Hawkeye’s Barn Full Of Treasures

hawkeye-collection

We often talk about the eccentric collectors out there that horde cars, never selling, only ever buying. There are a lot of mixed feelings about these individuals, but I for one am grateful for them. Without them we wouldn’t have collections like this! John “Hawkeye” Hawkinson, the owner of these cars, was a bit eccentric but he was dedicated to preserving history as best he could. Sadly, he passed away this past July at the age of 83, leaving behind his home and several barns filled with 43 antique vehicles.

1930-minerva-am

One of those vehicles caught the attention of Wayne Carini, who happened to know Hawkeye when he was a kid. Wayne’s father worked for the Packard Motor Car Company where he met and befriended Hawkeye. The car in question is a 1930 Minerva Type AM with a Hibbard and Darrin body. These Belgian built luxury cars are quite impressive and are worth serious money. When Wayne found out about the car and that it was for sale, he had to have it. So he arranged for a visit to Hawkeye’s estate to film an episode about the car and the man behind the collection, which you will be able to watch in a future episode of Chasing Classic Cars on Velocity Channel.

The story of how John came to own the Minerva might be as incredible as the car itself is! He purchased the car from a guy in Connecticut, but he couldn’t afford to buy it all at once, so he started making payments. He made the first payment in 1959, each time he made another payment he brought home another piece of the car. He did that until every last piece of it was safely in his barn, which happened to be in ’74. Talk about perseverance!

prewar-survivor

While the Minerva is amazing, it wasn’t the only amazing machine that John managed to acquire. He owned several fire engines, tractors, Packards, Buicks, Cadillacs and even a Pierce Arrow or two. I would love to have any of his vehicles, but I wouldn’t mind having one of his Packards or the Minerva. I’m not sure I would put on a fur coat and drive around with the top down in the dead of winter on a frozen lake like he did, but I’m game for trying something at least once!

hawkeye-barn-find

Things might look a bit dilapidated, but from what Hawkeye’s close friends have stated, his goal was to simply keep these vehicles safe until interest in them increased. He clearly knew one day he would leave this world and the cars would go to new homes, so he left a box of photos, letters and a note in the Minerva to the next owner so that they could find out more about who he was.

opening-one-of-the-barns

I can only imagine how incredible it must have felt to pull open the barn doors and see these cars everyday. If you haven’t ever had the chance to see a prewar luxury car in person, I’d highly recommend it. Compared to today’s cars, they are behemoths that will leave you in awe. As Wayne put it, “You open the door of a barn like that, and you look at it, and, ‘Oh, my God. It’s unbelievable’”. It really is unbelievable!

They weren’t kept in the best of condition or protected as well as they could have been, but there’s no denying that Hawkeye managed to save these cars for future generations to enjoy! If you’d like to read more about John or his collection, you can read more here at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. And if you ever happen to come across a find like this, we sure would love to hear about it!

Photos and Video courtesy of Josh Clement Productions

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Comments

  1. Joe Muzy

    RIP Hawkeye. I hope the next owners of your cars will love them as much you did. Thank you for saving the cars and the treasure trove of NOS parts.

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 43 Thumb down 1
  2. Van

    Wow

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0
  3. Paul Bellefeuille

    Impressive to say the least! Great to see all of those cars under one roof in what appears to have been dry storage. Nice video too. RIP Hawkeye.

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0
  4. PackardMike

    Special post. We are “car crazy” NOT just crazy! Thanks Hawkeye. RIP brother.

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0
  5. healeydays

    Great story in the local newspaper. Great collection squirreled away. I wish I could come across one of those some day.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  6. chris lawrence

    As a grown ass man, this is the only thing that really brings a tear to my eye.

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0
    • Rich

      Yup. May have got a little something in my eye watching that. You know he loved those cars.

      *Highly-rated. Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  7. Dan

    Some day someone will make a similar movie about my 8 track tape and players collection after I croak. Hopefully the music will be somewhat more upbeat.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4
  8. Tenspeed

    Great video and collection of cars. He at least kept them in the dry (unfortunately it appears to be on dirt floors) and dark so they wouldn’t deteriorate as bad as some of the collections we have seen here on Barn Finds.

    I wish they had used either a better low light camera or better lighting for the video. You really couldn’t see much detail because it was so dark.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • K.C.

      I think the low light adds to the mystery and excitement and wonder of opening up a barn and seeing the entombed cars for the first time. It sets the stage for the ah-ha moments that come as you start to dig into what actually has been preserved by someone over time. They’ll be time to enjoy the cars in the sunlight later, but the first few moments in the dark are likely not to be repeated and are to be savored. How awesome that they sought to preserve the barn scene, and it wasn’t a video of them all on the lawn in daylight.

      *Highly-rated. Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
  9. Jay

    Coolest video ever. Would love to see everything in person.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  10. joeinthousandoaks

    That’s a great video. How cool is that Lake Placid Fire truck? RIP Hawkeye. This makes me wish the estate could be purchased and preserved as is to be kept for future generations.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
  11. nessy

    Outstanding but sad story. This guy was alot like AK Miller the Stutz King. He lived the same way, no gas or electric, just a fireplace. He bought two day old bread and dented cans of food. He drove at the time a 20 year old VW Bug, never held a job or paid taxes. Those who knew of him thought he was poor. In the end, his Estate held dozens of early Stutz and Rolls Royce motorcars locked away in sheds behind his house worth many millions. It’s great that people like this have held onto so many special cars that otherwise, would have been scrapped 60 to 70 years ago as just unwanted used cars. However, at the same time, it’s hard to understand how any person can be so cheap as to live without heat and running water when they have millions in assets. Sometimes, people who live alone, start collecting items, cars, clothing, or just basic junk to try and make up, at least in their minds, for the missing human connections that everyone needs. It’s another sad end to a life of hardship and no collection in the world is worth giving up the human connection. I would have loved just to meet this guy and take him out to a nice dinner and listen to his life story. That’s what people like this really need, just good friends who want nothing in return except friendship. I’ll bet he always thought people who came into his life were just around to get at his cars.

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0
  12. 68firebird

    Amazing! I’m wondering why oh why would the first comment get a thumbs down??? Really? Jeez.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • Axel Ringhandt

      I guess it’s because one missed the thumbs up button, while clickiing too early with his mouse. Happened to me. Can’t erase it later …

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  13. Joe

    Well put Nessy …
    They did it their way and I am sure they were happy in their own way .

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  14. G 1

    It would take all day just checking mouse traps.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  15. Steve H

    Unbelievable story! Awesome video and enchanting music. I looked up that theme song, Whispers on the Wind on iTunes, purchasing the whole album as we speak.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • Charles C

      Hi Steve. Can you tell us a little more about this music? Is Whispers on the Wind the name of the Song or the the Album? What’s the name of the Group or Artist?
      Thanks!

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  16. Bob

    Wow! What a heartfelt video! RIP Hawkeye,wish I could have known you and explored your cars with you and listen to your stories:)

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  17. Rallyace

    I first heard about this collection about 30 years ago. I considered it to be just a myth. Then, in the late 90’s, I learned a lot more about it from a friend in Lake Placid, NY. First, that it really existed and second, that Hawkeye had no intentions of selling anything as long as he lived. I never heard anything more until about two weeks ago when I heard that the collection had been sold off. I would not have been able to afford any of the cars but I sure would have liked to at least looked at them once before they were all gone.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  18. Bob

    Me too Rallyace ! It’s sad we can’t stop and chat with him and listen to his stories about his love for those cars. I just picked up a great 1960 MGA from a older guy I meant at a parts swap. Long story,but he had a love for cars and had a few,but his wife was very sick and he needed to start selling them off when he told me about the MGA. I took a ride 4 hrs to see the car and I purchased it. Wow,great guy ( worked for Delco as a engineer) loved listening to his stories about restoring it and others. He then ask if I wanted to go for a ride and see his friends cars and tractors! It was like my own private car show and tractor show! 3 Family farm tractors ! He restored them to brand new along with a beautiful 125 – 150k Jag and a MG TD and TF a 57 chevy, Austin Healy, MGA a couple Camero Pace cars and the best was his shop!! He was a engineer also at the plant! He was rebuilding transmissions and gear boxes and engines in his shop( along with restoring a Austin Healy 100:) That was all,in a big barn out in a field! It was so cool be be invited to see his collection and he was so happy I took the time to talk and listen to him . That day I will mark as one of the best days of my life 🙂

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  19. Anthony

    I absolutely Looove people like this – the hell with what others think.

    Until you walk in another person’s shoes from day one…don’t criticize.

    Rest in peace buddy….

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
  20. Fast Eddie/Old Eddie: take your pick!

    For those who want a direct link to the Youtube full screen view:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNkHbitatZE

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  21. Bruce Best

    There are many reasons we love old cars, but the most important is the memories they hold for the owner. Things that only they will know about. The rides with a grandfather or grandmother, The first date, there can be millions of reasons. I hope that these memory touch stones that are now being passed on gave him a measure of joy in his life.

    I hope that the same is done by those that purchase them and many of the other things in life. I hope that others understand how deeply the shape that brought joy in youth can bring back both youth and joy many many years into the future. My first sports car was a MGA 1600 MKII and I can never see one or hear one in person and not have flashbacks and a Mona Lisa smile on my face that nobody else is allowed to understand.

    To all those out there that get those memories of parents, brothers, sisters or friends living or gone please enjoy and forgive those without the gift of joyous memories. You can tell them what it is like to purchase a TR-3 with wire wheels installed backwards but you cannot tell them what it is like to be driving and have the front wheel suddenly fall off get trapped by the fender and suddenly pull the fender and door away as it jumps over your shoulder just before you spin off the road.

    How do you tell someone about a perfect lake side road in the fall in a Giulietta Alfa going thru tight curves, up and down and look into the mirror and see a new 246 Dino right behind you. The sound it makes when he passes you on the only stretch of road he can. How do you describe the feeling when the car and driver is waiting for you at the end of the road that has gone thru a park. An older man that was as happy to see my old Alfa as I was to see his new Dino. How a love of find machinery and life resulted in a friendship of almost 30 years until he passed.

    To all of you, forgive those that only see money, and gain. They are a necessary evil and they have their place, but pass on the memories to children, friends, lovers and partners in life. Tell them the stories and add another color to their lives. These things are just transportation to some but to almost all there are memories attached, that can enrich not only your life but theirs as well.

    *Highly-rated. Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  22. Cargirl

    I have a find. 15 cars stuffed into three small garages in Upstate New York. Total value maybe $500,000 tops. It’s not always a walk in the park working with some of these older collectors. All of the cars need to be sorted. Alot of the original documentation could be missing. Most likely is missing.
    But Bruce best said it best. These cars are not just transportation. They were collected not just out of passion but because of the memories that they evoked in the owner. And it is very hard to know that it is the last time you will see it as it gets loaded on to the truck bound for the next owner. I can see why some of them wait until after they die to part with them.
    Also I’ll let you guys know about all of the cars as soon as I get more pictures.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0
  23. Bill McCoskey

    Back in August of 1972 I was driving my 1955 Packard 400 hardtop in what was then the Baltimore waterfront warehouse area, a grimy and desolate inner city with crumbling former manufacturing buildings. I was lost, and while driving down a narrow alley, I saw an open garage door & someone standing just inside the door, so I stopped to ask for directions. When I walked in I saw 2 older black guys working on a 1953 Packard Patrician. At the same time they looked up and spotted my Packard outside.

    We had an instant shared interest in Packards, and they explained the cars [yes, cars] were all owned by Dr Benny Jones, and they would come and work on them from time to time.

    There was no electricity in the warehouse, and all the windows had been blocked up, resulting in a cavern like situation. As my eyes began to adjust to the lower light level, I started to see Packards, dozens and dozens of them, packed in so tight one had to walk across the cars to access the ones in the rear ranks. The dust was so thick on the cars you could see the footprint left by others who had wandered over & among the cars. This building was about 20,000 square feet, and I was told it was one of several in the area. They told me there were over 250 Packard in total.

    Dr Jones only collected Packards, the earliest was 1932, the newest 1956. He bought most of them in the 1960s and was still buying a few when they came up for sale. This was at a time when one could buy a running post war Packard for as little as $100, and a late pre-war Packard six or 120 for $500 & drive it home.

    The guys were getting ready to take the Patrician back to the building, and offered to show me more cars, so I hopped into the back seat of this large sedan. It was beautiful inside, and one of the guys pointed out the mileage: it was under 7,000 actual miles. When we got to the other building, it was much smaller than the first warehouse, only holding about 20 or so cars. Attached to the back of this building was another lean-to type shed entered thru a small door in the adjoining back wall, it held 6 cars. The garage doors had been removed long before, and the openings sealed with cinder blocks & mortar.

    The 6 cars inside: All 1955 & 1956 Packard Caribbean convertibles. [500 produced in 1955, 276 in 1956] All were covered in dust, tires flat, and hoods dented in from people walking on them, all 6 were complete except for radiators. They had been stolen, hence the reason the garage door areas were blocked up. 2 of the cars had factory A/C too!

    I was able to get one of the guy’s phone number, and I did return with my best friend who was also a Packard collector like myself, and this time we brought powerful flashlites, so we could go exploring. I had brought a camera, but sadly the flash wasn’t working, so when I developed the film, it was damn near impossible to see the cars. To this day I regret not getting photos of this amazing collection.

    3 weeks later, 7 September 1972, I reported to Ft Holabird in Baltimore for induction into the Army. When I managed to get back to that exact area, everything was gone, not just the cars, but the buildings, for blocks all around it was nothing but rubble as the inner harbor urban renewal was underway. I called one of the guys and asked him what happened, he explained that Dr Jones had died, and the collection was to be sold off. But he also added that many of the cars were scrapped, as they couldn’t get them out to other locations fast enough. The building with the Caribbeans was demolished with the cars still inside.

    I was transferred to Europe shortly after that, and one day in about 1974 or 75, my dad sent me a letter enclosing an article from the Baltimore Sun, about the big auction of Dr. Jones’ Packard collection. As I recall it was about 150 cars! But no Caribbeans.

    When I returned in September of 1975, I called the guy once again, but the number was disconnected. so ends the story about what was probably the largest Packard collection in the world. And yes, it’s a real story, ask any mid-Atlantic Packard collector who was around in the mid 1970’s and they will tell you it happened!

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  24. Cargirl

    Oh my Lord Bill what a story. Holy Cow. To find them and then to see them meet that fate. That’s the stuff dreams and nightmares are made of.

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  25. Bob

    Great story! Sad about the demo of the building and smashing the cars with it ! That’s a worker just “doing my job” Doesn’t have a respect or values in them ! Brings back a story I was told about a guy telling his friend that he is afraid that when he dies his wife and family will sell his cars and parts for what he told them he paid for them. His friend told him that’s why they have auctions, they want the money and would take 1/2 anyway! I respect the car,parts and the owner and believe it’s worth what it’s worth or don’t buy it ! This is my barn find from a great guy for a reasonable price ” win-win”

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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