Finding Abandoned Motorcycles: The Vincent in the Barn

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Photo courtesy of Motorbooks
The Vincent in the Barn" tells the stories of 40 people who found and restored classic abandoned motorcycles.

“We’ve all had the dream. Opening the door of a tumbledown shed in the back of beyond and finding a battle-scarred race bike that hasn’t turned a wheel in 50 years.” So begins Phillip Tooth’s story of a forgotten foursome of Indian race bikes found by Larry Feece Sr. in a small shed in Indiana some 20 years ago. The stuff of dreams, it’s a story of discovery we first reported in Old Warriors: Four Indian Sport Scout Racing Bikes and retold by Tom Cotter in his new book, The Vincent in the Barn.

For old bike fans, Cotter’s subject matter is a natural: who hasn’t dreamed of finding some long lost gem squirreled away in a barn or garage? As collectors and old bike lovers, we keep a constant eye out for that overlooked Honda or Ducati, those abandoned motorcycles that are waiting for us to root them out and put them back on the road — or sell them for a small fortune.

Cotter revels in the collector’s lust for discovery, a subject he’s covered twice before, first in The Cobra in the Barn and then in a follow up, The Hemi in the Barn.Based on the success of those two books, Cotter decided to direct his attention to motorcycles, resulting in The Vincent in the Barn. And there is a Vincent in the barn, as readers discover, plus many more surprises as Cotter explores the stories surrounding not just found Vincents but also Indians, Harleys, Laverdas, BSAs, Ducatis and Crockers, many of them bought for the proverbial song.

The book is a compilation of tales, 40 stories of motorcycle discoveries, most written by Cotter following interviews with lucky motorcycle archeologists, and others written by names familiar to the motorcycle community (Lee Klancher, Somer Hooker and Ken Gross, to name a few) and previously published elsewhere, as with Tooth’s tale of the Indians.

Featuring a foreword by Cycle Worldeditor-in-chief David Edwards, The Vincent in the Barnis a thoroughly fun romp through a corner of the hobby most of us wish we inhabited — and swear we someday will. 256 pages, $26. Published by Motorbooks. MC

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