Saturday, March 24, 2012
I was invited by a gentleman to come and view the Trolley Car facility in Kenosha, WI. I'm a fan of trains and trolleys, so I jumped at the chance to see the place. Also since the Tour was only a few hours long, it gave me plenty of time to go Barn Find hunting around the area.
The Vintage Trolley Cars of Kenosha are a real treat. The line loops around the downtown area and along the lakefront. The Lakefront once the site of an American Motors factory. It has all been redeveloped into a Museum Campus and lakefront homes. The Trolley Barn where they are stored is able to hold eight Trolleys on tracks, and 2 on the side. They do all the restoration and maintenance in this one building.
After the Tour I had no definitive plans, so I started running around looking for Barn Finds. Right away I found something special, a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T in Plum Crazy Purple. It was sitting next to a lone house on an old cobble stone street on one side. It had been sitting there for a long time it looked like. I sat there for a second looking at the bullet holes in the windows and contemplated not going to the door and asking about the car.
Luck was on my side, the father of the owner walked out and was on his way to the store. I talked to him for a moment and he said he would let my son know I stopped by, but asked I not lift up the cover. So I thanked him, snapped some pictures from the road and went on my way. I have yet to hear from the son.
I continued on my way though, started driving around the area looking for a restaurant to grab some lunch at. When ever I travel on an expedition I never hit up the normal fast food fair. I always try to go someplace local. Not finding anything that really made me want to pull over for... I drove further and further away from Kenosha. On my way to eat, I discovered a 1970 Mustang Fastback sitting in a yard just off the road. Looks as though it had a cheap repaint. The Mustang did not look to be in terrible shape... from the road. Unfortunately nobody was home to talk more about the car.
Finally finding a nice restaurant in Downtown Racine. I made a loop to get back to the road home and ran across this 1968 American Motors Javelin SST. Definitely rough, but a good project for someone.
Popping out back on the main street, out of the corner of my eye, behind a business there sat a row of cars, mostly Dodge and Plymouth vehicles from the looks of it. I called the number on the building, but no body answered. So I snapped a few pictures from the road and headed back to Kenosha.
Back in Kenosha, Brad the Trolley engineer had brought out another one to move some stuff around in the barn. And just as he did, a couple came up and asked to take some wedding pictures in it. So they did! I pulled up just as they were finishing up.
Parting company with my friend, I went and followed up on another yard full of cool cars in Kenosha. I had visited the yard on another expedition, but the owner made it very clear by a large sign in his driveway not to step foot on his land. So I took some pictures from my car of some of the cool stuff he had lying around, turned around and headed out of town.
On the way home, not expecting anything special, I found some of the coolest finds of the day. Sitting next to an old repair shop in I don't know where Illinois was a Pinto station wagon, a 1970 Dodge Coronet and first generation bug sitting in the back of a truck. And just a little bit down the road was more cars sitting outside another old repair shop.
So sad to see so many good projects sitting out there rusting away. Hoping for the day when someone brings them home and restores them.
Friday, March 9, 2012
I have a fondness for Dodge Travco Motor homes, especially ones built between 1962 and 1973. Travcos were the first Class A Motor home, they had a fiberglass outer body with a inner steel skeleton that rode on a Dodge HD truck frame. They had everything from the Poly-spherical 318 cubic inch V8 to a 440. When I talk to people about them, I relate their design to a Twinkie on wheels.
For a while now I had been looking for one. Trying to find a clean one is not easy here in the Midwest. One day last fall a 72 Travco was listed on Craigslist not a far from my home. So like putting a carrot in front of the donkey, I had to investigate it. With my luck, when I got there, it had already been sold. But the guy still let me look around and view the Travco and his other project.
This Travco was a 270 model, which meant it was 27 feet long. It had the “High Performance” 413 cubic inch Dodge V8 big block, with a HD 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission. In the back was the Onan 6500W generator that are still made to this day. She was in rough shape, had been well used and put away wet. It would require a lot of time and money to get her road safe. The interior needed to be redone as well.
Sitting next to the Travco was another of the owners projects. A 1971 Dodge Charger drag car with a fiberglass front end. There was no VIN on the dash or fender tag to see what the car was was originally. And I wasn't about to start tearing off the remains of the tarp to get at other locations with VIN numbers. But it looked like a nice project that I hope he finishes, or someone does. Before it is too late for the old girl. (Notice the sweet Caprice sitting in the driveway?)
Afterward I didn't think much of the Travco, looked at other projects and future barn find trips to spend my limited funds on... and then there it was on Craigslist again! The same damn Travco, and it was even closer to my house. It was even on my way to work. Was it sheer luck or fate that would draw us together? Unfortunately the new owner wanted too much for the old girl that I found out didn't even have reverse. So I passed on it and soon she disappeared.
Every once and a while my mind drifts back to Travcos... Imagining how cool it would be to travel around the country looking for Barn Finds in a classic old Dodge Motorhome. I really can't think of anything else more fun!