Wherever Tom Cotter hunts for barn finds, he’s also looking to visit old friends or guests that have been on previous episodes of the Barn Find Hunter. Aside from shooting the breeze, they may have a good lead on a local barn find. This time around Tom stops by to see his friend Dave Coleman, who has added a few cars to his collection since Tom last saw him.
Tom and Dave got to know each other at the racetrack—Tom races a Corvette, Dave a Porsche—and the day they met, Dave drove a Model T to the racing venue. That sparked a fateful conversation.
“I mentioned, ‘It’s always been my dream to drive a Model T across the United States,’” Tom says. “He said, ‘Mine too.’ Two weeks later, I called him … ‘Were you serious about that?’ He said, ‘Yes, I was.’ One year to the day we met, we were driving across the United States in a Model T.”
Tom turned their adventure into a book, Ford Model T Coast to Coast. “That car did not break down once,” he says. “We had one light bulb that went out, that was it.”
First up on Tom’s walk through Dave’s property is a 1951 Hudson Pacemaker, which Dave describes as “the cheapie of the Hudson lineup. The one that got all the press was the Hudson Hornet. The Hudsons were NASCAR champions (three) years in a row (1951, ’52, and ’53). They handled better than all the other stuff.”
Dave gave the Pacemaker a Rayjay supercharger, Jaguar carburetor, and a five-speed transmission. ““This is a Hudson like none on earth,” Tom says. “There’s nothing like it around.”
Up next is a 1960 Ford Starliner with a 360-horsepower, 352-cubic-inch V-8. “This is what you would have gone to the dealership to buy to begin a NASCAR race car,” Dave says. Although restoring this car would likely become a money pit, Dave has a beautiful 1960 model into which he can swap the engine.
After taking a quick look at a Porsche 914 with a 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine, Tom checks out a familiar-looking Model T race car. “This is what Dave was driving at the track the day we met. I said, ‘You’ve got some crazy cars, and he said, ‘Come over to my house, I’ll show you the rest.’”
Dave explains that this custom build “has a Ford frame, chassis, transmission, rear end, running gear, suspension, and a Model T engine from the head gasket down.” What about from the head gasket up? “There was a lot of speed equipment made for Model Ts back in the day to go racing. This is a Roof 16-valve OHV conversion [that] doubles the power from 20 to 40 horsepower. What can you buy today that’ll double the power output?” He says the car tops out at 80 mph … which means it’s time for Tom to take a ride in it.
Once back at Dave’s, Tom’s attention turns to a 1963.5 Ford Falcon Special with a 260-cubic-inch V-8 and a four-speed transmission and then a Merkur XR4Ti, one of three German Ford Merkurs that Dave owns. “I haven’t seen a Merkur in several years, and you have three of ’em right here.” Dave says the XR4Ti has “great aerodynamics” and a 175-hp, 2300-cc, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which has propelled the same model car to 200+ mph at Bonneville.
We aren’t done yet, Dave says. “We’re going to look at one more car out here.” But before he can open the doors, we’re hit with the dreaded TO BE CONTINUED …
— Jeff Peek