Pre-war to Performante: Barn Find Hunter in Utah hits paydirt—in a basement - Hagerty Media
So many of the Barn Find Hunter adventures center around connecting with locals and chasing leads. Tom Cotter is among the best when it comes to that, but his greatest fear is simply running out of time. Thankfully, Tom didn’t have to confront that fear during the last two days of his Utah trip.
After spending the first few days making friends with local restoration shops, the leads begin rolling in. They reveal not just cars, but stories. The first is from Ruben, who leads Tom and the woody wagon to a large garage with a 1937 Ford, done in the style of cars he enjoyed during high school. The fastback has all the right appointments, from the Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels to the ’39 transmission and juice brakes. It’s an undeniably cool hot rod.
The day gets even more interesting when Tom heads over to Steve Sewell’s house, where the garage door is already open revealing a handful of shiny cars. But Tom isn’t here for shiny cars, which is how ends up in a basement built to accommodate 12-13 cars, combing through an array of interesting metal. And wood.
The cars started as bits and pieces, and Steve carefully assembled correct body structures from barn wood and other materials based on photographs. The giant mail truck fascinates Tom, from the fact that it survived decades in a field to the latch for the rear doors. It is a behemoth Chevrolet that reminds us how it all worked back then, and how far we have come.
Of course, there are projects at Steve’s place too. In another building are a doodlebug in process, with the frame already bobbed and the engine ready to go back in. Next to the car-turned-tractor is a replica Lamborghini, a company that went from tractors to cars. Now sporting a small-block Chevrolet engine, the replica would surely make a purist cringe.
In all, Saint George started off as a trip that Tom and the crew thought might be a bust. Instead, he found dozens if not hundreds of cars. All it takes is a bit of talking and asking questions, and Tom isn’t out to keep how to find cars like these a secret. You just have to go out and look.