it. Of course, add the 426 Hemi and the space between time and distance was reduced. Combine the Elephant with the convertible body style and you’d have a very special vehicle, one of 36 U.S.-spec cars built (and the most popular Hemi ragtop built between 1966–71). Frank Quarantello owns this Sunfire Yellow example that features a white interior (with green components), black top, and green stripes.

1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire

1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire barn find
1963 Oldsmobile Jetfire Diego Rosenberg

One of the most interesting American cars of the 1960s is also one of the biggest sleepers. The 1962–63 Jetfire was a fancy F-85 Cutlass with an Olds-engineered, turbocharged, Buick-designed engine—almost like a baby Starfire with a bit more tech.

The engine itself was an aluminum 215-cubic-inch V-8 with 215 horsepower. Oldsmobile claimed it had developed “a system whereby a specially-formulated Turbo-Rocket fluid [consisting primarily of water and alcohol] is injected into the engine. This fluid controls combustion by keeping a more uniform burning rate during combustion in each cylinder. Injection of Turbo-Rocket Fluid makes possible turbo-charging at a highly efficient 10.25-to-1 compression ratio with readily available premium grade gasoline.”

Only 5842 were built in 1963, and 1391 were equipped with the M20 four-speed manual, according to the GM Heritage Center. The son of the original owner of this Jetfire approached Jim “Jetfire Guy” Noel to inquire about value, and Noel then brought it to the attention of enthusiast Eric Jensen. Eric fixed two bent pushrods and two flat camshaft lobes to make it roadworthy for MCACN.

1971 Pontiac GTO Judge

1971 Pontiac GTO Judge
1971 Pontiac GTO Judge Diego Rosenberg

The Judge was out of step with the times when the 1971 model year began. Psychedelia was passé, but General Motors prepared for dark times by lowering the compression of all its engines in ’71 (even though it wasn’t mandated until 1972). The new round-port 455 H.O. was rated at a paltry 335 gross horsepower (310 net) with 8.5:1 compression, which sounded depressing except this 455 was actually faster than 1970’s 455.

Pontiac saw fit to discontinue the Judge package in February 1971, with 16 built in March and one single Judge in April—this one. Why did it take two months to build? Holly Hagen Specken’s mother special-ordered it at the insistence of her husband, who was finishing up veterinary school. The order included a special request that the Judge come in 1970’s Orbit Orange, which explains the delayed build and the lack of painted Endura front bumper (which was never painted body color).

With gas and insurance getting expensive, the family parked the Judge in the late 1970s. Last December, Holly’s parents gave the Judge to her and her husband, Scott, but her father passed away unexpectedly in April of this year, so he wasn’t able to see the Judge up and running.

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