Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  18 / 150 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 18 / 150 Next Page
Page Background


Summer 2016 18


by Wes Eis-

enschenk. 6 1/4˝ x 9 1/4˝ hardcover;

240 pages, 90 color photos, 49 black &

white. Published by Car Tech, Forest

Lake, MN.


The term “automotive archeology”

seems to have been coined about a

dozen years ago, around the time that

“barn find” entered the automotive en-

thusiast’s lexicon. This coincided with

a noticeable jump in prices of col-

lectible cars, which some have attrib-

uted to the arrival of televised

auctions on cable TV, notably Barrett-

Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona. They

are all interconnected, although which

came first and led to the others is a

chicken-and-the-egg question.

Finding a long-forgotten car in a

barn is one of the Holy Grails that car

enthusiasts search for. Initially one of

the motives is, certainly, the idea of

being able to find an abandoned car,

ideally with low mileage and not

picked clean of significant parts, and

buy it at a bargain basement price.

Another aspect is the thrill of the

hunt, only occasionally followed by the

pleasure of the kill. More often than

not the search leads to a dry hole. This

only motivates the dedicated detective

to continue, and stories of close calls

and dead ends are sometimes as inter-

esting as finding a car itself. And find-

ing it is no guarantee of anything.

Neglected and forgotten cars can often

turn out to be virtually worthless and

serve as little more than a thinning of

the herd. One less treasure to be dis-


Not all barn finds are created

equal. There is a hierarchy which val-

ues the aforementioned low mileage,

condition and rarity. Up near the top

of the scale are race cars, prototype or

show cars, muscle cars, cars with

unique history or that have had

celebrity owners. Stories about “lost”

cars are always of interest to auto en-

thusiasts and are eagerly read in car

magazines and on Internet websites

and blogs. They also provide material

for books. Like this one.

Wes Eisenschenk has collected

forty-five stories about, as the book’s

subtitle says, “the most elusive and

valuable muscle cars.” Not all of them

have been found, which provides hope

for the dreamers among us. The book

is divided into four sections: concept/

promo/prototype muscle, rare muscle

cars, race cars and celebrity-owned

muscle cars. Eisenschenk has not per-

sonally engaged in all of these

searches, but has combined stories

from a number of others to form the

body of this book. It makes for a very

fascinating read, even if, as a Shelby

guy, you’re not really that interested

in Camaros or Dodges. You begin to

see it’s the story that counts, not the

kind of car it centers around.

On particular interest to Shelby

enthusiasts are the chapters on two

famous cars which remain missing to

this day: Jim Morrison’s ‘67 GT500

“Blue Lady” and 1969 Playboy Play-

mate of the Year Connie Kreski’s pink

‘69 GT500. Interest in both cars is off

the scale because although they are

well known, neither has ever turned

up, leaving the possibility – however

slim it might be after four decades –

that someone could hit the lost car lot-

tery. There is no way to predict

whether that might come as the result

of painstaking and dedicated detective

work or just dumb luck. Either way,

help won’t come from either celebrity

as they have passed on to a place

where cars are not needed for trans-


As a sub-category, probably the

largest number of lost cars are the

ones that have been drag raced. Not

all of them were campaigned by

names you would recognize or by big

name performance dealers. Sometimes

someone working at a dealership

would convince the owner that spon-

soring a car optioned for drag racing

would be exactly the kind of advertis-

ing that would attract hoards of buy-

ers to their doors. Sometimes it did,

but often it took a long time commit-

ment for a dealership to become noted

for performance – not one car.

Typically with most drag cars,

after something faster was found the

owner would sell the “old” car and it

usually started it’s way down the food

chain. At some point enough parts

were taken off of it that it no longer

had any value as a race car. Cars like

this often passed through so many

owners that their original history was

lost. Many of the features that made

them identifiable had been removed,

replaced or modified. Stories about

cars like this are interesting and this

book is filled with them. Once you

start reading it’s hard to stop.