Friday, April 6, 2012
A few months ago there was an ad on Craigslist for a bunch of Muscle Cars sitting out in a barn. They were not just standard cars either, there was a 1970 Chrysler 300H (Hurst), 340 Dart, 71 Road Runner and a bunch of other cars. I emailed the owner about the stash and he allowed me to come out and see the hoard for myself. So a blustery Saturday morning, I headed west!
The drive west can be a quick one down I-88 or a more leisurely, scenic drive down Hwy 64. Also there is a good pancake place on 64 just east of St. Charles, IL I highly recommend. But there was no hurry, I planned it perfectly to grab breakfast and meet up with the owner, who was still another hour away.
I met up with the owner, Brent at a neutral location. As he pulled in, I informed him people know where I was at if I go missing. He laughed and told me to follow him. Which I did across the river and through some woods to where the cars were stored at. We drove through some fields and mud til we reached the two barns. The first one was the nicest.
You walk in and are greeted right by the door by the 300H. One of the only vehicles with an engine, also the most complete out of the bunch. It is a rare model, only produced for one year. Has a fiberglass hood and trunk with built in spoiler. 440 Cubic Inch V8 powered with an automatic transmission on the column. It had obviously had a hard life, needed a lot, but was still a good project car.
On the other side of the door was the row of other project cars for sale, including a 69 Dart Swinger right by the door. The poor old girl was in really rough shape, it had been beat up pretty bad. It had been hit across the driver side quarter panel pretty well. Inside the car it looks like it might have been a 4-speed car, but the floor had been cut up. There was a carburetor in a box in the car, and it appears to have been one that came off a 340.
Next to the 69 Dart was a odd 1970 Barracuda. The Barracuda looked awfully familiar. Had fiberglass front fenders, it was originally a sublime green car. I checked the tail panel and it was badly painted blue at one time, but then it clicked... THIS WAS MY OLD BARRACUDA! I had sold it 5 years prior and here it was, in the middle of nowhere. What were the odds? That really threw me for a loop. I could not believe my luck. The only change since I sold it was someone quickly primered the car, and let it sit.
On the other side of the Bakaruda was a 1970 Dodge Dart 340. It was an orange car, automatic on the column with a black interior. At one time this was a pretty sweet car. Even now, it isn't really that bad, there was no engine or transmission but it was not a bad project.
Beyond the orange Dart was the last car for sale in the barn, a 1971 Plymouth Road Runner. A basic 383 car, non-power drum brakes all the way around. Blue interior with blue exterior. Still, I almost had a 71 Road Runner as my first car. I could definitely see myself in this old girl. She wasn't in that bad of shape, definitely something that could be restored.
We moved onto the next barn that was a style I was more accustom too, covered in Raccoon poo and dirt. You open the doors though and you can't help but smile. There front and center is a 69 Super Bee. A 383 big block was once between the inner fenders, and a 4-speed manual transmission behind that. Now both long gone, but it still had the dual scoop hood and 4-speed hump and pedals. But she was very rough, not a straight panel on her. I could see maybe one or two pieces of metal being savable.
In the back left corner was a pretty cool car. A 1969 Dodge Charger, 383 car that had a 4-speed manual transmission but it wasn't a R/T. I guess it was built to go under the radar of the insurance company. But I doubt it would have worked with a big old 4-speed manual transmission in there. This poor car was in really rough shape. Almost everything looked like it needed to be replaced, it had holes in the roof, floors, trunk, etc... The car was raced at one time, from the rather large rear tires on it.
Next to the Charger and behind the Bee was a 1971 Charger R/T. Looked to have been a gunmetal gray color originally. It looked like a good project, the interior was trashed, but all there, the outer body was not terrible. But once I popped the hood the rust was evident. The upper control arm mounts on the inner fenders were completely rotted out. If not fixed the front suspension could collapse. Even though it had a few issues, it was still a desirable car and worth restoring.
The last car of them all was in the other corner, a 1970 Challenger. Originally a 318 small block car, it had lead a rough life. It had no interior, engine or transmission. The car had a dual scoop hood on it, even though it probably did not come with it stock. It needed a complete restoration, or it would be a very good candidate for a new or old Hemi swap. So sad to see it sitting forlorn in the corner of a barn like it is.
With the last car, I talked to the owner for a little bit. The cars had been sitting out there for a few years. The owner who put them there disappeared and stopped paying the storage fee's. After sending certified letters, emails, calling the guy. He never responded. So they got rebuilding titles for them all and were trying to recoup the lost storage fees and much more. I told them I would pass the info on to some people I knew. But unfortunately with a rebuilding title here in Illinois, you can only buy them if you are a licensed re-builder.
I thanked the owner for letting me see the cars, and I headed out. Running through some cool old towns and seeing some crazy stuff. It was a really interesting to find my old Barracuda though, you don't expect something like that to happen. I wonder where it is off to now.