A ‘friend find’: Reader finds his friend has been hiding a stash of old originals
By Thomas Minor and Jenny Minor Johnson
Editor’s Note: OCW reader Tom Minor and his daughter, Jenny, submitted the following story about Jerry Minor, Tom’s brother.
Car people love good stories about “barn finds,” “field cars” and any other hidden automotive treasure. It seems that everyone has a story to tell about something they or a friend have found. On rare occasions, the stories are true — just ask Jerry Minor, a life-long vintage automobile enthusiast, collector and dealer from Elk River, Minn. For Minor’s story, I’ll add a new type of find — the “friend find.” As Minor proved, it’s not always possible to know what treasures friends have tucked away.
Minor received a call from a long-time friend who has had many interesting cars over the years and still had some tucked away. He told Minor that it was time to part with many of his cars, some of which he had owned for long periods of time. The friend wanted to give Minor the opportunity to buy several of them. These cars weren’t “barn finds,” but rather “friend finds” that represented an interesting snapshot of automotive history. None of the seven cars had seen the light of day in years, but all were in very good condition. Although they were not in current operating condition, the vehicles had been well stored.
After Minor laid eyes on the cars, a deal was made and Minor acquired what likely will be the most exciting deal of his automotive life. A day was set aside for gathering the new treasures and a local tow company was enlisted to carefully remove the cars from their resting spots.
Old and newer school hot rods
First in the group was a 1929 Ford Model A Sport Coupe. The seller had owned this car since high school and had built it according to the customizing trends of the day. Today, it would be considered an “old school” hot rod. The seats were upholstered with a “tuck ’n’ roll” job, the interior moldings were chrome-plated, it sported “big and littles” (larger tires at the rear and smaller tires at the front) and a white canvas top formed the roof. The Model A also had a dropped front axle and the addition of hydraulic brakes, but it retained the original four-cylinder Ford engine, because the builder’s the dad didn’t want his son to install a big flathead.
The collection included a second hot rod, this example a slightly more modern ’32 Ford roadster that was built years ago using a fiberglass body on a ’32 chassis with a full top, leather interior and a SCoT blower added atop a 59AB flathead. Underneath, the car sported a Winters quick change rear end and a chrome front suspension to make one phenomenal ride.
General Motors products were represented by a 1937 Pontiac rumble seat convertible that had been restored in the 1960s with quality original parts.
The collection also included a couple Packards, including a subdued and elegant 1939 Packard Super Eight sedan with dual sidemounts. This car is equipped with overdrive, a rear luggage rack, gorgeous original upholstery and other than the fenders, the original paint. It has but 50,000 miles, and they appear to have been easy miles.
The second Packard has just 1,572 miles. The eight-cylinder 1950 model has all four of its original tires, its spare has never touched the ground, it wears its original license plates and the jack remains in the original cardboard box in the trunk. Reportedly, three sisters owned the Packard and when the driver passed away after the car was purchased, it was parked and never used again.
Low-mile MoPars for good measure
The 1959 Plymouth Fury two-door hardtop is even more pristine than the Packards. It shows just 396 turns of its odometer. Yes, 396 miles — about the distance between Sacramento, Calif., and Los Angeles. Surely, this 1959 Plymouth must be the lowest-mileage ’59 Plymouth in existence. Not surprisingly, the car is in new condition and features swivel seats, the original upholstery and the rare optional gas heater.
The Plymouth’s original owner purchased the car, stuck it away and simply looked at it. Unfortunately, he once sat a box of soap on the hood and didn’t remove it for many years. The roof of the garage leaked, the soap liquified and what was probably lye leached out of the soap and ate a hole through the hood. When the second owner acquired the car, a replacement hood was located and the entire car was refinished in the original color.
Sporting a few more miles but more horsepower in this “friend find” is a bright yellow 1970 AAR ’Cuda. It still sports the factory four-speed and 6-pack carburetion on top of a replacement 340-cid V-8, the result of too many 1/4-mile runs, and not to the grocery store. The 33,000-mile car remains original and still wears its factory-applied paint and original window sticker with a beautiful perfect original interior.
The fate of the find
When asked which of all these cars is his new favorite, Minor said, “You know me, they all are!” However, Minor will be keeping just one of them — the 1939 Packard — and offering the rest during the Mecum Auction at Kissimmee, Fla., in January 2012.
“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have been able to acquire so many wonderful old cars, and I hope to find deserving homes for each of them,” Minor said.
To learn more about Mecum’s Kissimmee Auction Jan. 24-29, 2012, click here.
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