The Barn Find Hunter climbs through a Toronado to check out a Corvette - Hagerty Media
Tom Cotter is insatiable when it comes to finding cars, and that is for all of our benefit. His latest hunt for the dustiest and most interesting hidden cars took him to Montana, where one gentleman has all manner of interesting four-wheeled oddities from very early Model T Fords to a smattering of Oldsmobile Toronados.
Continuing his adventures in and around Bozeman, Montana, Tom is out to find a man named Bob. Just about everyone the crew has talked to thus far in the trip said, “You’ve got to talk to Bob.” Curious as to what this well-known local might have, Tom goes hunting. The giveaway that he arrived at the right house? A trailer full of Model A parts. Don’t worry though, it gets better from there.
Behind the garage door was a very early production Ford Model A. Bob states it is one of the earliest with the original engine still in the frame rails. After a lesson in the intricacies of early Model A production (hint: it can get pretty geeky), Bob hops in Tom’s wagon and they head for the larger stash of cars that Bob keeps away from home.
That stash consists of a wide cross-section of cars. From the 26 Oldsmobile Toronados to a Berrys Mini T, the collection contains just about anything that catches Bob’s eye. Many of the cars are original and worth preserving. Even with boxes stacked atop most of the cars, it’s easy to see the potential in the old iron parked beneath.
The deepest corner of the shop reveals a hidden Corvette gem. Tucked away so tightly that Tom has to climb through an Oldsmobile to get to it is a C4 convertible sporting the Doug Nash 4+3 transmission. Bob states that while he didn’t order the car, the dealer took it upon itself to order the car exactly as Bob would have ordered it. Upon seeing the ’Vette delivered, Bob took it home. Talk about knowing the customer!
Leaving the big horde of cars, Tom and Bob head to a storage unit just outside of town. A 1912 Kissel sits just inside the door, looking quite dusty but holding the promise of a rewarding restoration. The car began life with a circuit court judge before going through a chain of owners, each of whom Bob seems to know.
To show that pre-war cars are the best cars, Bob lubes the leather clutch and goes about cranking the Kissel over—by hand. No electric start available on the 1912 model. One spin and the inline-six sets into a mellow idle.
Before leaving Bob for the day, Tom goes for a tour of the Montana countryside in that big red Kissel, a reminder of what these vintage machines are made for. That small amount of oil and attention took that dormant car and put it back on the road—right where it belongs.