What does the word survivor mean to you when you are talking about cars? For most of us, it means a nearly all original car as the factory built it. It has not had a repaint nor has the interior been redone. Some folks seem to confuse “original” with a survivor. I have been told many times that “this car is all original”, which likely means it has had a repaint in the original color and it has a new interior matching what the factory did. It also means the car likely has many “original” reproduction parts on it.
For those of us who own a real survivor, this confusion with an all original car is a little disturbing. The terms may be interchangeable but clarification is needed to ensure the car is a real survivor. Such a survivor has not been repainted, has not been reupholstered and the engine and other major components have not been replaced or rebuilt. Some minor allowances can usually be made but, in general, the car and the majority of its parts are the same as what left the factory
Now, let me ask you when is a survivor, not a survivor? I would offer that regardless of its restoration or originality, whether the car has been restored or modified if it has survived some major potentially devastating occurrence it may be a survivor. The car shown here is exactly that. It was likely driven hard and put away wet more than once. It has obviously been repainted and otherwise had a not so sympathetic restoration. So why is it a survivor? Because it survived a tornado when other cars in the same structure did not!
Four years ago after a driver quality restoration, this Dan Gurney Spoiler was parked in a barn with expectations of again being on the road in a few months. Unfortunately, Covid 19 happened and it set far longer than expected. Then, the next disaster hit, an Alabama tornado completely destroyed the barn it was housed in. Although other cars in the barn were crushed the Gurney survived with only a couple of minor superficial scratches. The remaining structure around the car was so precarious that entering the barn was not recommended. In fact, the day before these pictures were taken and the car removed portions of the barn were still falling in! We could not enter the structure without signing a waiver for insurance purposes. We refused to enter the building and requested the owner have the car extracted before we would visually inspect it and take it home for a more complete inspection.
This is what greeted us as we approached the barn. At this point, we had no idea where the car had been in residence for the past four years. As we walked around the remains of the barn I was very skeptical that anything could be worth taking home.
This was the first vehicle we spotted as we continued our search for the “survivor” Dan Gurney.
This Cadilac limousine did not do too well either. I am not sure this car will ever be saved. Any movement of it or the structures around it could result in a complete collapse.
We were told this is where the car was stored. It had been removed by this time but I have no idea how.
If you look carefully down the aisle you can spot the remains of the Cadilac. The Gurney was stored down this aisle but parked 90 degrees to it in a narrow stall. By the time we arrived on site, the Gurney had been carefully extracted and power washed to remove mold, dust, and debris.
The Spoiler is certainly a 20-footer at this point. There was no visible damage of any significance but mold, dirt, and dust were found throughout the car including the interior and engine compartment. Our first impression was that the car was well worth saving. It is an “S” code 390 with a C6 transmission, factory air, and Black Bucket Seat interior. PS and PB are also present.
We have the car back in our garage and are beginning to do a deep dive into its real condition. More on this in the future.