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Geoff Hacker followed up a lead about an unusual sports car in California. Turns out it was a Siebler special, exactly what hacker had been researching. Photo: Geoff Hacker.

Automoblog Book Garage: 50 Shades of Rust

I’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey. I’m not saying it’s a bad book – it’s clearly a best-seller – I’m just saying I’ve never read it. That’s not too surprising since pop culture normally passes me by at lightning speed. Just the other day, I learned the meaning of “Bye Felicia.”

My friends laugh at my inability to understand even basic modern cultural nuances. Earlier this week, while traveling with a group of automotive industry colleagues, I was typing away on my laptop. As our rental minivan van went bouncing down the interstate, I was working.

They each insisted I take a vacation at once, saying I “don’t get out much.”

“True, but where would I go anyway,” I inquired.

“Somewhere, anywhere – just take a trip other than where we head for work,” one colleague replied.

And then, naturally, I thought of Tom Cotter.

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50 Shades of Rust by Tom Cotter.

Different Shades

In this Book Garage series, we have featured both Barn Find Road Trip and Route 66 Barn Find Road TripIn each book, Cotter takes off with his car guy buddies, traversing our great country in search of automotive treasures. These motoring archaeology quests have morphed into an entire lifestyle, complete with a genre of TV shows. Like I said, popular culture tends to be lost on me, but I am definitely familiar with the barn find movement.

There is no doubt Cotter is one of its defining figures. Now, we hit the road with him once again in 50 Shades of Rust. The book documents 90-plus of the most memorable barn find adventures and stories, complete with detailed photography.

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This is the same 914 after removing lots of acorns and the mouse hotel, installing new rings, and doing a good compound and polish. Photo: John Forbes.


For the past 30 years, Cotter has worked on nearly every end of the car business: mechanic, sales, public relations, marketing executive, auto racing authority, historian, racer, collector, restorer, journalist, and author. Cotter teaches public relations at Belmont Abbey College, sits on the advisory board of McPherson College’s Auto Restoration program, and is a member of the Road Racing Driver’s Club.

Career Goals

This week, next week, the week after, and the week after that – in fact, for the foreseeable future, I am resolved to writing in the back of rental vans and in the lobbies of every hotel imaginable. Thanks to guys like Cotter, I have a new appreciation for working on the road – you never know who you will meet and what you will discover. 50 Shades of Rust: Barn Finds You Wish You’d Discovered is available through Amazon and Motorbooks.

50 Shades of Rust Gallery