Friday, August 3, 2007

Barn Finds, a modest proposal

I walked into work today; on the way I came up with this idea for a reality show for Discovery/The Learning Channel. I wrote up this treatment, registered it with the Writer's Guild and submitted it at lunch. I've always been sorry we didn't develop Welcome to Reality further; we could have been Mythbusters.

AUTHOR: David Traver Adolphus

TILE: Barn Finds: Uncovering America’s Lost Cars

LOGLINE: BARN FINDS takes the reality car show on the road, mixing in small-town Americana with humor. The BARN FINDS team visits a new town each week, tracking down legends of forgotten and lost cars. It's every car lover's dream, and they get to live it every week when we open the doors at the end of the show.

A reality-based television show aimed at the heart of America’s millions of car nuts.

Writers Guild of America registration # 1218902


BARN FINDS: Uncovering America’s Lost Cars


Every town has its secrets; every town has its legends and treasures, forgotten behind locked doors. It’s our job to open them.


A pair of wisecracking but sympathetic presenters travel from town to town, exploring the truth behind the universal legend of the BARN FIND car


BARN FINDS is a combination of urban folklore, humor and mystery with a dose of history. We track down stories about lost cars and uncover the truth. Each show begins in the BARN FINDS HQ—garage-style—with a viewer letter to set up that week’s episode. “In 1971, Jimmy Cummerbund bought a new Hemi ‘Cuda, but only drove it for two weeks before he lost his license. He stored it somewhere in town, and was called up to serve in Vietnam before he got his license back. He never came back from ‘Nam, and the car was never seen again.”

The BARN FINDS team looks into the background of the story, talks a little about the car (“Well, if it’s true, that’s a $2 million car today, they only made seven with a four speed…), and takes BARN FINDS on the road to the location, in their distinctive trademark vehicle.

On location, BARN FINDS mixes in local color as we track down the car. Every episode ends with a REVEAL, where we end up at the car’s location, or as close as we can come. Suitable for either 1/2-hour or one-hour format.


As a full-time professional automotive journalist and photographer, I see an amazing variety of American classics, sports cars and muscle cars every day. But more than that, I hear amazing rumors. When you’re traveling with a car guy who’s been in the same location for a while, as you drive around scouting for photography locations, they’ll start a little travelogue. “That’s old man Johnson’s house—there’s a Cadillac in that shed, it’s been there for year. Out behind that house, there’s an old Mercedes under a tarp. See that garage? There’s been a Packard in there for 40 years…”

It’s easy to dismiss all this as rumor, but I’ve seen the truth. I’ve seen a $5 million Mille Miglia-winning Ferrari come out of a barn in New Hampshire after 40 years, an original V-12 Duesenberg from 50 years of storage in downtown Boston, a Shelby Cobra roll after being forgotten for decades. This spring, I was in northern Vermont for a photoshoot, and the car owner pointed to a blue tarp, covered with weeds, in a run-down farmyard. “See that?” he asked. “There’s a Stutz Bearcat under that.”

The idea of a barn find—a car that’s been lost, forgotten or overlooked—is one the most exciting things for any of Americas countless millions of car nuts. This spring, Christie’s sold a 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante coupe after 45 in a barn for $852,500. There isn’t a car nut alive who doesn’t dream about finding a forgotten car; BARN FINDS is how they live those dreams.


CLOSEUP on faces of shock and awe. “Oh…my…God!” says one, as whistles and murmurs are heard in the background.

TITLE: Barn Finds: Uncovering America’s Lost Cars
Wednesdays at 9

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