New Barn Finds Exhibit Adds Excitement to Wellborn Museum, Magazine Features Coming (story by Geoff Stunkard)
People think that great cars, even Hemi cars, can’t be found these days. They are certainly not as common as they were once, but Tim Wellborn showed that you can still located rare muscle even now with a great car that was not even known to the hobby prior to 2012. This car will be featured in Mopar Muscle and Musclecar Review magazines in 2013.
“Roger Gibson had heard about this car down in Texas, so I contacted the gentleman who owned it, but I really needed to see some pictures before I’d commit to going to see it. It took several months, and he finally went out and bought a little disposable camera. He sent me that, and as soon as I saw the pictures, we were on our way to Texas!”
The owner, Marcus Hanna of Grovebeck, Texas, had bought the car back in 1972, a real Hemi/four speed Road Runner complete with Dana Super Trak Pak, FJ5 Lime Light paint, and Air Grabber hood. He had done some drag racing with it, and had swapped the stick out for an automatic back in the day. After it had accumulated just 31,000 miles, instead of selling the car when that passion faded, he parked it in a pole barn along with a stash of parts. He had gone on to become a judge in west Texas, and Tim was pretty excited to see this car in those surroundings.
“It has those stickers inside of it, and there are changes that way; the four-speed was swapped out for an automatic to go racing. Some of those things will be repaired, but for the most part, this one will be a time capsule.”
“You won’t ever see that car washed; it has that haze of having sat in a barn and I like that,” he continues. “I am going to get it running and take it to shows, using it to show what a car looks like when it is just found. So, it will bear that patina. It has zero rust, never been wrecked, and only shows a few door dings.”
When the car was safely back in Alexander City, he and Philip Love, one of the coordinators of the day-to-day operations, decided they would use one corner of the museum to display the fresh find. The car originally purchased by Gordon Denzler has already been drawing attention and it was added to this display as well. This 1971 440-6 Challenger R/T with Shaker and long option sheet had been special ordered and purchased in Canada by Mr. Denzler in March 1971; it has a huge amount of paperwork with it (perhaps the most of any Mopar known to have been bought privately) as well as being one of the nicest ’71 R/Ts in unrestored existence. Tim had already planned to keep it that way.
“Yes, that car would easily be one of the top Mopars in the world restored because of the options, but I will keep it original simply because it serves as a true model of how these cars were built,’ Tim comments. “It is dirty, dusty, but it is truly untouched, and that car can teach the hobby far more in its state right now than if it were restored.”
The Challenger R/T had been part of a larger purchase from the collection of John Hedges that had been made to supplement the museum several years ago, and had helped fill up the huge ‘dealership’ parts room that is part of the collection. As a result, around these two cars (and the Vanishing Point Challenger movie car on loan from Ted Stevens) are displayed a plethora of parts and pieces, some showing wear, some NOS, and even a few aftermarket items. Among them is aluminum 318 block that came from Herb McCandless.
Looking up, one sees an unrestored Daytona; this car came from Illinois and is powered by a 440/four-speed combo. Like the other two, it is a stabilized, rust-free vehicle showing some aging – like all Daytonas, much of the original nose paint was peeling and flaking, so the front end was primered. The scoops on this Hemi Orange model were left showing the worn paint; the interior was showing more serious signs of wear, so this car is kept above the fray. Unlike the other two, this car is actually a long-time vehicle in the collection, Tim’s own ‘barn find.’
“I’ve had it for about 25 years and bought it to restore it,” admits Tim. “What was most important was, again, that was an absolutely rust free, never-wrecked machine. It was all there, and is a perfect candidate for restoration. It has always been ‘the next one I’m going to get to’ car in the collection, but as I got busy with the ’71 Chargers, it got pushed back. Right now, it fits right in as a car that nobody has messed with too much before it goes to restoration.”
The trio and the parts can be seen by the public during regular museum hours. Tim knows many people had the passion to find buried treasure, and says that is one more reason to leave these cars close to as they were found. Talking about the Hemi Road Runner, he concluded, “That car had never been shown, nobody knew about it, and it had two broadcast sheets. This was in 2012, so that just goes to show people, there is still hope out there.”