Hagerty Video: What Happens to Barn Finds if No One Buys Them – Owls Head Museum | Barn Find Hunter

What Happens to Barn Finds if No One Buys Them - Owls Head Museum | Barn Find Hunter

Posted: 2023-06-27 12:00:13
Author: Hagerty
Ep. 141 – Where do Barn Finds go if nobody discovers them? In this episode of “Barn Find Hunter,” finds out what happens to cars when they are never sold, never discovered, and forced to sit until the the estate sale. Tune in as Toby from the Owls Head Museum explains the process and how it helps fund the Museum’s future. Oh… And you get a tour of their secret stash of cars.

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Owls Head direct donation/ support page

0:00 Intro
1:06 Austin Healey 100 (Le Mans)
5:35 Deciding what to keep
6:02 Using barn finds to make money
6:56 1942 Ford GPW WWII “Jeep”
8:52 British SE5 Plane
10:03 Storage building
10:39 1930 MG Midget
12:33 1952 M38 Jeep
13:39 MG caught fire
14:36 Sweepstakes Porsche 911
15:01 Ford Model A400
15:20 Crazy Story – Milliken Airplane
16:10 Racing trivia
16:32 Crazy Story – WWI British FE8
17:25 1953 Ford F100
17:40 Willy’s Jeepster
18:31 Outro

SPECIAL THANKS to Lenn Soderlund who designed the new Barn Find Hunter logo you see featured in this episode. Like you, Lenn is an avid Barn Find Hunter fan who took it upon himself to design a logo and send it to us. We loved it so much we made it the new face of the series.
– Instagram @lennjamin
– Website: lenn.co

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Like what you see? Watch our other series including:
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Barn Find Hunter | Tom Cotter searches the country for abandoned cars http://bit.ly/BarnFIndHunter
Jason Cammisa on the Icons | The definitive car review
Revelations | Untold Stories About Automotive Legends with Jason Cammisa

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– Literally under the seat, they just had the old tag and threw it in there. This is almost like a $50,000 tag. – He flew this across the United States? – [Toby] Yep. – Just to bring it here? – Yep. – For today’s episode of Barn Find Hunter, we’re at the Owls Head Museum in Owls Head, Maine. This is a transportation museum, so there’s planes and automobiles, and motorcycles, and trucks, and fire engines, and popcorn wagons. There’s a restoration shop, cars on display, an archive. And from the past, when we’ve done museums,

You have responded really positively about going into the back rooms of museums that is closed to the public. We did that at the Lane Museum in Nashville, we did at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and we’re gonna do it today at the Owls Head Museum in Owls Head, Maine. This is one of my favorite car museums. And my friend, Toby Stinson, has been with the museum now for how long? – I’ve been working here officially 10 years and been coming since I was, I don’t know, four years old to five. Grew up down in Tenants Harbor so…

– [Tom] We’re in the workshop area of the Owls Head Museum. Toby just told me an interesting story that this Healey is part of. Tell us about how you got the phone call and the cars involved, and whatever. – Yeah, one of our original fundraisers that we have

Is the consignment auction we have every year. And I get calls a lot of time from people. “Mom and Dad passed away, what do we do?” This car, essentially, was, “Mom and Dad passed away, and we didn’t even know it. They left it in their will.” And a long time ago, they wrote.

You know, they’re coming to Owls Head. So we go up to Lincolnville, down this dirt road in the wintertime, this barn, and there were six cars in there. And four of ’em, we sold, an old Karmann Ghia, and to use money to help with other projects. There were two we’re keeping.

One is an original Ford, Willys GPW World War II Jeep. And then we started digging, and we find this Austin-Healey 100. But then the more we started digging into it, and it’s in the barn, I start finding little snippets that tell me I gotta get into this a little more

And come to find out it’s an Austin-Healey Le Mans, but it’s actually one of the 600 documented ones that were built at the factory. And then we started going through a lot of different triggers to try to verify that that is actually what happened.

It was funny. The car was well restored in the ’80s. When we found it, the cylinder head was off, the oil pan was off. It was a classic barn story find. The valves are over here, the carbs are over here. The cylinder head was in the summer kitchen of the farmhouse

On the workbench, and he basically almost passed away. And what we figured is he was trying to put new rings in it, for some reason. So we got the car here. And we’ve been slowly, Tuesdays and Thursdays of volunteers. Now we’ve got it. We had the cylinder head replaned. We had to have new valve. We rebuilt the entire cylinder head. We found in boxes all the bits and pieces that are correct to the 100M Le Mans that he had collected. So we’re making sure that we put the right distributor

’cause it has a little bit farther advance because it’s supposed to run into higher rpm. We’re putting a correct fuel pump back in, change the gas tank, doing the brakes. And, you know, you can build a new restore tag very easily. Okay? – Oh, yeah.

– And when you’re looking at the Le Mans, you know they have… And the only way you know it’s a factory built 600 is you have to contact the British Motor History Heritage Trust. There’s an acronym for you. And they’ll tell you the numbers line up.

Well, the engine number you can see by the… The rivets hasn’t been taken off, but this is a replacement tab. So when I was in the barn with the son and trying to figure this out, I was pawing through everything ’cause old people never throw anything away.

And I actually found, literally under the seat, they just had the old tag and threw it in there. But in the high-end collector car world, if this is one of the 600, this is almost like a $50,000 tag because it’s the only original piece that validates that this really is the original numbers.

– [Tom] What year? It’s ’54? – ’56, I believe. – ’56, so this is one of the 600 models of the car that raced in Le Mans? – Yeah, well, they raced the car at Le Mans and then they produced a kit so you could have the same version.

And like most things in the ’50s and ’60s, right, they’re dealer installed, you could buy and do your own. But 600 of them were done at the factory and those are the valuable ones, and this is the original one. I pulled the trim metal off because the number,

They asked me for the numbers in the back of the trim to match that number. And also the number on the key tumbler had to match. If you look at the certificate, it says this body number, this engine number, this sequence number, and they said that’s the key tumble number.

– Isn’t that true? – And it all lined up. So, I mean… – [Toby] So have you done anything cosmetically to it yet or just cleaned it? – We blew the barn dust off it and kind of, like, wiped it down. We’ve mostly really been focusing on all mechanicals

And the guys and the girls here, and Tuesday, Thursday nights, fantastic. They’ve got it running really, really well. But the gas tank was junk. So we’ve got a new gas tank, we’ve got a new fuel pump on order, and now Dennis and the crew and George are going through.

And now it’s all brakes, wheels, cylinders, master cylinders, things like that. – [Tom] Is this a keeper for the museum? – Yes, for the foreseeable future, this is a keeper. A lot of people wanna support Owls Head’s legacy and be a part of it. Well, this is a great example.

They left us six cars. We kept two because the World War II Jeep is important to keep to tell that story. And you can’t really bookend the Model T without the Jeep because the production process, World War II, that’s the Jeep that changed the world. This is a rare sports collector car document.

We keep this one. The old MG TD, the old burned out Karmann Ghia, and the other Austin-Healey that we were able to get running. You know, we sold those. But that money, you’ll walk into the aircraft side, and you’ll see these aircraft are getting worked on

Because we had a good year with donating. Like, a car has value and so we try to exercise the value to benefit the museum as a whole. Also, if you’re here earlier, you saw a bunch of school programs. We’ve got two extra educators that are working here because we have such high demand

For our school and STEM activities. Well, the money comes from, you know, you give us five or six cars, five model Ts funds x number of school trips. – Right. – Most people think we want the car to be in the museum. And maybe it will be,

’cause I’ll take your Packard, no problem, and we’ll have it looking great. But how can we turn this value into value that continues our legacy? So it’s like a constant fantasy football trading lineup. You have to make those decisions, but… – So can you show us the Jeep that was the other keeper?

– Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. – [Tom] All right, so what year is this? Tell us about this Jeep. – Yeah, this is a 1942 Ford GPW. And the reason I say Ford is because during World War II the US government bought… You know, they paid to have the contracts and designs made. Willys had the design.

Ford produced a majority of these in World War II. This was in the collection we mentioned in the barn. When we found ’em, they probably hadn’t sat since dad passed away for seven, eight years. We cleaned the carbs and the gas out of it and this thing started right up.

We had this one on our registered to drive list, probably doing the 4th of July parade. We had our little auto tour a couple weeks ago. This thing did all 80 miles. You know, it’s the Jeep. It’s the car that changed the world. – So did you have to do

Anything to it cosmetically? Was all this on there? – [Toby] This is how she looked. Yep, this is how it looked. – Wow. – [Toby] You just washed it. Yeah, blew the dust off it. – [Tom] I mean, this might refurnished. – Actually, we did one thing mechanically.

The second or third time we drove it, the shifting fork in there bound up. So we got a new shifting fork, pulled the cover, and got that working again pretty easily. – I mean, this could be original, these seats? – I believe the vehicle, at one point, has been restored,

But this is original type material. You feel that kind of like that tackiness? – Yeah, yeah. – That’s the oil soaked through the cloth. – [Tom] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. – For right now, this is kind of little military area. A lot of our early vintage aircraft are First World War-centric

Because that’s when aviation really kind of took off. And we also have those two crosses up there. Those are actual crosses cut out of a downed German fighter plane by Sumner Sewall, who was an ace and former governor of the state of Maine, and he shot the plane down.

And in World War I, you had to go confirm your kill personally. For like 50 years, those hung over the bar at the Montsweag Roadhouse. – On Highway One. – And then we preserved them and put ’em here. – So one thing I know our viewers love

Is to see what people can’t see. So you have a building nearby here that contains cars that are not on display. Could you get us in there? – Yeah, absolutely. It’s our brand-new storage facility that we just opened. – Probably cleaner than all the other storage facilities we went to.

So, good. I’d like that. – This is that plane I was telling you about. This is a British SE 5. And the construction techniques is 100% original, authentic 1918. This is the first plane designed by the British to have inverted fuel tanks. Hopefully, this is one of the projects that we pick up

And turn back into full-flying replica. Now, these planes originally had V8 Hispano-Suiza engines. – [Tom] Wow. – And we have an original 1918 V8 Hisso, all rebuilt, dyno tested, ready to go in this plane, and it’s gonna be 100% authentic, true recreation. – Is it an aircraft engine or car engine?

Does it make any difference? – I think it’s an engine adapted for aircraft. It’s not air-cooled. It’s a big water cooler. It has a big radiator on the front. – Yeah, I’d say most of the storage buildings we go in are not this clean. So didn’t you guys inherit a bunch of MGs a number of years ago? – Yes, we probably have… I’m not saying the, but we probably have one of the best MG collections in the United States,

And we’re kind of a Mecca for the MG nuts. A couple years ago, we sold a custom-built early MG for, like, 220,000 in the auto auction. Remember that one? So Dick and Dottie Cobb of Gardiner, Maine, again, we talked about the legacy program. They passed, she passed away first,

And then Dick donated his entire MG collection to Owls Head around 2010. There was 30, some odd MGs. – Holy mackerel. – And what we started to do is once he finally passed away and the estate was all settled, we went through a selective process, had a committee,

And we went through and said, “Look, we don’t need 30 MGs”. But what we did was we kept what we felt was the most significant example of that year. And this is one of the earlier ones, MG Midget, 1930. And there’s another early one in the auto shop

Which we’re bringing back to life. We do more than working with that. – [Tom] Will you restore this or you just preserve it and keep it as is? – We’ll probably keep it as is. The whole direction of the industry, as I don’t have to tell you, is preservation.

Preservation, yeah, but one thing we do is it’s like sailing. You know, let the wind lead the lady as you go down the water, is you start with the car and you do your first checks. You know, is the engine stuck? If it is, why isn’t it? Is it free? What’s it’s compression?

Can we get spark? Oh, we got spark. And if you’re here on Thursday night’s volunteer crew, it’s like, “Oh, we can.” It’s like it’s alive again. And then you kinda go through (Tom laughing) and then you say if you’re gonna restore it in a museum setting, you gotta do it right, okay?

This is how it came outta Dick and Dottie’s warehouse. And it’s like, Tom, where do you start? Where do you stop? When they have MG Day at Greenwich sometime, I’m sure they’ll appreciate this just as much unrestored like this, as is. But you look at the leather… I mean, look.

I mean, you can tell this is the original leather. – [Tom] I can’t believe it. This little car has got backseat. This little car, I mean, in theory, this is a four-seater. – Little, it is. So at some point she’ll get her time to kind of go through.

And, like, with the Austin-Healey working on, you gotta give our volunteers credit. They have become crackerjack MG mechanics and Austin-Healey mechanics because all we’ve been working on for the last five or six years is about 30 MGs. (laughs) – I get it. Yeah, I get it, you know.

This one, this Jeep. Like, how do you like that? – Yeah, so this is a good example of what I was talking before. So this is an authentic 1952 Korean War era M38. This actually was consigned to our fundraising auction a couple years ago. And a gentleman bought it,

And there’s a matching authentic trailer right there. And he bought it, and then unfortunately he got sick and passed away. Wife downsized, moved to Florida, and she called us up and said, you know, “He’s gone. Would you guys want the Jeep to museum?”

And so we took us a donation and we kept it. Then one day, we got a call. Now we have the World War II Jeep. And so what we’ve decided to do is this one is probably gonna be moved on from, because now we have the ’42.

– [Tom] So this would be the option? – [Toby] We made a historical interpretation of if you can keep one Jeep to represent it, then keep the one that changed the world. So that’s the decision we’re making. – [Tom] And so this will go to auction?

– [Toby] This will be New England Auto Auction in August. – [Tom] So when is your auction? – August 25th and 26th this year. Preview opens the 23rd and their majority of them are all consignments. But we get some of these vehicles, like this MG over here.

This is the one that came out of the estate last year. It would’ve gone last year but we had an incident before the auction. So short version is she caught fire. – [Tom] Oh. – [Toby] Well, ’cause the carburetors dripped and the starter, we got it to run.

But the starter was old and it arced. At the same time, the car was dripping gas and it flared up. You know, two seconds, we were done but we said, “You know what, we’ll go through this winter and put it back,” so… But this is what’s fun about, you know,

Carrying the hobby on. It runs and drives really, really well. It needs a little love, but you don’t maybe have necessarily have to pay a full price. But someone’s gonna get this. And I was sitting in that auction, you know, when I was eight years old, and my dad bought a Model A,

And what do we do my whole life growing up? You know, we’ll come to Owls Head and get involved. So this is kind of, you know… It’s like reincarnation or something. We’re carrying it forward. This is our sweepstakes car this year. If you go online, it’ll be in the lobby pretty soon.

’69, 912. It’s got a Harry Pellow built industrial engine, so it’s got some guts to it. And so this is online right now and that’s the sweepstakes that we’re running throughout the season. And we’ll be- – So you could buy tickets as around from them? – Yeah, you can buy chances online

And we’ll be giving this car away come August, October actually. This was donated a year ago. – [Tom] Is it A400? – This is an A400 convertible sedan. We’re keeping this one. This is, of the deluxe model As, only a second to the two-door Phaeton,

And I just know ’cause my father and I have one. This is the rarest of Ford Model A body style, next to the Town Sedan. But the production one’s Murray bodied, A400 convertible sedan. And the aircraft behind you, the Milliken special, that plane is exactly untouched, even the sand,

From its one and only flight. Bill Milliken was a young kid from Old Town Maine. He loved being an engineer. And when he was in high school and reading popular mechanic’s books and things, he built his own home-built aircraft and took it like everybody else.

Old Orchard Beach was one of the flight testing areas of the country and racing at the same time. You know, before Ormond Beach and Daytona, it was Old Orchard. And the original prop we have that’s broken, and he took off and when he landed,

The sand was soft and he dug in, and nosed over. We’ve got a photo of him next to the plane, scratch his head with an upside down. – [Tom] What kind of motor is that? – [Toby] I don’t know. It’s a good question. – [Tom] So he built that himself.

– He built that himself. He’s a little guy. And actually, here’s the thing, ’cause you’re a SCCA guy. – Yeah. – Who was the only living person to ever have a corner name for them at Lime Rock? Which corner? – Corner? – Milliken Corner. – Milliken Corner. – That’s Bill Milliken.

That’s this guy. – And he’s from Maine? I thought he was from New York. – Old Town, Maine. – Wow. – Born and bred. And then he went on to be an engineer for Boeing, worked on the B-29. And so his origin is right here.

– So look at this planes. It’s a pusher plane. – It was built to look like a British FE8 which was a pusher plane, 1916 model. We’ve flown it. Five or six years ago, we were still flying it. It’s failed, really, all of its safety tests. It needs to be completely re-restored,

Which takes a lot of effort and money. But this plane was built in the early 1980s in Washington State and for the sole purpose of flying it across the country, to be donated to Owls Head. And he just followed roads and would fly around at like five or 600 feet,

He would find a farm field. – He flew this across the United States? – Yep. – Just to bring it here? – Yep. And when he landed, he said, “Here’s the keys.” – Man. – Hold up, here. What up? Yeah. – (inhales and exhales) Isn’t that something?

I know ’36 Ford, probably a ’53. – Yeah, and this is our workhorse. You see all the stuff in the back. But when we do flight line, this is one of our flight line safety vehicles. We got the fire extinguishers and the yellow flashing light, and they’re running up and down.

‘Cause these planes, the tail draggers, you know, once they land, you know, sometimes we gotta turn ’em around and pull ’em back. – If you’re a longtime viewer of Barn Find Hunter, you remember an episode that we were in California and we found one of these.

And actually all of us, all the camera guys, I mean, we fell in love with it. I fell in love with it even more when I opened the hood and it was actually a Chevy engine. The other guys said, “Eh, I don’t want it anymore.” When sports cars were all the rage,

Guys come back from World War II, MG TC, TDs, TFs, Austin-Healeys, Jaguars, whatever, Jeep, duh, what do we do? So this was a Jeep sports car. This is the best they could do. They didn’t have a big budget and they were terrific. Is this a six cylinder or four cylinder?

– [Toby] Six-cylinder Willys Jeepster, yep. – [Tom] So they came initially with four cylinders and then they came with six cylinders. And now, lots of ’em have 289s and LS Corvette Drivetrains. Great vehicle, great vehicle. Wow. Operating museum is not easy, whether it’s an art museum or sculpture museum,

Or a history museum, or a car museum. And so we got a little bit of a look into how this museum, the Owls Head Museum in Maine operates. Cars come in, they’re donated. Sometimes those cars are restored and kept on display. Sometimes those cars are sold as is.

It’s a good thing for people to donate cars if they can’t donate money to a museum. It keeps them healthy. Toby has given us kind of a back scene tour of archives, the workshops, and told us a little bit about how a car museum functions, how they’re capitalized.

So what’s the parting shot you wanna leave people with about this museum or some other museum? – We feel that the best way to tell, you know, history, certainly in the last 120 years, is through the stories of transportation. We are a species that has been put on wheels and on wings,

And we try to keep that spirit alive here. And come see us some summer at Owls Head and we will run, drive, and fly the cars and planes. – Cool. Well, you heard it right there. So if you’re coming to mid-coast Maine, visit this place. And if you’re not coming here,

Visit a place that’s close to you. Happy hunting.