We've been invited to observe what might be the largest automotive collection maybe in the world. It's not known as a car collection, thoughit's known as an art installation. This was built 20 years ago by a guy named Tom Merkelhis parents were artists and he wanted to be an artistand his medium was carsso on this site is between 1,200 and 1,800 cars set up in themesand I'm not sure what those themes areI think the largest theme is like, traffic jam, it's called. Interesting guy, he was heir to the White Motor CompanyI guess his grandfather or great-grandfather built White Cars and Trucksand so he had an inheritanceand this is where he invested it. Here's a sign that explains his mission.
The Cuyama Historical Car Garden
A creative preservation project based on the oriental rock garden concept of balance between form and natures memorial to the men of machines and the machines of men, a sanctuary of form time, and witness, please be respectfully invitation only, no parts sold estimated completion 1995TM Meriel, creator and timekeeper. Complex individual who is unfortunately not around for us anymore, he passed away recently, for us to talk toI'd love to talk to this guy and find out, what was his what was in his mind about doing this? But we're just gonna walk around for awhile until we get tired of walking and I'll carry my rattlesnake stick.
An Anisette, and this Anisette is known as the limit had a 600 CC motor, it had a door in the front and a door on the passenger side so this door opened up, I'm afraid what might jump out on me if I open it up. Santa Inez Airport, number 25. Apparently he would go see old vehicles in commercial businesses, like the airport and make an offer to buy I'll just take all of them from you. Nothing here is for sale no cars are for sale, no parts are for sale but if I could take one car out of here it would be this. It's a Jaguar XK 150 coupe it's not in the worst condition I've seen it's got some rust around here but I've seen worse that have been restored. This one does not have the original motor it's got an Oldsmobile engine in it and it looks like an automatic transmission probably some kind of turbo-hydramatic but I think this car could be restored. At one time, I'm told, he had a couple of these back here E-types, XK 120s, even Porsche 356s. This seems to be the only kind of exotic car left so if I could tow one car out of here, that would be it. Well, enough with rattlesnakes and '58 Chevys and 1,800 cars sitting on a mountainside, let's go.
Most of the people I meet on Barn Find Hunter I've never met beforeand most of the people, I just knock on doors'cause it's cool cars in their driveway or whateverbut this guy I happen to knowI'm thinking for 32 or 33 years. Yeah. Skip Hart, he's a friend of mine. Skip knew I was a hot rodder, and he saidI got a hot rod at home. And so I haven't seen this hot rod probably in 30-something years, 31, 32 years. Well, would you show us this car again? Yes, yes, I definitely would. Cool. Oh, there we go. Oh, that's a sweetheart, man. What'd you pay for the Model A? $200.00 back in 1964. You modified it with Chevy parts, where'd you get those? Did you buy a parts car? No, I had a '58 Chevy and it caught on fireand I thought, well, I'll just take the motor and trans and the rear end, and I put it in the roadster hereand then the friend of minehe had a '64 Chevy Lumina two-speed powerglideand I took the '58 transmission out and put the powerglide in this. No kidding. Just to, for lighting-- So what'd it cost you to build this whole cardo you figure, back in the day? I probably got, probably $800.00 in it. $800.00? Yes. Well, would you consider selling it? Oh, yeah, I probably would, Tom.
'65 Ford Falcon
So we're in Bernard Long's yard and he's been collecting cars since he was just a little kid, and had several yardsin fact, lived right across the street from here grew up across the street and has had several yards with old cars. So do you sell these cars or just hold onto 'em? It don't make any difference. Mm-hmm, so you got lots more outside, too? Yeah, two more places full of stuff. Geez. How long have you known him, since you were a kid? Which is how you old are?
Oh, look at it, there's another white truck. They're getting larger. Yeah. Yeah, we saw the car, and a truckand now we're seeing a big truck. So this is like a '39 Ford, I think. Yeah. Franklin, you know, this is an air-cooled engine we've seen one of these before in Detroit this is an air-cooled straight six, I guess.
And when I asked Bernard if anything was for salehe said, Well, I guess so. You know, when was the last time you saw a crashed 1957 Thunderbird?
Oh, look at that, Datsun 510, my baby. Now, I've got a soft spot in my heart for 510s. Stock motor, it's got a single downdraft two-barrel Hitachi. So what year is this, I would say '72I think that was the year they sold the most. It's a four-door with a stick shift and it looks like something lives inside it. I bet it's a solid car, if you wanted to restore a car or a 510, there's a west coast 510. I just get the feeling there's more cars around here it seems to be very fruitful, so let's see what else we can find while we're in the neighborhood.
I was driving down this road and I saw gas pumps and street signs and car-related stuff, but I looked really carefully I didn't seen any car stuff. So I pulled in the driveway and Joseph made a pretty strong statement about You don't pull in my driveway unless you have permission. So I had to pull out of the driveway but he, we wanted to become buddies I said, I'm into old cars, and he said Well, I've got old cars, and they're in the back. So you can't see them, they're very well hidden but he's got cars in the back which I have not seen yet so lead the way, please. (Joseph mumbles) What year is this? This is a '56. Is this your driver? Yeah, this a driver, oh yeah she's insured, she's registered and insured. It's automatic what have you got for a motor in there? It's a two, everything's stocked. Stock 223, Ford automatic-- 223-6, so how long have you had this truck? Since 1984. What did you pay for it? 2,800. That was a good buy. I can show you a picture of how clean it looked and cherry, but it's been out here all these years with no cover, so all this aging is since I've been here since '88. But it's still solid, right? You don't get much rain out here, right? Not a lot, a lot. This is all the weathering that's happened to it I can show you a picture when it looks really-- So in other words, this was all blue on here?
Everything's blue I can show you a picture on my phone, what it looked like but you won't even believe the difference but this is where it's come all these years. That's a pretty one, and you drive it around, no-- Oh yeah, oh yeah. I see an El Camino over here I have seen more El Camino's in California then I've seen in a long time, '66? '64. '64, okay. Yeah, '64, 283, I've had itI work with a gentleman and for 20 years he kept telling me. Hey Joseph, I've got this El Camino. I never saw it, and after he retired, he called me up and asked me if I'd give $400.00 for it. I couldn't get my trailer together quick enough to go get it. So how long have you had it? Oh man, this one I've had about 10 years right now, the weekend I bought itI saw it pitted on the hood, there's a ding in the back-and I was able to, that weekend to find another hood and another fender for this one and a real tailgate, all the same weekend all the parts that I would need for the body to be (mumbles) cherry. Are you interested in selling any of these cars? It's possible it's possible, I haven't in the past but maybe it's time to consider that, you know.
Now this is one of my favorites. '68. I have a '68 Cougar. Oh, do you? So it's a 302? Yes, 302. Air conditioned? Mm-hmm. Two barrel air conditioning. Did you ever drive this? Yeah, my son didmy son drove for a number of years. Did he put the dent in it? Yes, he did. Yes, he did. And that's a '66 Ford? This is a '68, '66 Galaxy, man. '66 Galaxy with a 352-- I used to have the seven liter. Oh, did you reallywas it a four-speed or an automatic? It was automatic. So this is a two-door hardtoppeel all this, drop the windows, wide open. So if I wanted to buy the El Caminowhat would you ask for that? Wow, I don't know, but I guess at this point I'd be willing to negotiate.