I often find myself driving through rural Ohio and wondering what is hiding, purposefully or not, behind the rotted walls of centuries old barns in the countryside. There are surely stories those structures could tell and who knows what treasures that might lie within — most with more value of sentiment than monetary.
But never judge a barn by its cover. That is a lesson that I recently learned in northwest Ohio as I made my way to a crop insurance meeting in early February.
That is where a found an incredible collection of vintage International cars and trucks in a newer 100 by 160 barn, owned by Rich Kleinoeder.
“I became friends with an International dealer and we started with one truck that we paid $1,000 for,” Kleinoeder said. “We have a hard time selling anything because we become attached to what we have bought over the years. They’re like our kids now.”
The 60-car collection spans from the first International cars made in 1908 to the manufacturer’s last efforts with trucks in 1980. Now, they are all tucked away in a barn made just for them, with heated floors included for preservation.
Among the relics is Kleinoeder’s pride and joy — an International Brass car.
“This is one of only six left in the United States,” Kleinoeder said. “It was International’s last attempt to take the car market away from Henry Ford in the early 1900s. It was a little too fancy and a little too pricey, so they didn’t sell very well and International pointed their efforts to trucks after that.”
There are even some movie stars in the group.
“We have an International Metro truck that we took down to the Mansfield state prison and it was used in the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’” Kleinoeder said. “Every once in a while the movie studios will call looking to use something we have here and we try to fit their bill.”
The barn is almost to capacity, but that isn’t stopping Kleinoeder from adding to his rare assortment, although he is getting to be a little more picky.
“We try to steer clear of pickups from the 50s and 60s because they have hydraulic brakes and they are not the easiest to work on,” Kleinoeder said. “Back in the teens the brakes were mechanical the trucks ran on a basic two-cylinder motor, so those are the ones we are looking for these days.”
It truly was like stepping back in time and wondering, like I do with old barns, what great stories these machines had to tell. Thanks to this carefully maintained assortment of International vehicles in a 16,000 square foot time capsule, their stories continue.