Hangar Find: 1940 Piper J3 Cub

We don’t just have barn finds on Barn Finds, sometimes a hangar counts as a barn. Piper Aircraft has a complicated history, changing ownership more than a few times since its founding in 1927. In the 1930s, after it filed for bankruptcy under the original name Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation, the company introduced the Piper Cub aircraft under its new namesake William Piper. Its simple design, low cost, ease of use, and high production numbers drew comparisons to the contemporary Henry Ford and his Model T. You can find this 1940 Piper J3 Cub here on eBay, being sold by a loving owner who wants it to go to an equally loving home.

The J3 Cub wasn’t the first iteration of the Cub nameplate, but it was the most popular, producing nearly 20,000 examples over its nine-year production run. Introduced on the cusp of WWII, Piper pivoted production from mostly civilian aircraft to mostly military aircraft, producing the J3 Cub as the L-4 Grasshopper. The J3 Cub had a design well-suited to a variety of uses, mostly due to its small size, lightweight, low cost, and simple operation. Cubs were powered by a variety of engines, though the most common arrangement was an air-cooled flat-four design. This example is powered by one of those engines, with a modified Continental C75 engine fitted, and a spare Continental C85, both having recently undergone complete overhauls.

The airframe is straight and clean, with just 3,451 hours logged. The C75 has 422 hours since its overhaul, and the C85 has 99.6 hours. This is basically a brand new 81-year-old airplane, and it looks the part. The Cub Yellow paint is clean and shows no blemishes. Most of the images provided by the seller are of the exterior. Inside, you’ll find a two-seat layout in tandem, with simple gauges and controls. No word on what condition the inside is in, but based on how well the seller cares for it, it’s bound to be at worst totally functional, and at best museum-quality. The seller is more than willing to arrange flight delivery to wherever you live, leading me to believe it’s perfectly airworthy and turn-key ready. Do planes even have keys? I doubt it.

One of the things I love about writing for Barn Finds is the opportunity to learn new things. I’m not as knowledgeable about winged vehicles as I would like to be, and this gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge base. I do know that the Piper Cub is a wildly popular trainer aircraft, so if you’re as new to flying as I am, this might be an interesting first plane. Whether or not the seller agrees with that remains to be seen, but I do know I would love to fly it.


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  1. Cobra Steve

    What a coincidence I should happen to stumble across this on BF. I have been finding myself watching YouTube videos of Cubs lately…a very dangerous precursor of what is to be?

    First plane I ever flew was a ’46 Cub and many fond memories! Low and slow…. Best way I can help “car folks” relate is the adage, “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.” Call me strange but I love ALL cars from the Model T to the Shelby-AC Cobra–depending upon my mood that day.

    Like 9
    • MFerrell

      I’ve ridden in a few small planes. I imagine an “low & slow” plane like this, the feeling of riding the air like a kite is very present.

      Like 5
  2. Steve Clinton

    You would NOT get me up in the air in an 81-year-old plane, no matter WHAT its condition!

    Like 3
    • Charles Lambour

      You’re the kind of person that is afraid to go up in a small aircraft. Period

      Like 6
    • MikeB

      I agree, no way I’m even going sit inside that thing !!

      Like 1
      • Robert Thomas

        You should try flying in one like I did in the vectors of Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports. Never a dull moment.

        Like 4
      • Maze

        @Robert Thomas
        I can relate. I did touch and goes at Detroit Metro’s big runway one night in a Cessna 152. Tower called “Traffic is a 747 heavy on a 10 mile final. Make it quick boys!”
        Great fun.

        Like 3
  3. James Schwartz

    One of my all-time favorite airplanes. I built many models of them as a kid.
    This same basic design and even color scheme was produced into the 90’s with the Piper Super Cub.

    Like 5
  4. Jim Vanderkolk

    Soloed in 3609K in Tucson. Fine plane.

  5. Robert Thomas

    My dad had a newer one, it’s a fabric plane so it needs to be hangered. He learned to fly in one in the Army Air Corps and he always held a special place in his heart for Cubs. Flew in it quite a few times, out of Teterboro airport.

    Like 7
    • Warren Bradshaw

      Same experience here. Dad had one for years under a pole-barn roof at the south edge of our long alfalfa field that he used for a landing strip, after learning to fly in the Air Corps during the war. I’m sure it was all he could afford as a young farmer after the war, but he did love to fly, and kept it up for the next 30 years. Good memories.

      Like 4
  6. Karl

    That’s a beautiful little Cub! The 75 HP Continental is a very good engine if maintained properly and used correctly will easily hit its 2000 he TBO. Very trouble free plane but because of it fabric covering it needs to be kept in a hanger when not in use. The fact it also comes with another 85 HP Continental is even more good news that’s worth a darned fair bit of change also. One of the great things about this plane is it short field capabilities and the fact that floats, skis or wheels it can do it all. Beautiful airplane I would fly it in a second!

    Like 11
  7. John Member

    An Aunt back when I was 10-11 had a Taylor, gave me a ride, then later wanted to take flying lessons….kids and marriage got in the way

    Like 1
  8. DAVE G

    2 days remaining and highest of 19 bidders is $37,100.

    Like 2
  9. Cncbny

    Wow! Split window like a vette, and 11 window like a vw micro bus! Even 75 horsepower like an early Porsche 911! Get a set of white walls, and cruise in classic style!

    Like 1
  10. Joe Haska

    Barn Finds for me has been a trip down memory lane. My first airplane ride was in a yellow J-3, just like this one. I was about 12 years old a,rom that day on, I wanted to be a Pilot. I did get my commercial licence and full filled that dream. I never made a living flying , but that’s OK, I got to do it. I will be 78 in a couple of days and if there was any way in hell, I could buy this airplane and fly it, I would!

    Like 2
  11. steve

    Properly maintained, which, by law they have to be, it is as safe (or unsafe) as it ever was. I was performing flight test work for the FAA and the official was giving the equipment the evil eye. He wanted to know if I thought something built in 1972 was good enough to be doing this testing. I said “This aircraft was built in 1967 and you expect me to fly on it..right?” He sobered right up after that. Yes, an airliner that had been pulled out of passenger service for the weekend and was going right back there on Monday morning. You might be surprised about the age of the “sleek new jet” you’re flying on. Many of them have the build plate on the right hand side of the front cabin door. Take a look at the date next time you’re flying the friendly skies!

    Like 3
  12. Paul

    First plane I ever flew in back in 1962. My Dad’s friend had one and landed in the corn field next to our house. Lots of fun flying around low and slow over the farms in southern Ontario. Good memories.

    Like 2
  13. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Pell City, Alabama

    Like 1
  14. Steve P

    Age of the plane for me is not a factor, airworthiness is what matters. I’ve flown a 1943 N3N biplane that was in excellent airworthy condition, and I’ve had customers bring me 1980’s vintage planes that were basket cases. It’s all about maintenance. Am curious what what was done legally to the C75 to boost its performance. These are excellent inexpensive planes to fly and maintain.

    Like 3
  15. Steve

    Famous quote:
    The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.

    Like 5
    • Robert Thomas

      stall speed is so slow… easiest landings

      Like 1
  16. Bob Roller

    I was involved in the restoration of one of these J 3’s and I still have fond memories of flying at 40MPH with the door locked up and open.

    Like 1
  17. Oregon man

    My dad had a 57 Bonanza we flew all over the place he also had a beach 18. A 2947 model. I soloed in a 152 but the plane that provided the most exhilarating feeling of flight was my time in a piper cub

    • Robert Thomas

      Kind of like my dad: Had a Bonanza but the Cub was so special to him, so basic and much like the one he flew initially in the Army Air Corps.

  18. Karl

    Oregon man I couldn’t agree more! The last time I flew a J3 it on floats and I was finishing up my IFR rating in my Mooney and after a month of sitting in the cockpit of the Mooney working my butt off, flying that J3 for a weekend was like a total reminder of why I started flying in the first place, it felt Wonderful!!!!

  19. t-bone BOB

    This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available.

    May 25, 2021
    Starting bid:
    US $15,000.00
    [ 0 bids ]

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