Discovering Lost Automobiles and Their Stories

Published on
January 31, 2023
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Michael Ware
Other Publication Information
Series: Transport
400 color & mono illustrations
Hardback, 216 pages
9.92 x 0.79 x 7.05 inches
Release date: 28th October 2022
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Many enthusiasts dream of finding a Bugatti or a Bentley in a barn or a long disused building. In reality, such finds are more likely to be an Austin 7, Ford Popular or a Mini. This book is stuffed with these so called “barn finds”. The author has tried to find out the background to the abandonment and the previous history of the “as found” car when it was in regular use. Why was it put away and apparently forgotten?

Many of the stories have appeared in his “Lost and Found” column in “Classic and Sports Car” magazine, but a book gives a chance for the expanded story to be told. The cars featured date from 1900 through till the 1980’s, most come from Great Britain and Europe but there are plenty from Australasia and USA. There are well over 200 different cars plus collections featured. Each story has at least one illustration to go with it. Some of the locations are bizarre, a Daimler buried under a rockery, a Porsche sunk in Lake Lucerne, a Rolls -Royce on the roof of a high rise building in Karachi, or a Morris 8 special in a Gloucestershire Pond.

There is a chapter on collections of cars, put together by seemingly eccentric owners who never got around to restoring them before their death. The author is not critical of any of these owners and is grateful for the number of cars they have saved from almost certain destruction.

If you’re like me, you could sit in front of the TV all day watching Mecum Auto Auctions or Barrett-Jackson Auctions. The seemingly endless parade of rare, exotic, and even domestic cars rolling across the auction block has you dreaming, and even wondering how the restored cars came to be in such perfect condition (a few episodes of Counting Cars will answer some of that for you)? Yep, you’re a car guy, just like me. The faster, the more European, and the cooler the better. Ironically, as a scale modeler, I don’t really build automotive subjects. I’ll never achieve the perfect finish that I marvel at, at every show I attend, and the chrome window trim has me running the other way. Yet, I love cars, and the subject matter of this book really spoke to me. So here we are.

Michael Ware is a noted author, journalist, and researcher most well-known for organizing the very first Beaulieu Autojumble in 1967. This outdoor swap meet come Auto Mart has since grown to be the largest event of its type on their side of the Atlantic. He’s been writing newspaper and magazine columns about “discovered” cars since 1983, and now, finally, he’s written this amazing book.

The book is written in as logical a manner that a subject so all-encompassing can be. Every vehicle that he writes about includes as much history that he was able to obtain, along with stories from the current owners where possible. Additionally, he delves in the history of the auto manufacturers, which I found interesting. Since I haven’t even heard of many of these brands (most found in or around the UK), it was helpful to learn about them. Many, if not most of the photos in the book are of the cars in the original state in which they were discovered.

Chapters include:

  • Chapter 1: Some strange locations.
  • Chapter 2: Acquisitive Collectors.
  • Chapter 3: The years of invention to 1918.
  • Chapter 4: Between the wars.
  • Chapter 5: The two greats – Austin and Morris.
  • Chapter 6: Classic cars 1946 – 1990.
  • Chapter 7: Sporty classics.
  • Chapter 8: One-offs and specials.
  • Chapter 9: Rolls-Royce
  • Postscript
  • Acknowledgments

This book represents a trip back in time, offering a glimpse of what it must’ve been like to own and drive these incredible, historic automobiles. The passion that the author has for them is palpable, and his deep knowledge base enhances the stories he writes about these cars. My thanks and gratitude to Pen & Sword, Casemate, and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this book.


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