Before I begin let me start off by saying, yes, this is another story of a “barn find”, much like every other dilapidated and dust covered car that has spilled out of some decrepit hiding hole as of recently. But this story is different; this story focuses on something a little less tangible. It requires one […]
Before I begin let me start off by saying, yes, this is another story of a “barn find”, much like every other dilapidated and dust covered car that has spilled out of some decrepit hiding hole as of recently.
But this story is different; this story focuses on something a little less tangible. It requires one to think a little deeper and look past the pomp and hype that is thrown around with the term “barn find”. I am speaking on the soul of the car and the feelings associated with it. The way it can seemingly weave a story to you with just a simple glance. There are people out there who don’t believe a car can have a soul. It is, however, my personal belief that the soul of a car is largely made up of the experiences that car shares with its owner and the memories that are created together. Soul, as well as character, comes down to the chipped paint, worn seats and that one broken off piece of under-engineered plastic trim. It is the imperfections and foibles that tell a story and provide that lifeless form of man made materials with boundless levels of soul and character that cannot be imparted into other inanimate objects. A random introduction is all it takes sometimes. Then, as you delve deeper into conversation, facts are revealed that make you lean a little closer and listen with a little more intent. This is much how it happened when I first discovered the existence of this particular 1967 Porsche 911S. In this case, a chance conversation of automotive tastes revealed a rare 911, stashed away in a barn, buried deep under hopes of one day resuscitating the vehicle back to its former glory and once again forming long lasting memories as owner and car once had done so many years ago. Other cars were mentioned that were of interest but the conversation seemed clouded as I incessantly envisioned that first year S. My mind drifted longingly to it sitting there in some dark corner, covered in dust and grime, so out of its natural element but perfectly placed at the same time.
After a week had passed, arrangements were made to see one of the owners other cars that was worthwhile but after stalling as long I possibly could I worked up the courage and asked if it was possible to see the S. The owner agreed and we headed towards the bright red barn that stood at the back of his property. The short journey of only a couple hundred feet seemed to take ages as my anticipation heightened. Countless thoughts fluttered through my head and my hands began to slightly perspire as my nervousness got the best of me. Its not every day that you get to see a first year 911S that has been entombed in darkness for over 20 years and the brevity of the situation was quickly catching up to me.
As the squeaky and tired sliding doors were pulled back to reveal the resting spot of the aged 911, the light from outside spilled over it, revealing its timeless shape and classic lines. My eyes danced over the car, covering every inch and taking in all the details and patina that my corneas could possibly process. One glance was all that was needed to tell that this particular 911 was never a polished ornament sitting covered in a climate controlled, sterilized garage with a box of cloth booties sitting next to the door to cover your shoes before you got in.
This car was a remnant of the days when you could actually use and thoroughly enjoy something like this without having to worry if driving it might dislodge a bolt a quarter of a turn and therefore devaluing it by six and third percent. We often forget in this modern day of classic car evaluation indexes and ever increasing auction results that at one time these were just cars. They were intended to be used and abused and as I looked over the car, this stark reality was never more apparent to me. Cars like this were school shuttles, grocery getters and memory makers. They were a delight to drive and delighted in being driven.
Circling the car I could feel it almost speaking to me as if it wanted to tell me all the fantastic places it had been and the things it had seen. I was brought back to the reality of that dingy red barn as the owner mentioned something to me from what seemed like miles away but in reality was just over my shoulder. What followed was a truly delightful conversation with him recounting the entirety of his ownership and the experiences he had shared with his Porsche.He regaled me with tales of different times and places and an era that is long gone now. He covered the whole progression of events in the cars life from him driving it hours home after he purchased it, to the time a Pontiac Firebird rear ended him during an all important beer run, its distinctively pointed nose leaving a telltale crease in the rear deck which was still visible, adding even more to the allure of his story.I attempted to listen as intently as possible but all the while, my eyes kept drifting away from our conversation to take in more of the aged and soiled beauty sitting in the corner. Even in the darkness and under all the dust it seemed to emit a slight radiant glow, continually pulling my eyes back to it. When I snapped back to the conversation, I could see in the owner’s eyes, as he spoke of the car, the bond he shared with it. It was almost as if the memories were playing out in his eyes, like some cranial slide show to which I had been granted a free ticket.
We talked for quit a long time and eventually, as the reader has surmised, an offer was made, a deal was struck and hands were shook as the doors to the barn closed. I would return later with as much camera gear as my colleagues and myself could gather in an attempt to document the feelings I have put down in words here. No matter how hard you try though, it is impossible to replicate the feeling of actually being there. The sights produced through our lenses offer a distant depiction of the reality of the situation.
It is truly a whole different sensation when you are actually standing in front of the car, inhaling in the dust and squinting through the darkness of the clouded windows. After exhausting every photographic angle and undoubtedly most of the owner’s patience, the car was pulled out of its resting place and loaded onto a trailer, bringing a sorrowful end to that particular portion of the 911’s life.
Unfortunately, time had taken its toll on the car. The combination of thorough and spirited usage and the gregarious amount of salt used on Northeastern roads during the winter meant this car would need to undergo an extensive amount of work to be road worthy again. This is quite a depressing fact when one stops to think about it given an unfortunate byproduct of the restoration process is the loss of the character and soul that was imparted into this car throughout its 48-year lifetime. The exterior display of those memories created will be stripped away, much like the paint, peeled back layer by layer till nothing is left but the bare shell and a blank canvas.
It is a sad process separating a car and owner that have enjoyed so much together and it is even more difficult when that owner personally shares the stories and memories the car created for him. This is however no reason to feel sad and forlorn as this is an opportunity for this particularly special 911 to begin its new life. With every coat of shining paint and each new stitch in the upholstery comes another step towards this car being returned to the condition and shape it truly deserves to be in. This is an opportunity for this little S to find a new and loving owner and to begin forming all new memories and character. The 1967 911S is a truly distinctive car in the world of 911s’, with only around 1800 originally being built and who knows how many are left after countless liftoff over-steer incidents and race car conversions. Therefore, as painful as it might be to lose some of the character and soul, it is absolutely necessary to return this car to drivability in hopes that a new generation will be able to build memories with it, much like the last owner. Hopefully the next caretaker will impart a new sense of character and soul to this car all over again and fill the blank canvas of a 911S with their own lifetime of sights and experiences.
- Photo and Words: Nick Zabrecky- LBI Limited
- Video: MotorCar Studios