A Massive Barn-Find Muscle Car Collection You Have to See
The hoard was auctioned off and included Mustangs, GTOs, Chevelles, Challengers, and more.
It's a story familiar to many of the car obsessed: Over several decades of scanning the local classifieds, those great finds and promising projects dutifully hauled home for restoration have a tendency to multiply, piling up in out buildings, temporary shelters, and garages. At some point you look around and find yourself in a situation like Coyote Johnson's, where some 90 muscle and pony cars in various states of repair—and disrepair—sat idle for years in Red Oak, Iowa. The time to divest came for Johnson, though, with VanDerBrink Auctions contracted to sell the collection piece by piece on September 14, 2019 to enthusiasts who just might be able to get the cars back on the road.
According to the auction house, Coyote Johnson's primary motivation for hoarding muscle cars in a barn was simple: "If you had a hot car, you got the girls." We're not sure how that worked out for Coyote, but certainly most of the cars will need serious attention before they're "hot." Or capable of traveling anywhere besides on the back of a flatbed tow truck, for that matter. Some were said to run and drive when they were sold, but as the auction house points out, "These vehicles have been in storage and may need more work from old gas, limited or soft brakes, so plan and bid accordingly." Several needed an external fuel feed, and they almost all likely have aged seals, gaskets, rubber hoses, fuel lines, and transmission and brake hydraulics that disintegrated as the cars sat.
The cars on offer were mostly 1960s and '70s Plymouth, Dodge, and GM vehicles, with plenty of Barracudas, Road Runners, Chargers, Challengers, and Chevelles to go around. Several are of pretty decent spec, too, like the 1968 Plymouth Road Runner 383 with a four-speed manual transmission, or the 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle with a 454-cubic-inch V-8 and a four-speed. All were sold in as-is, where-is condition at no reserve. The top-selling car was the orange 1972 Plymouth 'Cuda shown above, at $43,200. Sold as an older restoration, the engine was said to run via external fuel supply, although the brakes need attention. Otherwise, the car looked fairly straight if a bit tired, with a 318-cubic-inch V-8 and automatic transmission. No mention of whether either were original to the 'Cuda, though it was claimed to be "mostly original" overall. A few other similar Dodge Challengers and 'Cudas that were mostly complete and in running condition sold in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, while several that were missing powertrains and were rougher overall sold for well under $10,000.
As for well-bought cars, a fairly well-preserved 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 coupe (above) with a 350-cubic-inch V-8 and a four-speed manual transmission brought $27,500. Running but needing brake work, this Z/28 had the right transmission and a nice orange with black stripes paint scheme. It didn't seem to need too much to be a good driver and if the engine and transmission were original to the car, we'd expect to see this one do even better at a venue like Barrett-Jackson. We also liked the red 1997 Pontiac Firebird convertible that was said to run and drive well. It looked good, too, and with 76,000 miles on the clock, a 3.8-liter V-8 and a five-speed manual transmission, it looked like a fun cruiser for just $5,940.