A Coffee Table Book Of Barn Finds Is As Great As It Sounds
The month of March found three books in the Petrolicious mailbag. I was hoping to find a common thread to link them all together, but they are all quite different—except that they’re all deeply tied to passions: for collecting, designing revolutionary small cars, and seriously pretty toys.
Stumbling onto a barn find is an experience that every classic car enthusiast probably wishes they could have. While not every car is found in a “barn”, cars can become lost for a time, and then found, and perhaps brought back to their former glory. Such was the case with the Roger Baillon Collection that was auctioned last year by the Artcurial auction house at at the Rétromobile Salon in Paris.
Beginning around the 1950s, Roger Baillon, a French transportation and shipping magnate, started to assemble a collection of cars. Like any enthusiast, he lavished care and attention on his cars, and even had dreams of displaying the collection in his own museum. However, his business suffered a downturn in the 1970s, and he was consequently forced to sell some of the cars to settle some debts.
The remaining part of the collection fell into varying degrees of decay on his property where they were stored, with little hope of being restored after Baillon’s health took a turn for the worse. When Baillon passed away over a decade ago, his collection passed on to his son Jacques, but sadly he didn’t get terribly too far in doing much with it before he, too, died.
Roger Baillon’s grandchildren eventually inherited the collection, and enlisted Artcurial to assess the collection with an eye towards a sale. While not actually stored in a barn, what the auction house did find was just as sensational—a decaying treasure trove of rare and important automobiles including several Talbot Lago T26s, a Hispano Suiza H6B cabriolet Millon-Guiet, a Maserati A6G 2000 Gran Sport Berlinetta, and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider once belonging to French movie star Alain Delon. In Baillon Collection: A Sensational Barnfind, author Rémi Dargegen evocatively documents how these cars, and many others were discovered on the grounds of the Baillon chateau (“Chateau find?”)—stored in sheds, but frequently in makeshift and open wooden shelters, many of them unprotected so long from the elements that nature had begun to reclaim some of them. It boggles the mind, but there are still wonderful cars out there just waiting to be found. If you have interest in barn finds, this book is a way to see them “au natural.”
Title: Fiat 500: The Design Book
Author: Fiat, Enrico Leonardo Fagone (foreword)
Fiat, in conjunction with Rizzoli, have published Fiat 500: The Design Book. While ostensibly about the model and its derivatives that have been in production since 2007, the current Cinquecento builds its reputation and identity on the back of an automotive classic. The original Fiat 500 of 1957-1960 was an original design based on a clean sheet of paper. It offered style, as well as economy and versatility, all qualities which propelled the little car into the history books as an icon.
There are pages of designer commentary, illustrations, and sketchs of various Fiat 500 design elements, as well as a contribution from Enrico Leonardo Fagone, an architect by education, who frequently speaks and writes about the topic of automotive design. If one wishes to get a peek into the process that takes place before a car goes into production, this book offers it up by showing the the influences that contributed to the design of today’s 500, and perhaps gives us a glimpse into future iterations. This well produced book is best-suited to the modern 500 enthusiast. Also, the puffy cover of the book was designed to simulate the front of the car—neat.
Title: A Lot of Lots
Author: Dr. Thomas Gruber, Martin Czapka
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: for many of us car fanatics, it all started with a $0.99 toy. Over the years, the toy car hobby has become an industry to itself, and its wares commodities bought and sold just like their more mechanical big brothers. A far cry from their $0.99 roots, rare, original cars now trade for many multiples of their original price. Written, or perhaps more accurately “curated” by Dr. Thomas Gruber and Martin Czapka, A Lot of Lots is a photo-documentary of a significant, and varied collection of small-scale toy and model cars.
Cars from the ’50s all the way through to the contemporary era are elegantly photographed and showcased, sometime together with their original packaging or boxes. The manufacturers should be familiar to toy car enthusiasts: Distler, Gescha, Schuco, JNF, Tippco, Joustra, Bandai, Mitsuhashi, Paya, Siku, Kaname Sangyo, and Masudaya…to name a few. The early cars are made of tin, but later cars are manufactured of more modern materials like resin and plastic. Likewise, detailing in these toys starts off as somewhat primitive, but gets far more intricate and involved as the decades go on.
A Lot of Lots is a charming coffee table book. Over the course of 600 large-scale and not to mention heavy pages, 270 model cars are showcased. There isn’t much text, and what text there is is written in German, but it doesn’t matter—what the book will surely do is make you harken back to the time when you were a young boy (or girl) and received that first tiny metal car that set you on this path…