Book Review: Barn Find Road Trip

Some of the best books are adventures. When the adventure combines the sort of thing that the reader personally wishes to be able to do, all the better. For car nuts and history buffs, few things are as cool as finding old cars hidden away on the back roads of America. That is exactly what this book is about. It’s a combination of adventure, discovery, hands-on history, and great people all in one large book.

9780760349403Don’t be fooled into thinking that Barn Find Road Trip is just another photography-filled coffee table flip-through, though. It’s got lots of great photography, but it’s also filled with a rich narrative describing the people and places these guys see on their run.

Tom Cotter, the author of the book, details the trio’s drive through their fourteen-day adventure. The plan is to hit three states over fourteen days and find as many old “barn find” style cars as they can. They count only cars made over 30 years ago, with some rare exceptions, and count them only if they are in “barn find” (i.e. “needs work”) condition. In all, over their two week trip, they find over 1,000 cars lying along the back roads, under trees, hidden in sheds and barns, and even in a run down warehouse. Photography by Michael Alan Ross showcases their discoveries.

The three also find a lot of fun people, great places, interesting villages, and oddball characters. Using the author’s wood-sided 1939 Ford with the third guy in their group, car collector Brian Barr, following in a loaned Ford Flex as an equipment hauler.

It’s a beautiful chronicle of real-world collectible hunting that runs askew of the normal made-for-TV narrative found on most “reality” television shows. As a breath of fresh air, it’s well worth the read. Barn Find Road Trip hit bookstore shelves last month and is available at many retailers, including Quartoknows.

CarNewsCafe appreciates publisher Motorbooks for sending us a review copy of this excellent book. And be sure to look up Tom and the boys on their Facebook page.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at