October 2023

A Real Barn Find

by Fran Zeitz

Lotus Europa S1 
Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons
Lotus Europa S1 (1967-1968), the model Brian owned (see story below). Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons

It’s been just over a year now that the Gold Coast British Sports Car Club lost one of our founding members, Brian Jenkins.

For many years, Brian held Board positions, and for ten years he worked diligently as our Car Show Chairman. Brian loved sports cars and started an auto repair business in Plantation, Fla. He did it all, from small repairs to frame-off restorations, custom modifications, custom paint and much more. Many club members became his customers as well as his friends.
Brian had a reputation for honesty, fairness and great work. He specialized in British cars, and his passion was Lotus. Recently we were in Brian’s house and came across this article written by Brian and published many years ago in an issue of British Marque. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we did.

As told by Brian Jenkins:
My Drive Up North to Buy Something for Better Driving

The story begins as follows. I was at a car show with my ’67 Lotus Europa S1 at Old Town, outside of Orlando, Fla. A guy came up to me and asked if I would like to buy another ’67 Europa S1. I questioned him about the car. It appeared that it was in good shape with low mileage.

The owner, located way up north, bought the car in 1974, drove it for two years, and then put it away because he got married and had children. (Boy, I think I have heard that before!) Anyway, this guy gave me the phone number of the owner of the car, whom I called two weeks later when I returned home. He stated that he was interested in selling the car.

We talked about the car and its history. It had been in storage for 26 years in a heated barn, on a second floor made of wood. He was also an antique boat collector, and he said it was in the back of the barn behind about ten boats. He stated I would have to wait until spring when the snow melted and he could move the boats.

He also said he hadn’t even seen the car in 20 years because it was covered with all kinds of stuff. However, he did manage to clear away the stuff and send me some pictures of the car.

After receiving the pictures and talking with him a few more times, I offered him $2,000 for the car. He would not give me an answer. It was February, and he told me he would call me in a few months since he couldn’t do anything because of the snow. There was four feet of snow in front of the barn door by this time! I waited, and those two months were the longest of my life.

In April, I called him again. He said that most of the snow was gone and he would move the boats the following weekend. At that time, I tried to nail him down as to a price and a time when I could come and pick it up. He then realized how serious I was about purchasing the car.

He told me that he really didn’t know much about the worth of the car since he didn’t know much about Europas. When he said this I feared that he was going to put it on the Internet and it would sell for much more because of the low mileage and the fact that it was all original. He said he would call me back in a week or two to discuss the price.

Again, it was a very long two weeks, and he did not call me back so I called him. He told me he had checked into the price and had been told it was worth between $2,500 and $8,000. I told him the most I would pay was $2,500 because it still needed a full restoration. He stated he would think about it and call me back.

He again did not return my call, so I waited four days and called him. This time he agreed to $2,500. There was about 30 seconds of silence on the phone and I danced around the floor. We set a date for me to be there to pick it up. Two weeks later I was on my way to upstate New York, about ten miles south of the Canadian border.

Europa in Autocross
Brian taking the finished Europa through the cones during an autocross.
Photo courtesy GCBSCC

I left at 6 a.m. on the first day and drove to just south of Washington, D.C. I arrived at 2 a.m. the next morning. I don’t know what kept me awake, the adrenaline, the anticipation of getting another car, or the No-Doz that a truck driver friend gave me. The next day I arrived in New York, got a hotel room and slept for 14 hours.

The next morning I met the owner as planned. When we opened the garage doors, there it was — VIN #3701, looking almost new though somewhat dirty.
I was happy with the condition of the car. There were three things I was especially pleased with — the interior was perfect it was a French version of the car with all the writing inside being French (very rare in the United States) and the tires were like new (Europa tires, which no one has seen in about 20 years and are not made anymore). There was also no dry rot.

The barn had no windows on the second floor and it was pitch black inside. As we were pushing the car towards the door I stopped and asked the owner if he had said something. He said “No.” I could have sworn that somebody said “Somebody give me some shades.” This car had been in a dark barn for 26 years and was being pushed into the daylight, so I guess it was the car speaking!

I asked to be left alone to look over the car. For the next three hours, the more I looked at the car, the happier I became. Everything was great. It needed to be cleaned up and repainted, but the frame, glass, interior, etc., were almost new.
When I opened the glovebox there was a nice mouse nest. After relocation of the nest and collecting 26 years’ rent from the mice, I pushed the car onto the trailer. At this time I heard “Alright! Retiring to sunny Florida!” This time I was sure it was the car.

I gave the owner the $2,500, got the bill of sale, and we sat for a few hours and talked about the car. When I asked him why he wasn’t going to give the car to his son or restore it himself, he said he was too old, and, “You’ve seen the roads up here in the Adirondacks, my son would kill himself in it.”

I probably shouldn’t have, but I told him that Lotus LTD was having its Annual Meet that year in Canada, about 50 miles from there, and he could have sold it for a lot more if he had taken it there. He wasn’t really upset, he replied, because he only paid $895 for it 28 years ago.

I was back on my way to Florida, 3,400 miles and six days, with a new car to work on. All the way back I was thinking what I got myself into. I was 42 years old and I was wondering if I have the energy to do this. Then I thought about what it would be worth when it is done. After at least ten thumbs-up from people on the road on the way back, I was sure it would be worth it.

I was going to restore it back to original, with a British white paint job and yes, no chrome on the engine. It was going to be an AACA car, with no thrills — as they say, a real “Plain Jane.” I expected it would take me about six months to do and I was looking forward to bringing it to the shows.

P.S. You all know Lotus uses a lot of British parts off of other British cars, so if you see me at the shows, walking around with tools in my hands, just close your trunks and keep your eyes on me!

[Thank you to the family of the late Brian Jenkins for their permission to print this story. Brian often told the story of his “barn find”! —FZ]

Upcoming Events

If you have not yet made your reservation for our Annual Membership Dinner, please do it quickly. It will be held on Saturday, October 21st, 6 p.m., at Tropical Acres Steakhouse, 2500 Griffin Rd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The club will be paying for a portion of your meal and your spouse or guest. Please see your e-mails for meal choices and other information, or contact our club e-mail address, goldcoastbscc@gmail.com.

As in the past, we will be holding our annual election of officers during the Dinner. Our Board meets monthly generally by on-line Zooming, and perhaps a couple of times per year in person. Here is a list of all of our current positions and briefly their descriptions: President, who presides over monthly Board meetings Vice Presidents, one for each county, who plan alternating monthly activities Secretary, who takes minutes at our monthly Board meetings and Treasurer, who is responsible for fiscal activities.

Also Membership Chairman, who welcomes new members Editor, who sends monthly articles to the British Marque newspaper Webmaster, who works with the Marque and maintains web activities Regalia Chairperson, who maintains the club’s regalia Car Show Chairperson, who oversees all events concerning our club Car Show Events Coordinator, who organizes non-club-sponsored events and Social Media Coordinator, who maintains social media platforms.
We welcome club members to apply for any position. We are always looking for new faces and new ideas. Send your inquiries or comments to our club e-mail address, or contact any current Board member. If you don’t feel that you can commit to a Board position, please consider volunteering to help out in any capacity.

On Saturday, October 28th, we will meet for Cars & Coffee 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Ragtops Museum, Lake Worth Beach, Fla.

Then, on Saturday, November 4th, we will hold our Fall Club Picnic at Heritage Park, Plantation, Fla. The Picnic starts at 11 a.m. at Shelter #10. The club will provide barbecue foods and soft drinks, and members are asked to bring a side dish, salad, appetizer or dessert. There is plenty of parking for your British cars! Check your e-mails and the club website, www.goldcoastbritcar.com, for further information.

Please visit our website to find information about the club, recent news, and announcements of upcoming events. And also check out our Facebook page. Inquiries can be directed to our e-mail.

Happy motoring and hope to see you soon!