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VIDEO: The reality of the “barn find”

Published in blog.hemmings.com

If there’s a siren song that we’ll all dash our ship upon the rocks over these days, it’s the lure of the “barn find.” We’re all looking for one. Reality TV has placed its bet on them. The auctions salivate over them. But, the unicorns aside, what’s an actual barn find really made of? What’s it like to find one? What’s the reality behind the Reality TV?

Having experienced a few cars we’d categorize as barn finds – and believe us, we’re our own harshest skeptic when it comes to this stuff – we know that these cars are a crapshoot. The measurement, in millimeters, of the dust layer covering the car is commensurate with the disappointment in said car’s intrinsic value.

But then, along comes Jerry Heasley’s 1st-person video documentation of a North Texas barn find. And the genius behind Jerry’s video isn’t the value of the actual car, as much as it is the sheer joy he experiences in just the simple act of pulling the car out of its tomb and washing the dust off it.

There’s the ubiquitous owner. The shed. The initial discovery of the car. The sudden heart-rate increase over the possibility of a rare model. The rushed assessment of the car’s value, based on all the little accessories. The fantasy of telling the story around drinks at Barrett-Jackson. In some ways, the 24-hour media cycle around old cars has ruined the barn find for us, because we all expect to uncover that unicorn we mentioned earlier. And, by its nature, a unicorn is the rare exception, not the rule.

But Jerry doesn’t care about all that. Jerry loves the process of discovery. Jerry loves the dust. Jerry revels in the experience of it all. Jerry finds more value in the story he’ll tell later, than the value of the car itself. Jerry’s got a fisheye lens on his camera. Jerry appreciates the value of a portable pressure washer.

So, what’s the parable of this seemingly simple, half-hour long video? When it comes to a barn find, be Jerry.