Sunday, December 26, 2010

Junkyardlife book review: 'The Corvette in the Barn' by Tom Cotter

Photo courtesy Tom Cotter
Old cars hitched to stories worth remembering. It's a simple formula that has been successful for author Tom Cotter and his ever-expanding 'barn' series books. Cotter's latest effort, "The Corvette in the Barn," continues to fuel the imagination of automotive junkies around the globe. Cotter reveals how the pursuit of an automotive relic is as much fun as owning the Corvette, Porsche or Ford Pinto of your dreams. Many stories in "The Corvette in the Barn" are jaw-droppers, that revolve around the luck of discovering a super rare car and capitalizing on a great deal.  

Worth buying? 
If you have visions of finding a dust-covered dream car on your own terms and at a discount, this book is your benchmark for success. You may not have the bankroll of Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld but discovering a desirable car may become your claim to fame and fortune. Cotter's 
diverse foreign and domestic 
catalog of treasure hunts is sure to please a wide variety of brand loyal followers.
Photo courtesy Tom Cotter
TVs 'Green Hornet' fever strike teen
One of Cotter's intriguing stories features a South Carolina man's desire to own an original 'hero' car from the 1966 'Green Hornet' television show. His quest to find Black Beauty, the car driven by the Green Hornet's sidekick Kato, played by martial arts extraordinaire Bruce Lee, led him to a little old lady in Southern Michigan. "Even as a kid, I just really liked that particular car," said 46-year old Karl Kirchner. His long-distance friendship with Opal Wall, eventually brought Wall's 'Green Hornet' car, known as Black Beauty, back to South Carolina. The rare car, is one-of-two custom 1966 Chrysler Imperials built by renowned customizer Dean Jeffries. The value of Black Beauty is sure to soar with the release of "The Green Hornet" motion picture. Who says cars are bad investments?

Sizing up "The Corvette in the Barn" 
Cotter's book contains 39 short stories, 27 written by the author. Each include at least a couple of photos to satisfy your visual appetite during the 256-page journey. Brief, one-chapter stories are perfect for magazine-length reading time that I prefer and my wife loathes. Cotter includes barn-finding tips in "The Corvette in the Barn," guaranteeing the search for all manner of 'barn finds' will continue for years to come. Finding a lottery ticket on wheels is just enough motivation for starry-eyed readers to start cruising the back roads for their own barn find.

Bottom line
The book is entertaining and does ignite the fire of barn-finding possibilities. There is one nagging flaw which could be rectified in future books. I would like to see more Corvettes or domestic makes stories in a book with Corvette in the title. Stories about Porsches, Alfa Romeos, MGs, Ferraris, Aston Martins, a Victress S1A Special, Lancias? Those stories are fun to read but I've never driven one and feel a bit of a disconnect when reading about them. Needless to say, I would not have picked up "The MG in the Barn."

Cotter's other books include "The Cobra in the Barn," "The Hemi in the Barn" and "The Vincent in the Barn." Something tells me more "In the Barn" books will follow.

Eco-friendly note: You may not find a barn relic but Cotter's books may save you some barn-finding gas while you read. 
Disclosure: A review copy of "The Corvette in the Barn" was provided to junkyardlife.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cars in Yards: Brown 1979 Pontiac Trans Am hardtop with WS6 option

A straight 1979 WS6 Trans Am? At least they mowed the grass around it from time to time. 
  Second generation Trans Ams are gaining in popularity. Take this brown 1979 Trans Am for example. It is b-r-o-w-n and cool, really. I wish I could notify the original owner of this once beautiful 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. They probably thought selling the car was the right thing to do at the time. Could they imagine that their beautiful Heritage Brown WS6 would end up grazing in a field in South Georgia? My friend Anthony and I (Ron) found this honey bird on the way home from a swap meet in the peachtree state and made an abrupt stop.
  As I accessed the grounded victim of poor decisions, my mind flashes back to what it must have felt like in late 1978 or 1979 when that lucky person strutted into a Pontiac dealership and fell in love at first sight with this new Trans Am. I love those stories. Did they spot it on the lot? I wonder if they had seen the color combination in a brochure and ordered just that. Perhaps they didn’t want the T-Tops and purposely opted for the hard top. Maybe they wanted the 400 Pontiac motor and an automatic transmission, but found out that was only available with a 4-speed in 1979. Hence, the next best thing – the 403 Oldsmobile engine with an automatic transmission. 

Notice how well the panels and doors seem to be well in line. This would be a nice car.

  This Georgia Honey was moderately optioned with the 403/automatic combo with air conditioning and tilt wheel. It did not have the deluxe lighting package, although it did have deluxe interior. The one option it did have that we Firebird Galoots here at Junkyard Life absolutely love – WS6! Introduced mid-year in 1978 with a thicker sway bar and 15 x 8 wheels. Then Pontiac totally improved the Firebird again in 1979 with the addition of an awesome 4-wheel disc brake set-up! In 1979, the Pontiac Trans Am outbraked the Chevrolet Corvette. If you ask me, checking off the right options in 1979 on your Formula or Trans Am, you could out run the Corvette as well.  The media would never confirm my performance opinion, but did indeed hand over Corvette’s traditional “Best Braking” crown to Trans Am (equipped with WS6) that year.

What color brown?
  Making sure I got my facts correct, I learned that Pontiac's Brentwood Brown, Chesterfield Brown and Heritage Brown were all the same paint code (code 69). Although it seems the 1979 Heritage had more of a “honey glazed” effect than the prior 1978 Chesterfield and the 1977 Brentwood. Whether they changed the recipe from year-to-year or not, a 1979 Heritage Brown Trans Am made for one handsome vehicle and will always get my attention, even in a condition like this.

Pontiac's 15x8 WS6 wheel. Notice the extra “lip” on the outside rim. This is a quick way to tell the difference between 15x7 Snowflake rime that did not come on the WS6 cars.
Also, notice the original lug nuts and late 80’s era tires!
Good News/Bad News
The good news is this T/A could totally be saved and has a lot of great parts and options. The hard top may have slowed the detrimental effects of time and the dreaded cancer that moisture creates. The Bird also seemed pretty straight and was in sight of a highway. The bad news is I know it has been there for two years in almost plain sight. So, I imagine other Firebird enthusiast have tried to find the owner and let the automotive rehab begin. Lets hope it's not one of those “I will let the car rot to the ground before I sell” situations. We can always hope it will fall into right hands (maybe ours) and be back on the road! Happy Hunting!

Ron - The Earth Roaming Car Guy

Send your photos, tips and stories to junkyardlife

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cars in Yards: 1973 Pontiac GTO for sale, seller's phone number lost

This 1973 Pontiac GTO was discovered languishing in North Carolina. As luck would have it, the owner wanted to get it out of his yard.
Elusive 1973 Pontiac GTO is buried in a cell phone. I met a guy in North Carolina this summer who really wanted to sell a 1973 GTO,” Ron Kidd, my pal and car buff extroidinaire, said calmly. "It has been parked in his yard for a long time."
  A black, 4-speed, 'Colonnade' body style, GTO with dog dish hubcaps immediately popped into my head, as I listened to Ron describe his yard find. A mental movie featuring the 'Car I Want to Buy at the Moment,' played on a continuous loop. I hammered through the gears in my mind as Ron poured out more details.  
  Ron said, "I snapped a few photos and I've got the owner's telephone number stored in my phone. The dude called me ten times." Ron's Goat find got my attention, despite the fact that '73 GTOs have been treated like an overweight cousin by much of the muscle car community. My enthusiasm was soon tempered by a dose of A-body reality. I've never seen a cheap GTO that wasn't a basket case. Could this be the "GreaT One?"  
This 1973 GTO is a Sports Coupe which featured louvers on the rear quarter windows. Pontiac also built GTOs without the louvers, known simply as GTO coupes.
Park a car under a tree long enough and you get busted glass. A tree planted a limb inside the windshield of this '73 Pontiac GTO. Aargh!

Parked Pontiac pulls me in
Even with a busted windshield and other ailments of neglect, Ron got me fired-up for this 1973 GTO. Obviously, the engine needs attentions. Possibly the transmission, springs, shocks, brakes etc. But with a little sweat equity, I could make this Pontiac a presentable investment, or so I thought. 

"GTO Phone Home," I need the digits
Ron dug into his phone records for the calls from Carolina, but has yet to find the phone number of this GTO's, eager-to-sell, owner. As thoughts of burn outs and high speed, highway blasts in a '73 GTO begin to fade, I've got to ask for help. Does anybody know this GTO owner's phone number? If you do, send it to 

GTO photos brought to you courtesy of Ron Kidd, the owner of that snazzy 1972 Olds Vista Cruiser, top right. I hope he closed the GTO's trunk before he left.

Pursue your dream cars
Old cars are an addiction to some people, including myself. I enjoy finding, wrenching and driving cars that grab my attention, such as this mid-70s iron. The quest for cars is half the fun. Choose wisely, you may find your dream car.

This one-year only 1973 Pontiac GTO colonnade body style is one of 4,806 built. 
Send your photos, tips and stories to junkyardlife