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Automoblog Book Garage: Route 66 Barn Find Road Trip

Book Garage

When Tom Cotter is not teaching college, he’s on the road getting himself into all kinds of adventures. This was evident recently when we covered one of his Barn Find books for this series. I figured after featuring Barn Find Road Trip, Cotter had seen the country, compiled his stories, and now that he had the book done, was satisfied.

I pictured Cotter saying, “yeah, that was a wild trip,” or “man, what a once in a lifetime opportunity.” Then, after seeing Route 66 Barn Find Road Trip, I realized I don’t know Tom Cotter. 

Getting Kicks

Known as the Main Street of America, U.S. Route 66 stretches over 2,400 miles, and served as a major artery during the Dirty Thirties. Its namesake is reflected in the King Cole Trio song (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, while one of its enduring nicknames, The Mother Road, comes from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Further efforts to preserve this piece of American culture were taken by President Clinton in 1999.

Along Route 66, businesses, waypoints, and arguably an entire culture emerged. As the years progressed, many of the treasures left behind on this American landscape became ripe for the picking. Realizing this, Cotter takes off once again for another Barn Find adventure, this time along the great highway. Among the motels, diners, and service stations are forgotten automotive relics, and Cotter is determined to find them.

Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino

Cotter and his BBF (best barn finder) buddy Brian Barr begin outside Chicago, joining up with photographer Michael Alan Ross. The trio hauls through the Midwest before canvassing Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. They document their treasure trove finds along the way, pushing farther into Arizona. When the group makes it all the way to sunny Santa Monica, California, the result is this wonderful book of automotive artifacts.

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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.


Ross has carved out a career photographing the studied nuances, latest models, adrenaline-rushed raceways, and proud owners of the car world. In addition to working with Motorbooks, his photography is featured in various editorial and advertising mediums in the United States and Europe. Ross is also known for his love of automotive design, which includes an encyclopedic knowledge of sculptural engineering details.

Road Trip

Route 66 Barn Find Road Trip: Lost Collector Cars Along the Mother Road is available through Amazon and Motorbooks. If you have never been on Route 66, this book will make you want to go – if you have already been, it will make you want to take another journey on America’s most iconic highway. 

Route 66 Barn Find Road Trip Gallery

Recently in the Automoblog Book Garage, we looked at the dynamic history of Jeep.