Ever watch Wayne Carini and his “Chasing Classic Cars” show? Have you dreamt of finding that perfect car under a tarp in the back of an old farm?Tom Cotter does just that in a web series for Hagerty Insurance called “The Barn Find Hunter”. Check out Episode 1 at the bottom of the article!
Cotter, 62, was born in New York City and grew up car-crazy on Long Island. He has worked in all segments of the automotive industry, including repair, parts sales and new/used car sales. He also spent 25 years in auto racing public relations. Cotter, now lives in North Carolina, and has found plenty of diamonds in the rough since he bought his first car, a 1940 Ford convertible.
“Cars become my friends. It’s as hard for me to say goodbye to a long-owned car as it is to say goodbye to a longtime friend,” said Cotter, who has written 11 automotive books, including the award-winning In the Barn series. “Cars have personalities that I grow comfortable with.”
That’s a level of automotive love that many people won’t or don’t understand. It also means that he has the desire and the tenacity to find those hidden gems. You might not have the level of dedication but here are 5 tips to help you find that hidden gem in your neck of the woods.
1. You Can Go Home Again – Do you remember, back when you were a kid, the car guys around town? You know, the guys who had old cars or stock cars or drag cars littered around their properties? Well, just because you’re now an adult doesn’t mean those guys, and/or their cars, have disappeared. I’ve searched out and bought a number of cars that I remember seeing while looking out of the school bus window.
2. Saturdays and Sundays Are Best – On weekdays people are working and their garage doors are closed. You’d need x-ray vision to see the cars inside. On weekends, however, folks do household chores like yard work and washing cars. Quite often, those garage doors are open. Keep your eyes open for an automobile that might be lurking beneath piles of lawn furniture, sleds and bicycles.
3. Car, Foot or Bike – Driving through residential neighborhoods, especially on weekends, can be fruitful. But riding a bicycle or even walking or jogging through congested neighborhoods can be even more effective. Pedestrians travel at a lower rate of speed, and it’s easier to stop and turn around. Plus, pedestrians are less intimidating than someone driving up in an SUV.
4. Look Behind Yourself – My wife, Pat, has been reminding me, “Look where you’re going,” for decades. Frankly, I’m deaf to it now, but there have been times I’ve had close calls. When looking for cars, it’s important to remember that the same road can look different depending on which direction you’re headed. So I always look over my shoulder while driving past houses and buildings; cars might be hiding on the leeward side.
5. Dead End and “No Outlets” Are Best – Since dead-end roads are less traveled, they often bear the best automotive fruit. Most motorists, me included, don’t enjoy making three-point turns at the end of a road or street, but that’s where the best finds might be parked. Check it out sometime.