‘61 Porsche 356
Not all car purchase stories are glamorous…
For the past 15 years I’ve hunted down cars across the county, and overseas. I’ve purchased cars from eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, neighbors, news paper ads, and many other channels. I’ve pulled Volkswagens out of fields, motorcycles out of basements, and loads of cars out of people’s personal garages.
Not all car purchase stories are glamorous or interesting, but there is one story that seems to attract more attention that others. A true barn find story. The term “barn find” is often thrown around in the car world these days. Finding a car in a shed or a carport doesn’t count in my book.
In my years of car buying and selling, I’ve been lucky enough to come across two true barn finds. Ironically, the two came just 5 months apart. The first is the 1961 Porsche 356B Super 90 with a factory sunroof that I pulled from a barn in eastern North Carolina.
I was given a lead on this car from a good friend who I met selling VW parts online. He told me the car had been sitting for decades as he showed me a few blurry photos.
In August 2018, the owner of the 356B Super 90 finally decided to sell the car and had a local mechanic come take a look to see if the motor was locked up before offering it to a neighbor. The mechanic wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about the car, but he did, and a contact of his immediately travelled down from Virginia and made an offer.
The owner was about to accept, but when word got back to my friend, he contacted me and gave me the owner’s info. I called the owner and set up a time to come see the car two days later.
I travelled over 600 miles with a trailer, cash, and extra help to purchase the Super 90. After a short look, I made a higher offer. The owner called the guy from Virginia. The man said he would match my offer, and the owner told me, “The deal is done and you’ll be going home without the car.”
My heart about stopped at this moment. I upped my original offer substantially and was now more than double the other guy’s first offer! The owner reluctantly told me that he was a man of his word, and was going to sell it to the guy from Virginia because it was a father and son that were going to fix it up. He gave me the other buyer’s number and I called to plead my case, but he said he wouldn’t let me buy it.
After two hours of going round-and-round with the seller and the other buyer, I finally headed home in complete shock. I had the cash, the trailer, and the help to dig the car out of the barn. For some reason the owner felt loyal to the other buyer saying that he was, “a man of integrity,” and, “couldn’t sleep at night,” if he went back on his word.
I always deal honestly when buying and selling cars. It was hard to argue with the man about his values, as those are qualities I respect.
I got about 20 minutes down the road back to Nashville with my mind spinning 100mph. I quickly decided to pull over and text the guy in Virginia. For some reason, I just wasn’t buying the father and son project story after speaking with him on the phone earlier. I offered to pay him $5,000 if he would just let me buy the car. He responded with a picture of a garage full of air-cooled Porsches and said, “You have a long drive ahead of you buddy.”
Obviously this guy had been dishonest and was playing the owner of the Super 90. It was in that moment that he dug his own grave. I simply took a screenshot of his arrogant text and sent it to the owner.
I genuinely believed the owner cared about integrity and doing the right thing. I left on great terms with him and thanked him for his time showing me the car. Right after I sent the screenshot, I could see he had viewed the message, but he didn’t respond. Still in disbelief, I drove all the way back home to Nashville.
When I woke up the next morning, the owner responded saying that he was taking the car off the market and would not be selling it to the man in Virginia. I was relieved.
Over the next few months I would periodically text the owner, not in a pushy way, but rather voicing my passion and interest in the car. Towards the end of October I decided to text him one more time sharing how I would love nothing more than to own his car and work on it over the winter.
Amazingly he responded! In a short but sweet text, it read, “Be here tomorrow with a check made out to me and it’s all yours.”
…0.001 seconds later I responded “Done.”
Hit the road at 4am and timed it so I would be in Knoxville the minute the bank opened.
Got the cashiers check. Texted him a picture of it.
Arrived at his house that afternoon around 2pm and the rest is history.
The car was mine. Easily my favorite car find of all time… so far.