Every car enthusiast dreams of a barn find. An untouched piece of automotive history sitting in a run-down barn in an open field filed away 30 40 years earlier. The view obscured by a door overgrown by vines. A barely visible hub cap or hood ornament. There are hundreds of signs that there might be something of value behind that fence. It is a story that you hear behind every great restoration project. My question is where does it all begin and how does a person move forward once that car is located.
I recently came across a 1970 Chevelle SS sitting under a carport. Doing a little research I learned it had been sitting there untouched since 1993. Upon closer inspection it was sheltered from the weather, for the most part. Everything looked like it was there: bumpers, emblems, motor, and glass. This was a complete car with the letters SS and numbers 396 printed down the side. Did I just happen upon a car worth $100,000 sitting between home insulation and a fire wood pile? Knowing very little about anything I needed to check a few vital numbers before I could let myself become overcome with sweaty palms weak knees heart pounding out of my chest pupils dilated all the signs of desire. First, is it for sale? After the go ahead with an asking price I needed to find out if this car was what it looked like. Vin, check. engine number stamp, check. Protect O Plate Numbers, Check. Everything matches. This is a real SS 350 hp big block American made muscle car. Sitting in front of me was one of the last unregulated power houses to come off the assembly line from the era of torque and horsepower. I had established that is was complete, now I needed to figure out if this was a $100,000 car or a $300 scrap pile. A close look over the car showed signs of neglect. Leeks and surface rust were on or in every panel. Rust in the rear corner panel, leeks in both doors, and the interior was shot.
Motor had been sitting untouched for 19 years without being cared for. The rear window had rusted completely out no thanks to the vinyl top. It was obvious that there would need to be a complete restoration. Rear corner panels $400 per side, trunk panel $100, roof panel $250 and that is just to replace the rear window. Cow hood, oh what a work of art but broken $600. Interior completely gone, interior kit $2500. Just to make it roll Rims and tires $2000. Rebuild motor $5000 Transmission $3000 rear-end $1500 brakes $500. Fuel system flushed new lines, new tank, and new carb. Everywhere I looked was a dollar sign, not one but thousands of dollar signs. This barn find was starting to look like a money pit. Stepping back wiping off the dirt and cobwebs I had to do a quick cost analysis.
What I quickly found when I got back to the front of the barn was I didn’t care. This car still had life and it is my responsibility as a man to make her come back. Flush the engine and radiator, rebuild the carb, run a fuel line to a milk jug add a fresh battery and turn that baby over. Blown exhaust gasket, leeks everywhere but she is alive. Now the adventure starts one bolt at a time. Keep a look out for the next update to see how this story grows with each new article.