The debate rages on, should one buy an old car labeled as a barn find, spend the time and the money to restore it bit by bit, or should one spend the extra money and buy a restored car that’s had someone else’s money spent on it? The definitive answer to that question is, “That depends”. I’ve done both. I’ve restored two MGBs and a Datsun 240Z. Have you noticed there’s a Corvette club, but no Maytag or Whirlpool club? All three are man-made machines and serve people with specifically described functions. However, only one generates memories that fosters life-long affections. Cars fill an emotional void and create special memories. Washing machines don’t. In my tainted youth, I cut my teeth on British cars who only had to be driven across a damp rag to short the distributor out. Strangely enough, having a car die in a most inconvenient place and time lends to its charm, or at least I’ve tried to convince myself of that. There’s also a special victorious feeling when one finds an over-priced obscure part after weeks of searching. A toaster oven can’t generate that kind of emotional response. Have you noticed there’s no kindred feeling when you find a neighbor that owns the same make and model Maytag refrigerator as you? Maybe part of rebuilding a car from one’s ill spent youth is a tie that binds. Recalling a twisty, autumn-colored lane far from the main thorough fares with a great woman who was wrenched from your life by a simple twist of fate connects experiences. Maybe a car restorer expects to be repaid in some way with better experiences and memories from a car that suffered years of neglect and abuse. Well, I come from the camp of discovering a barn find and bringing a neglected machine back to its original level of function. It is almost like saving a soul.
I’m ready to find another Mercedes owner that has a great story to tell for next month’s piece. And for those of you that glean craigslist and bringatrailer.com looking for that vehicle that takes one back to a special time in their lives, happy hunting!