Friday, June 24, 2011

Barney Pollard car collection, many were stacked on end..

excepted story from this thread about the Pollard collection:
I was going to school at GMI in Flint in 1955 and had met Mr. Pollard on the 1953 Glidden Tour. I called him and made an appointment to see his cars one Saturday, my room mate and I went down, I believe Pontiac, and he showed us through his collection. It was unbelievable. There were several buildings, one had only brass lamps in it. The cars that were stacked on end we couldn't see much, they were so tight you couldn't walk between them, but in a couple of buildings the cars were parked fender to fender and bumper to bumper. I was looking for a Peerless and he told us where it was and we had to slide down fenders and walk running boards to get back to it. He had several hundred cars and he knew where they were. He even showed us a garage that had a stack of brand new high wheel bikes, in the original crates, stacked to the ceiling. While we were walking back to his office I asked what was under the canvas covers, two American Underslunges, sitting out side. And inside his shop area were several Stutz, Mercer, etc.

Barney Pollard was my grandfather and the collection of around 1200 cars was my playground as a kid. Know most of the cars,as I personally titled 700 of them. As to the fire we lost around 110 cars in that fire which was started by a spark from a locomotive which started a grass fire and then the building went. Lost some pretty rare cars in the fire, such as the only two Olivers ever built

My grandfather did work hard at keeping the government from destroying all of the cars. My grandfather started collecting in 1938 and kept them parked about his property where he parked his trucks. In flying recon missions around Detroit the government saw what my grandfather had as a treasure trove for materials.

The government insisted he give up the cars for the war effort. My grandfather went to Washington in an attempt to make a deal with them. He bought tons of scrap (both steel and aluminum) that they had not discovered and the deal he made was to strip all of the tires and give them all of the scrap he had found and to give up one car a week that he had to deliver to the Ford Rouge plant.

He traded pound-for-pound old construction equipment with a scrap yard and ended up saving hundreds of classic cars!

My grandfather and Henry Ford were not the best of friends (due to a couple of incidents but one story as he related to the Ford writer David Lewis) as my grandfather laid miles of roadbed for the railroad tracks at the rouge and Ford sent his associate Bennett to intimidate my grandfather into taking less.

The problem is that my grandfather was the toughest man I have ever met and in some pretty colorful language I can only assume, he told Bennett to take a hike. Long story short my grandfather had many Fords in his collection and so he took over only Fords, one a week for a few weeks and then he stopped. Ford never turned him in as he figured my grandfather would only continue to bring Fords.

Then my grandfather decided he had better hide the cars from any more prying eyes so he sunk telephone poles into the ground and put 90 lb railroad rail from post to post and hung the cars from the rail with wire rope. Then he built walls around the buildings and so when you went in the buildings there were hundreds of cars hanging from their front bumpers. Crude but it saved a bunch of cars.

Among his collection, Barney Pollard also owned a New York Central steam locomotive:

Found on

For more about the collection, see the Modern Mechanix magazine article on  and the notes from his grandson who worked on the collection


  1. I stumbled on this tonight looking for something somewhat different, but I realized that I had heard about Barney Pollard nearly 40 years ago and didn't realize what it meant back then. Can't even describe how sad I am thinking about the hundreds of thousands of amazing cars, tractors and everything else lost to history in the scrap drives during World War II. Necessary? Yeah. A terrible loss? Yeah.

  2. So cool I in a much smaller way have saved so many So called Junkers from the crusher. Nothing like the rare vehicles your Grandfather saved but all the more several from the 1930-80s. I run a large rural Auto Salvage yard in Texas where our policy is if I can replace it I'll crush it and find another. The cars that we get which we don't get often they go to the back for either a project or to be a donor car for another. My daughter and I founded and launched a new company called to expand the market place for these cars and the ones that are prematurely going to the scrap iron yard. Our hope is many of these cars will at least stop and be listed on long enough for others to get the parts such as chrome glass engines axles or whatever else a person needs. We both know there are no unimportant parts when a restoration is taking place. Well thanks for the space and lets save a few together.

    1. Interesting, I posted your note and video

  3. Did he invent the car lift?