Episode 34, Journalist Ryan Brutt: Will travel for barn finds

Michael James

Ryan Brutt is a writer and photographer who exudes enthusiasm about muscle cars. His interest is overtly apparent in his new book, Muscle Car Barn Finds. It details the art of automotive scavenger hunts.

Brutt, self-described as an Automotive Archaeologist, lives in Chicago. The contributing rider to Hot Rod Magazine is our guest on Episode 34 of The Weekly Driver Podcast. Hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia discuss the book and Brutt’s trials and tribulations as he travels through several states on his mission to discover hundreds of often abandoned rarities.Episode 34, Journalist Ryan Brutt: Will travel for barn finds 1

Consider Brutt’s premise: You’re driving along a country road in Alabama and something bright orange in nearby field attracts your attention. It’s parked near an old barn and partly covered in mildew. You pull into what remains of the driveway in the abandoned lot and your hunch is correct.

It’s a 1966 Mustang Fastback. It looks neglected. But a good washing later, it’s presentable, and another vintage muscle car has a new life. The same scenario could involve a station wagon in Michigan, a Mercedes-Benz in Florida or a long-forgotten pick-up truck in Texas.

They’re all known by the automotive colloquialism, Barn Finds. It’s the sub-set of muscle car barn finds Brutt honors in his new book of the same name.

Sub-titled “Rusty Road Runners, Abandoned AMXs and Camaros and More!” (Motorbooks, $35), the 160-page hardback details the author’s treks to uncover muscle car enthusiasts’ dream machines.

“These old warriors aren’t dead, just resting,” reads a segment of the book’s promotional material. “A drive in the country or through a small-town back street will reveal them lurking under tarps, hidden behind garage doors and stashed behind fences from prying eyes.”

While traveling in eastern Tennessee, Brutt finds what he had long heard about but couldn’t believe until it appeared through some roadside hedges. Past a few roads of project cars in various shapes, sizes and degrees of disarray, a storage shed was home to an array of first-generation Corvettes.

“In all my travels, I had never seen such a collection of really early Corvettes,” he writes. “There were three rows of them with three or four cars per row.”

Brutt also details a no-so-pleasing occasion when he faced the wrath of a husband and wife, who, let’s say, didn’t exactly provide a warm welcome.

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Article Last Updated: April 24, 2018.

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