Barn Find Hunter: Eclectic British, American, Italian barn finds unearthed at Buick dealer - Hagerty Media
In a departure from his typical methods of finding cars by old-fashioned sleuthing and poking around, Tom Cotter follows a tip from a viewer on the latest episode of Barn Find Hunter. And it leads him to a fantastically cool former Buick dealership in Iowa. Bet you can guess what happens next.
The dealership—built in 1941 just before Buick switched from building straight-eight car engines to wartime V-12 and radial aircraft engines—has interesting Art Deco architecture and lots of charm. There’s even a curved glass façade and generous use of glass blocks. The building’s owner, Robert, tells Tom a bit about the history of the structure, and Tom can’t help but peek inside for his first glimpse of the cars that have been stored away for decades. The first he’s able to identifying is a diminutive, door-less two-seater known as the Crosley Hot Shot.
Tom is all smiles as he finally sets foot inside the building and gets on with the exploring. First, the cover comes off a 1968 DeTomaso Mangusta, the svelte mid-engine Italian sports car was the predecessor to the long-lived Pantera that also used small-block Ford V-8 engines. Unfortunately this car was without its 302-cubic-inch V-8 and manual transaxle, but it appears that the small-block’s headers were still in place.
Moving further into the dealership yields a wonderful variety of sports and GT cars. A Jaguar E-type, MG MGC-GT, and Facel Vega are worth noticing, but Tom is drawn to the biggest of the bunch, a fully-restored 1965 Imperial convertible complete with 413 big block power. Next up is a Toyota-R16-powered Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite and another British roadster, an MG TD.
Robert and Tom spend a moment poking around the wonderful French GT car that we saw earlier, a 1957 Facel Vega FVS that’s powered by a Mopar poly V-8. Inside the trunk there’s a GT-style fuel cap on a nicely finished fuel tank. After a quick stop with the six-cylinder MGC, it’s off to another Italian, a Lamborghini Espada. The roomy GT is powered by Lamborghini’s V-12 engine and which is fed by six Weber side-draft carbs. With 20,000 or so miles, it looks like it’s a tune-up away from being ready to hit the road.
Next, the pair make their way to a 1963 Jaguar E-type, Robert’s dream car that he’s owned for 35 years, before heading to the old bodyshop portion of the dealership that offers up a Willys Jeepster and a litter of tiny Crosleys, including the Hot Shot Tom spotted earlier. Robert and Tom explore more of his eclectic collection before making one last stop at the Imperial to hear that big-block Mopar V-8 fire up and rumble.
This Barn Find Hunter has some of the widest-ranging cars under one roof. But rest assured, Tom will always be on the hunt to see if he can top it with the next find.