My Car Quest

May 27, 2024

Confessions of a Barn Finder: Adventures in (Almost) Paradise

by Wallace Wyss –

So when I was a kid I liked this TV series called Adventures in Paradise. I can’t remember much about it except it involved a big schooner, and a studly-looking actor named Gardner McKay.

Flash forward about 20 years and I’m in Hollywood working for a car magazine. I met this roustabout named Ed Durston who sometimes worked for a former cinema photographer who bought and sold vintage Rolls Royces.

Well, one day Ed urges me to go up to Bel Air, which is a lofty neighborhood fancier than Beverly Hills, and see if this old Rolls Royce is still in the garage of Mr. McKay who had gone on to many different roles.

I went up there and saw the car in an open garage. A somewhat ratty Silver Could I or II with bad paint. I didn’t look close but I heard that he had a habit of driving around with jungle cats in the car and they would amuse themselves by chewing on the Connolly hide. He got into trouble eventually when his big cats feasted on a visitor!

Gardner McKay and his dog, Pussycat.

Gardner McKay and his dog, Pussycat, driving around in what looks like Bel Air in a Chevy Impala. Photo: Vogue

There were also two ratty Facel Vega coupes, French cars with Chrysler V8 engines. I opened the mailbox to put in a note I’d planned to give him, offering $12,000 for the car. In those days the early ’70s they already went for $25K. But when I opened the mailbox I saw a envelope in there already, from Charles Crail, a Rolls Royce and Bentley classic car dealer and perhaps not coincidentally Ed’s boss.

I held it up to the light. He was offering something like $16,000. I had a moment of pause. I could take that letter and just return it to the mailbox after McKay answered my note. On the other hand I’m sure that, in doing so, I would be breaking some Federal Law. Interfering with the mail and all that.

So I put my note in there along with Charlie’s letter. Of course Charles got the car, one of perhaps 100 he has owned in the decades since.

I often wondered about that. Today there’s cameras everywhere so it probably would be recorded, me taking that letter. Or fingerprints would be found. But back then things were loose and easy, I coulda done it and got away with it.

So it was. Coulda changed me life, that car. I was a barn finder, but not a premier one….

Almost made it to Paradise….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a fine artist depicting the classics of the last half century.

 
 
 
 
 
 

McKay with Joan Collins. Photo- Darlene Hammond : Hulton Archive : Getty Images

McKay with Joan Collins in their Paradise. Photo- Darlene Hammond : Hulton Archive : Getty Images

Summary
Confessions of a Barn Finder: Adventures in (Almost) Paradise
Article Name
Confessions of a Barn Finder: Adventures in (Almost) Paradise
Description
One day Ed Durston urges me to go up to Bel Air, which is a lofty neighborhood fancier than Beverly Hills, and see if this old Rolls Royce is still in the garage of Gardner McKay, the Hollywood actor.

Comments

  1. Karma Kramer !

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