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Barn Find, not mine, but a good one!

This is a barn find that I wrote about a couple of years ago, that never got published.

Here is the story:

All cars have a story, but then most people who have been into cars for 60 years have a story also. Raymond Milo is no exception, his car story began in 1946 but his life story began long before that and is equally interesting.
Many people can tell you stories about how they made it through World War II, but most men can’t say they made it through WWII in a dress. Raymond is no cross-dresser; he dressed as a girl in order to survive. You see, his father held a high rank in the guerilla movement that was fighting the Nazis. The Gestapo placed a price on young Raymond’s head, since he was the only male child of the family. Well, Momma Milo had something to say about that, and dressed her only son as a daughter, thereby saving his life.

After the war Raymond spent some time in France studying at The Sorbonne, but felt the call to go try his hand in America. He enrolled at the University of Illinois and his love affair with cars began.
“I saw my first race in 1946, and was hooked,” remembers Raymond. “While at U of I, I raced with extremely modest success a Morgan and an Elva.”
He raced after college but quickly learned that you either have it in you, or you don’t.
“Upon graduation, I got a job at Douglas Aerospace division, and continued
to race in Cal Club which regrettably joined the SCCA,” explains the racer. “Lotus 20FJ, Barabham BT21, Morgan, Cobra 289….and by mid-sixties I realized that I not only lucked money and talent, but also a desire to race.”
He then moved from racing fast cars to just enjoying them. This hobby quickly turned to a small moneymaker. Raymond recalls,
“I was involved through my fried Lou Spenser on the periphery of
Shelby’s organization, and had a very favorable price for 289 cars,
and other Shelby’s products. The aerospace engineer’s salary was
about 10 grand a year, so I supplemented my need for fast cars (in
California you are what you drive) by buying Shelby’s factory cars at
the end of season for 2 grand a piece, and selling them for 3,5-3,75K
to college kids with wealthy parents. By 66 Shelby had sold to Ford,
but I discovered that I had a talent to find a slightly used super car,
drive it for less then a year, and find someone willing to pay me
more then what I paid for the car.”
Once he had the knack for finding and selling cars, Raymond moved beyond Fords. Mr. Milo is able to recall the history of his life based on what he was driving at the time.
“I went through my Ferrari phase (TDF, SWB Berlinetta, both Cal. Spyders, and several 275’s). I was a good friend with Chick Vanerfriff (Hollywood Sports Car, Ferrari dealer), knew Otto Zipper well (he even talked me into buying a
Miura—-which was a horrible car to drive-so graciously he took it
back). In 66 I had a brief interlude with Porsches: an early 911
(with triple Solexes which I finally got to run right after taking it
to Roger Bursh in Pasadena), then an early 911S w/sunroof (great
car), found out that a 911R was not very drivable in SoCal, and went
back to Ferrari. Those were much simpler times; my Hollywood Hills
house cost me 37.5K or $115 a month including taxes and insurance. I
was able to buy for 6 grand an almost brand new 275GTB4, which no one
wanted….because it had alloy body….and at the time there was one
shop, maybe two that would work on alloy body. That was followed by
three Daytonas (brand new $16,250 European delivery). I knew Chinetti
well, and he introduced me to Dott. Manicardi and Ing. Florini
(customer racing). I left Douglas (long story) in 69, got married in
73 (I think) and went on my honey moon to pick up a very special
Daytona (#16495), which was built for me as a copy of Tour de France
Daytona….in which we spent our honeymoon. I also got an early used
but practically new 6.3 AMG which was by far the very best 4 door
sedan ever. You could cruise from Paris to Monte Carlo all day long at
220km on the clock in perfect comfort. In 75 (yes, it was a long
honeymoon) we came back to LA, by 78 I was divorced (local custom you
know) and lost my beloved Daytona. By 82 I was back on my feet, and
am ashamed to say went through Several Silver Spirits and
Spurs—–which were brand new—and the worst cars I ever drove.”
Since then Raymond Milo has done cars and even contributes articles for publications like Sports Car Market Magazine. It was while getting ready to fly to the East Coast for a party that the phone rang and Porsches once again entered his life, Porsches 356s that is.
“Just as I was getting ready to fly to Lynchburg, VA. to attend the Memorial
Day party at my friend Mark Smith’s mansion, my friend Archie Oglesby
called to tell me that he has just moved from Greenville to Lynchburg and
was getting ready to open his dealership/restoration place near by. He also
told me that someone has pointed him to a hoard of 10 barn Porsches, that
he could buy. Archie’s specialty are British cars, and I usually dable in
obscure French and Italian cars, and my big ‘expertise’ in Porsches is
microscopic. (Yes, I bought a few important cars few years back, like
America Roadster, 904, Carrera Abarth, a 911R…..not to mention two
Denzels….yes I know they are Austrians….but I am really quite ignorant
when it comes to 356s). But Archie mentioned a speedster, a pre A coupe,
and before he finished I said “let’s buy them”. The next morning I wired my
half, and we owned the 10 barn cars, and a truckload of parts.”
The story behind how the cars became available is a sad one.
“The story told to Archie goes something like this: A Porsche mechanic started buying the cars in the late sixties/early seventies to restore them when he
retires,” tells Raymond. “He also bought new and old parts that in his judgment were needed. In December of last year the mechanic retired. In January of this year his roof sprang a leak, and being handy he took a step ladder and climbed up. You can imagine the rest…”
Enter Archie and Raymond. The cars were pretty much what the guys expected, but there were a few surprises. Milo tells it,
“Archie bought the cars from the widow. When I arrived to Classic Car Emporium in Madison Heights, on sunny Thursday morning the place was freshly redone and looked absolutely immaculate….two E-types with Pebble quality nut and bolt do…..and ten barn Porsches. The contrast between the immaculate place, freshly painted and gilded for impending opening, two perfect E-types and the bunch of barn 356s with a lone 912. By nature I do not look at details, and I have already described my ‘expertise’ in Porsches…..we have all seen the barn cars……but these were unique. Each one had in its trunk a perfect rats nest…neatly built from some kind of mattress stuffing. Some were really big, some were small….but each car had one in the middle of the trunk. I
was overwhelmed.”
It was also an eye-opening day in terms of cars seen for the first time.
“For the first time in my life I saw a Karmann coupe, standing next to a 356A Cab. with factory ‘hard top only’ option….they looked almost identical.”
Another first for Raymond was a good old fashioned barn cleaning.
“Saturday was the big day; we were going to the barn to retrieve the parts,” describes Raymond. “It was my first, since there are no barns in
Southern California. The parts armada consisted of my rent a car, Archie’s
wife’s SUV and you guessed it an 18″ U-Haul truck. For the better part of a
long afternoon the five of us (Archie was smart, and brought two young
burly friends) toiled in worm humid mosquito infested meadow, bringing
boxes and boxes, floor pans and windshields, spare wheels and
longitudinals, crankcases and God knows what else. Dust and spider webs,
few snake skins, periodical visits by large menacing wasps, not so
periodical visits by hungry mosquitoes and finally the barn was empty. The
sun was setting, we were all dirty, tired and hungry but elated. The truck
was almost full to the roof, Brenda’s SUV had at least half a dozen
windshields, plus some other small boxes. The trunk of my rent-a rice
burner had some small boxes, and I drove in the back of the convoy to
Archie’s place. I honestly can’t tell you what we had….boxes of Blaupunkt and Telefunken radios, floor pans, wheels all of them with dates…some 16″…some parts were in Stoddard’s boxes….some looked very used.”
From here the barn party moved to the actual party. Remember the party that Raymond was getting ready for?
“We barely made it to Mark Smiths palatial estate for a very elegant and exquisitely catered party,” recalls Raymond. “After a few glasses of
Champaign a funny thought occurred to me; it goes something like this: the
dog is chasing a car; what does the dog do, when he catches it? What I mean
to say is that neither Archie nor I can tell the difference between a
speedster pan and a 912’s. Archie is one of those people who can look at
an intake manifold with triple SU’s and tell at the glance if it is for an
150S or an early E-type. I, being an intellectual with zero knowledge of
parts, on a good day can tell the difference between sand cast Webers and a
Spanish die cast reproduction….in short I hope you get our dilemma.”
Since neither man was really sure what they had and what they were missing they did the best thing to do under the circumstances, picked a price for someone to take the whole lot. Milo explains,
“We both buy and sell cars for a living….we know that sold individually…the
ten cars will bring more money. We also believe that there are parts needed
to rebuild each and every car….but which parts go to which car is the
question….that at this moment we don’t even want to contemplate. So, at
least for the time being, we are trying to sell everything as a lot.”
Someone will get these cars and really know what they are looking at, then the real money will be made. An interesting car aficionado who just happened to be at the right place at the right time to take a journey into our world of the Porsche 356.



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3 Responses

  1. joseluisbelmar says:

    This is really a beautiful and interesting blog. No wonder it is becoming a top 10. Congratulations.
    José Luis Belmar

  2. noactive says:

    Barn Find, not mine, but a good one! .Thanks for nice post.I added to my twitter.

  3. Kenn Sakurai says:

    I’m a Japanese and met Raymond in the early 90s. He had his office on Melrose and then I started call him “dad” as the joke and dad took me anywhere and introduced to all the people he knows because I was the automotive writer back then. I stayed at his house on Hollywood next to his Ridgeback dogs (huge and somehow liked me a lot.) He was such a character. Every time I arrive LAX with the first international flight to arrive (Korean Air) and I call Raymond. The answer was the same all the time. “See you at the Denny’s at lunch time about 1:00PM.”
    Denny’s doesn’t mean the real Denny’s coffee shop. It meant the Moustache Cafe on Melrose right across the street from his office and it was the French restaurant owned by his friend and all the waiters and waitresses look gorgeous (the future stars) and you could see film producers, directors, agents and people from the studio there all the time.
    Raymond was always there with the cigar or the cigarillo on his hand and I brought him the Havana cigars smuggled from Tokyo and that was the deal for the lunch, and almost anything he will be doing for me during the trip.
    I didn’t know that he was passed away and so that was a big shock. RIP Raymond. I thank you everything you had done for me including getting us the nice room in Monterey during the Pebble Beach weekends and letting me bid on the cars on behalf of him at the auctions. That was a big fun.
    Also I thank you for the blog. I enjoyed reading very much.

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