The latest Barn Find Hunter finds Tom Cotter in southern California, thanks to a tip from Burbank’s Autobooks-Aerobooks proprietor Tina Van Curen that leads him to an eclectic collection of cars. Tom begins by meeting Astra, whose car-loving husband has recently passed away, at her home. Helping with the tour is her late husband’s friend, Davis.
The first payoff comes when they lift a garage door to reveal a 1965 Citroën Ami 6, an evolution of the iconic 2CV powered by a larger two-cylinder, air-cooled, horizontally opposed engine, with updated bodywork and a reverse-sloped rear window reminiscent of a Lincoln Continental. On a much smaller scale, of course. It appears to be in great condition and shows 75,000 miles on the odometer. Tom slides behind the single-spoke steering wheel for a moment and takes in the quirky French design.
Parked just ahead of the Citroën is a 1968 Datsun 510 that was purchased new. Rust-free and completely original, the 88,000-mile Datsun is in fantastic shape. It even has the plastic sheeting covering the door panels that was never removed by the dealer. Datsun 510s earned a loyal following by being both fun to drive and affordable. Their road race and rally prowess were proven by racers around the world, including Shelby alum Pete Brock, whose BRE Datsun 510s won back-to-back SCCA Trans Am championships with John Morton behind the wheel.
The final car stored in the garage is a beautifully preserved 1939 Buick Special coupe powered by a 248-cubic-inch inline-eight. Its burgundy interior looks freshly restored and the car appears ready to hit the road.
Tom and crew then move on to Davis’s home, where a 1981 Ferrari 400i is being serviced. Powered by a 4.8-liter V-12, the big grand tourer is a rare sight in the U.S., as both the 400i and the 365 GT4 2+2 it evolved from were never officially imported. The 400 marked the first Ferrari to be offered with an automatic transmission, GM’s heavy-duty TH400 three-speed, but this one is equipped with the optional five-speed manual that significantly increases its value. Still, they are regarded as a bargain. As Tom signs off, he notes: “This is probably the last affordable 12-cylinder, front-engine Ferrari you’ll see in a while.”