Everywhere Tom and the Barn Find Hunter team travel, they play a game of getting and chasing leads to scope out where old cars are hiding. Tom usually has one friend or contact in each area he explores, and that person will connect him with a few promising owners or collectors. In the case of his San Diego trip a while back, that initial contact was Peter DaSilva. However, though Tom and crew were itching to hunt for the cars Peter had mentioned, Tom thought it would be fun to drop in on Peter’s shop to poke around the piles of interesting artifacts he had amassed over years.
“This building would be like your bedroom as a teenager if your mother never made you straighten things up,” says Tom before the team heads inside the building. “There are cool things hidden all over the place.”
Of course, Tom tells no lies. Inside is a smorgasbord of vintage racing parts with fascinating backstories—everything from original knock-off spinners sitting on a desk to a 1964 Crosley race chassis lying under a pile of, well, stuff. In the back corner rests a weird piece of art. Peter found a Shelby GT500 years ago and, since it was beyond saving, so he scavenged all worthwhile parts before having it cubed by a crusher in New York. The original idea was to make the final brick of steel into a dining table, but you would need a seriously sturdy floor to support the 1100-pound mass of metal.
Tom then heads off in the woody to investigate another wild automotive lead. He spies a fellow on the side of the road with a Mercedes on a trailer and, naturally, Tom stops to ask whether the driver knew where any old cars were. The man introduces himself as Mike and tells Tom that the crew should stop by his place and check out a few of his own cars. When Tom arrives, he’s greeted by a dune buggy—but probably not the contraption you’re picturing.
The engine is an early flathead, and the rest of the mishmash of parts on the car point to an early-1950s build. Honestly, it looks pretty wild, but we are willing to bet the buggy was mighty fun out on the sand … almost as much fun as Tom had as he rolled around San Diego to find it. This episode goes to show that a vehicle doesn’t even have to be a car or be in a barn to be a barn find—it just has to be interesting.