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How To Become A Better Barn Finder

WTM's sightings

We recently heard from BF reader WoodToyMaker and wanted to share his advice. In his email, he gave a few tips about finding the right classic, whether it be an AMC, a Studebaker, or really anything else. While we all have our own style when it comes to car hunting, it’s always great to hear from a fellow hunter about their strategy and it might even give you a few ideas of ways to improve your own tactics!

WTM's sightings 2

There are still a lot of vehicles around, but you really have to be a real Classic Car Hunter to find what you are looking for. I always pick a Rainy day to go out to find what I’m searching for. That is when all the Looky-Loos are sitting inside out of the rain. I set my mind towards one kind of car or wagon and that is all I look for. I am looking where people have said all the Classics have been removed years ago. For example, one day I set out to find nothing but Studebakers and I found over twenty in less than three hours! It is like Mushroom or Rabbit hunting, you have to set your brain for what you are searching for and go just for them. If I am going out to find old trucks of a certain era, I do not let all the other cars cloud my mind.

WTM's sightings 3

Another example is when I decided I wanted a 1949 – 1951 Studebaker to make a driver out of. I lived in Concord, Ca. and I told my wife I wanted an old Studebaker to rebuild. I had just sold my 1996 Peterbuilt Truck and Trailer and did not want to reinvest it into anything but a Studebaker. I had owned several as a young man and loved them. I went out for a drive and within two hours found four. I looked at all four and they were priced way higher than I was interested in paying. So I made offers on all of them.  Two of the people just knew they had gold and wouldn’t take anything less. I made an offer from their price of $1,000.00 to my offer of $200.00 as is. They floundered and said no way. I left my card and their home behind me.

1950 Studebaker

The very next day they called me and asked me to come and talk. I made an appointment and went the next day. I bought the car that was licensed and insured, none of the others were. I bought the car, pushed it out on the street and called AAA, because we both had AAA Insurance, and had them pick it up and deliver it free to my home. That was in 1999, I drove the car for three years as it was, smoking and a rod knocking. I decided to rebuild the whole car in 2004. I finished it in 2006 and had a car that was almost like new. I had everything on the car removed and rebuilt from scratch and still enjoy driving it today.

WTM's sightings 4

We want to thank WoodToyMaker for sharing with us. It certainly gave us a few ideas of how we can be better Barn Finders! If you have any tips or ideas you would like to share on how we can all be better classic car hunters, please feel free to share! Oh and WoodToyMaker sent us a few of his sightings, but didn’t tell us what all he found, so can you identify them?


  1. Raymond F. Pittam

    Thank You for choosing my Post. I love reading your stories and have probably a million of my own. LOL I love the History and the nostalgia of the Old vehicles that has carried America from Coast to Coast and Boarder to Boarder. I have been playing with Old cars most of my life. Many times when I was a young man I would buy my cars from Auto Salvage companies and make them run again and that would be my driver. Back in those days $25.00 for an old Model A Ford or $50.00 for a 37 Chevrolet was a lot of money. Many people today do not realize even in the 1960’s many jobs did not pay but $00.50 or $00.65 cents per hour and you had to live on that and support a family. And you were lucky if you could keep a job. Can you see a man out of the army today with a family of two children working as a delivery boy for a Drug Store and delivering papers for all of $85.00 a week and paying $25.00 to $35.00 for a place to live plus all other bills? Or cleaning Cow barns and pig Lots for $5.00 a day . Well that is what it was like in North West Missouri. I even used to ride a bike 12 miles each way to Wathenia, Kansas and worked sometimes ten hours a day and rode back after a days work on two Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich’s on Old Oven Joy $00.10 white Safeway bread and the peanut Butter was not what you know as Peanut Butter today. It stuck to your mouth all day. I guess this is why, we older people enjoy our car’s much more than spoiled kids of the Baby boomer’s do today. And these young whipper snappers who have no idea how to do anything today without a computer . There will never be true Classic car and hot Rodders ever again when we are all dead. My main Driver today is a 1901 Oldsmobile Wood curved Dash, and I have souped it up and now instead of 6 – 12 M. P. H. It gets that going up Mountains. It will run down the road at a Rocket Speed of 19-25 M. P. H. and yes, I drive it on the California highways. It will be in North west Missouri in June traveling the highways around St. Joseph and Possibly Kansas City. You ask, will I frive it in Traffic? It is legally licensed as a street legal car and yes I will go on any street and / or state highway. So, wave a full hand at me if you pass me and Please do not run over me taking my photos. I will stop for Photos and a Donation to. http://www.GoldStarWall.org, there in Kansas City Kansas.

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    • Ryan

      Thanks for the stor(y/ies), Ray.
      I agree completely with everything you have to say. Although I am only a teenager, I know what you’re saying with kids and technology. Cars are incredible; they are like time machines. Now, all I refer to them as are ‘computers on wheels’.

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    • z1rider

      Hi Raymond. I live in N.W Missouri between KC and St. Joe (drove through Wathena yesterday). Would love to see your Olds. Is there a secure way to contact you?

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  2. Auld Bobby Friendship

    Great story and so interesting.
    Studebakers were always thin on the ground here in the UK but I nearly had one, back in 1966.
    I found one on a breakers yard that had belonged to the father of a school friend. It was a ’54 Champion and was 6 or 7 years old when I first rode in it.
    Back at the ‘yard, someone had removed the wheels and I couldn’t trace them so I gave up on it.
    The car remains, buried, to this day somewhere in that yard.
    There’s something special about those cars.

    Could we see some photos of your car, please?

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    • Raymond F. Pittam

      I have a web site in which is a free site, http:///mtshastaophanclassicsgroup.shutterfly.com, That is the featured Club on http://www.Oldride.com, another great site where we can enjoy sharing our Stories and Photos. We are all Classic and Hot Rod as well as Custom Car lover’s. We are not out to steal reader’s from any site, We want to openly share sites to bring in more and more interestest with people around the world., I am also St Shasta Orphan Classics Group on both facebook.com as well as google.com, am also a member of Studebakerdriversclub.com, If we all work together it is a vessel of learning more and more about different historic cars. When we enter someone else’ s site only they can Ok and allow us to post,. with my sites there is a place like on this one that allows us to post our stories. If you go onto my facebook.com sites, you go on and request to be friends. You can enter several sites just by entering the name with the Raymond F, or Ray F. or Raymond Francis the same as Ray Francis and then entering or adding my last name. I am open to the public. I also have a site NorthernCaliforniaTouring.shutterfly.com or either Google or facebook.com . Any one who abides by their rules can enter free.

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  3. Jim-Bob

    On the cars, I am going to guess that both are Nash Ramblers. One is an early model with the covered wheel arches, and the other is the later model that was put back into production a year or two after the first was discontinued. The later ones are easily identified by the open wheel arches, which was about all that was done to modernize the design when it was…ummm… recontinued? As for the tractor, I am not an expert on them but I will guess it is a Farmall Cub.

    As far as my own way of searching, I used to go out window shopping in the farming areas within 150 miles of my house, but that was before gas got to $4 a gallon. My most recent targeted search took me 2 months, and involved looking at Craigslist 5-10x a day, every day, during that time. I researched a large number of cars and had calculated that a Geo Metro was the most economically efficient vehicle I could buy, but I wanted it at a target price of less than $500 for a rust free example. I jumped the gun on the first one and got an automatic with a burnt valve for $350. However, I continued to look and scored another with a proper manual trans for $250. I drove it home and have been driving it for most of the last 3 years. Oh, and yes, it does save me a lot of money: about $2500 a year in fuel costs alone (versus my 4 cylinder 2wd Nissan truck).

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  4. Raymond F. Pittam


    This is one of my sites I also have another one on Vintage Car Touring Northern California I think if you type this on most search engines you will find me. I have been told by people all over the world I am the easiest person in the world to find. LOL. I love talking and showing Cars. I was a coast To Coast Trucker as well as an Entertainer who traveled all over to make a living. I have met thousands of people. I am not like many, to busy to enjoy meeting anyone, and to proud to keep myself hidden. If I have a vehicle worth showing it is worth driving and sharing with those who want to enjoy them. My cars are there to touch, sit in and enjoy. I do not go to or support those people who thinks their cars are gods or fine pieces of art only to be looked at.through glass or behind barriers. A car is designed to use and drive, If someone scratch’s it I can repair it and have it back on the road in a day or two.

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  5. Jerry

    As a kid, I had a neighbor who was a big collector of high end cars. He once said he’d drive to a remote area and find some kids playing and asked them if anyone had any old cars lying around. Kids know everything!

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  6. Chris A.

    I’ve relocated several times and in the new areas I checked out the newspaper garage sale ads, cars for sale and estate sale listings. I missed a widow selling her late husband’s 1951 Riley 21/2 liter restored saloon by a week. It was surely worth more than the $750 she received. I let it be known in the new communities that I was a classic car guy and I was offred two Packards; ’31 roadster and 37 Super Eight sedan. Both went to auction. Anyone out there looking for a ’29 Pierce Arrow sedan in good driver condition?

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  7. Raymond F. Pittam

    Chris A. and the other’s who like the Public Advertising in your areas I have found that many of those vehicles are never worth what the owner’s feel they have to have. I live in Redding, Ca. where nearly every neighbor has at least two to fifty different types of cars in storage or shops in their back yards.Up till this year I had at least five sitting around all the time. You can never buy a car where there is such a heavy volume of vehicles worth a darn ar a good price. Like I had this lady who had a beautiful Orange 1965 Dodge Dudter two door with low mileage. But when I advertised it for her on my site,. the highest bid was only $875.00. And that was if it would pass all California Smog and other Inspections. If you go onto my site you will see It sold to a man in Ontario, Canada and he bought two vehicles for Thousands of dollars more than California offered. BUT: When you are trying to buy a fixer Upper, Never go to a local Paper. Every buyer in town has already seen it and it is there because it is not a good deal. Always look for vehicles sitting out by the Barn, in the field, and many times drug out into a ditch for catching soil in a wash. I go way out where the Orchars and groves are. Out in the back roads in the Mountains. That is where you can find such vehicles as Rover’s jeeps. Old Army Surplus, and many, many times even Old Aircraft. Farmer’s and hill people when they get tired of a vehicle usulaly drag them off into the field or woods and they sit there for ever. I am now retired. I am no longer searching like when I was younger. But just two years ago October 10, 2012, I was out delivering big water tanks to an area where there had been a forest Fire. I found two Model T Fords I would bet my life I could have had running in two days, and my 1901 Oldsmobile and a covered Wagon the owner of the land had no idea was even on his land. If you like Blackberry pie, Jam, or Cobler, go out and find some big bunch’s of Berry’s growing. Take a Machetty as well as a 5 gallon pail. pick a pail of berries and cut your way towards the center of the bush. You just may be greatly surprised what you will find many times. BUT, there is a chance nothing will be there. BUT it is like going Gold Hunting. You have to work for what you want/ Like freedom and Love, Nothing comes easy.

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