Missing out is part of the game when it comes to hunting barn finds; Tom Cotter knows this better than most. He follows a solid lead in Bozeman, Montana, and arrives at the resting place of a long-stored GT350 only to find that the owner is out of town, and he can’t see the car. What does he do? He keeps hunting.
The next lead he decides to chase takes him down the recommended roads for those in search of old cars—dirt, rural, and dead-ended. A quick question posed to a local gives Tom the extra information he needs as he follows a tip on a fleet of Dodge Power Wagons stashed in a nearby field.
Owner Matt Ely has a passion for the utilitarian beasts of Dodge’s extensive truck lineage, and it shows after just a few seconds with Tom. Ely’s collection spans decades of the same truck, with conditions ranging from a solid start to a restoration to “multiple broken welds on the cab and the frame.” That doesn’t make the history of the trucks any less interesting, and Ely seems to know the backstory of each truck. Spoiler alert—the Yellowstone graphic on that truck doesn’t mean it came from Yellowstone. Bummer.
Tom then heads to the home of the man who’s helped him during this Bozeman trip—the man behind the entire hunt, so to speak. Lyle was Tom’s eyes and ears leading up to the trip, sending messages with lists of cars, locations, and phone numbers. Lyle also has his own stash, and Tom is curious to peek in the outbuildings and see what’s lurking in the corners.
It’s a Ford-heavy garage for sure, with a ’66 Mustang coupe mid-restoration for his son and a ’69 Mustang convertible for his wife. In another building was a Cougar XR7 with green paint and a 302 under the hood. Next to the Cougar, though, sits an unassuming, sun-faded blue ’69 Mustang. With no hood scoop to give it away, Lyle reveals to Tom that the relic lying dormant before them is in fact a factory 428 Cobra Jet. It’s an oddly optioned coupe with quite a story to tell.
That Cobra Jet find serves to reinforce a common theme in this episode of Barn Find Hunter: it takes persistence to find the good cars. Regardless of where you look, taking the right steps will lead to something with an interesting story; you just have to suss it out.
As Tom would say, “happy hunting.”