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Corky's Cooler'n
Dangit Blog

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The art and poetry of the barn find

It’s no mystery that we love old cars around here. We make products for old cars and work on them all the time. It never gets old when a trailer backs up to unload some old neglected pile of rusty junk, and we always race out there like kids on Christmas morning. Nothing captures the imagination like the obvious story captured in the patina and dry rotted tires of a barn find. We all imagine what we’d do to restore a find and sometimes what we wouldn’t do! That’s the twinkle you see in grown men’s eyes, staring at a fresh barn find. It might be the most similar thing to giving a child a refrigerator box. Sometimes it’s not how much a toy costs, it’s the awesome potential therein, the inspiration of the dang thing, if you will.
Every now and then, the boss shows up with a new set of marching orders, the kind of orders that make us all smile. “Drop what you’re doing, we’re going to get a car…” or something like that. It’s never along the lines of “Will you be able to make it?”. Old cars are serious business around here and none of us question whether or not we can go get an old car, it’s usually more like a question of how many of us get to go on the mission. Corky’s passion for old cars is on full display when you hook a tow chain to the axle of something mired in barn dust. It’s infectious. (as though we needed help in that area!)

It’s also a complex equation, the barn find. People usually fantasize about finding the rarest of old cars in perfect condition and turning the profit, but it’s more than that. An untouched barn find is a self contained museum and time capsule. You get a snapshot in the life and times of someone when you find stuff crammed in the trunk, under the seat and nailed to the nearby walls of the barn. It’s a time warp to the days when someone was trying to change spark plugs or that nagging repair that became too much to fool with and they just bought another car or truck to drive, freezing the old car in time.

It’s also a sad reminder that father time picks on all of us, with someone’s prized possession that stayed in the barn as a means of protection, became trapped when the owner simply got too old to care for it. Sappy? Yeah it is, when you air up the tires on one of these barn rescues and roll it out into the sunshine for the first time in decades, it is emotional. That’s why we do it! The great thing about a barn find is that the history comes with the purchase, no matter how much or little you restore it.

So yeah, it’s a little sad to think that time ripped apart a man and his prized vehicle, but it’s also exciting to put someone’s baby back on the road. We’d all want our old cars to live on, instead of rotting away or meeting the indignity of the crusher. There plenty of pride for for us in saving a lost car or truck, and all of those emotions come crashing down when you drag that rickety barn door open for the first time.

When Corky called and said “get your camera, we’re going to get an old F100 out of a barn”, for a minute it was just another day in the office. Then that twinkle showed up in all of our eyes on the ride out to meet Larry Ashford at his shop. We met Larry and checked out his old cars and projects for a few minutes before we headed out to rescue the old truck.

Larry’s the typical Tennessee hot rodder. He loves old cars and knew this one was worth checking out. His problem was that his project basket was full, which led to calling Corky up to pass the deal on. That’s how old car guys work, “if i can’t have it, my buddy needs to buy it!” We knew we were in good shape when we pulled up to find the old boys leaning on a pickup truck in front of the barn. They knew the entire history of the old F100 and shared some great stories with us, before we got to work dragging it out.

Fortunately for us, Larry brought a broken tow chain and ended up using his 1952 F2 Tow Truck to pull out the 1955 F100, which was way cool! The recovery was a snap, and the old truck was in great shape for its age.

We made a day out of the pick, having a late lunch at a roadside greasy burger joint, before heading back to the shop to unload the prize. We were bubbling like school kids as we rolled the truck off in front of some other employees who had that very same twinkle brewing in their eyes. Like we said, we love old cars around here.


Posted 11/21/2012