Well, we’ve never seen that before. As if it isn’t rare enough watching Barn Find Hunter host Tom Cotter strike out three times before noon, the latest episode ends with our humble treasure hunter gripping the wheel of a 440 Challenger and squaring off against another Mopar in a street race.
We know, right?
Tom’s annual barn find hunting expedition in northern Michigan (filmed earlier this summer) is even more special this time around because it’s the first time that he’s been out and about since the pandemic hit—a span of about 18 months. “I’ve missed this like crazy,” he says enthusiastically.
Something else that’s new this time around is Tom is driving a borrowed 1970 Challenger instead of his Ford woody wagon, and he’s having a blast experiencing the Mopar’s horsepower.
“I’ve never driven a car this. It’s pretty darn cool,” he says, later adding, “It’s as fast as stink.”
Tom and BFH crew make three separate stops, checking out an International truck, a 1971 Mustang Grande, and several Subarus, but they can’t find anyone home.
“This is what barn find hunting is all about,” Tom says. “It starts off slow, but as you know, sometimes it really picks up speed, and we wind up spending the last few days frantically trying to put all these cars on film so that you can see them … And as I say that I just saw an old Mopar in a garage, so I’m going to turn around.”
Stop no. 4 is a winner. Tom chats with Victoria Wilson, whose husband owns the 1966 Dodge Polara 500 that he spotted from the road. Considering Tom’s mode of transportation on this trip, he declares, “Suddenly, it’s Mopar Monday!”
Victoria explains the history of the car and says her husband appreciates the Polara’s patina. “He loves that it’s not a perfect car,” she says. “… He’s never wanted a car that he’s not [able] to drive.”
Cliff Wilson arrives right on cue and confirms as much.
“It’s got the dent in the back where it looks like somebody’s grandmother clipped the edge of the garage,” he says. “And it has a couple of spots where it has primer.”
Cliff adds that he’s owned the Dodge for 22 years, having purchased it in southeast Michigan after its owner drove it from California and blew the engine. “That’s where it sat until the police impounded it,” he says. The car’s original 383-cubic-inch two-barrel V-8 was then replaced with a 440 before Cliff bought it.
As Cliff talks about the car and the other treasures in his garage—like a 354 Hemi engine from a ’56 Chrysler Imperial—he states the obvious. “I’m a car junky, Tom,” he says. “You know, I’m not the first one you’ve met.”
After coaxing the Polara a bit, Cliff gets it started, and Tom is suddenly struck with an idea.
“We’re going to do something that we’ve never done on Barn Find Hunter before … We’re going to drag race this Mopar against this Mopar,” he says, laughing. “… Best man wins.”
Except he isn’t kidding.
How did it turn out? You’ll have to watch for yourself.
After the showdown, Cliff explains why he loves his Dodge so much. “It’s a real unique car—it’s just not real desirable. And I’m OK with that, because I don’t have guys knocking on my door asking me if I’ll sell it.”
Not yet, anyway. Happy hunting.
— Jeff Peek