The last time we followed Barn Find Hunter Tom Cotter on his search for hidden treasure in northern Michigan, Tom ended the show by drag racing his borrowed 1970 Challenger against Cliff Wilson’s 1966 Dodge Polara 500. This episode is a little slower-paced than that, but it ends with an iconic performance car that’s been hibernating since 1993.
Following up a tip from Cliff, Tom and the BFH crew visit Bob DeVol, who worked at a Case dealership as a young man and is naturally partial to Case tractors. First up is a 1952 Case with fairings over the wheels so that tree branches slide past the tractor—and its driver—while working in the orchard.
Bob also shows Tom a rare 1949 model that was built exclusively for export. He says only 40 of them were built, and just five remain in the U.S. Bob owns two.
After that is a 1939 Case Model R, which is smaller than the others and features a distinctive starburst grille.
Bob says he maintains all the tractors in his fleet himself. “If I can’t do it, it doesn’t get done.”
Bob’s treasured collection isn’t limited to farm equipment. He keeps a handful of old cars in his barn, and he’s owned many of them for decades. Bob worked for Chevrolet for 50 years, so of course he’s partial to the brand. But he also owns several Fords, including a 1930 Model A that belonged to his father-in-law—Bob’s wife learned to drive in it—and a 1950 pickup truck. “The last of the flatheads,” he says of the truck’s engine. “I just had to have one.”
Bob’s Chevys include a 1950 fastback with only 11,000 miles from new; he also owns a ’36 and a ’40.
After Tom enjoys a spin around the property on one of Bob’s tractors, it’s time to meet Tony, who works for Hagerty and mentioned to Tom that he owns a car that’s been in storage for 28 years. Rolling up the storage door, Tom spies the covered car and tries to guess its identity by its shape. He gets the marque correct; it’s a Buick.
Not just any Buick, either—a first-year 1984 Grand National with 3.8-liter SFI Turbo engine. A former media-use car, it has only 31,000 miles on the clock, is rust-free, and is all-original right down to the air in the tires. Tony says he plans to get it back on the road soon, but his other cars have been a priority.
Tom reflects that there’s a lesson to be learned from this episode of Barn Find Hunter. “I firmly believe that everyone knows somebody with an old car … (so) talk to everyone you know.” Just asking a simple question—“Do you know anyone who owns old cars?”—pays off more times than not.