- Sep 6, 2016
Top automotive barn finds in recent history
What goes in the barn, stays in the barn... until it's discovered
It's every classic auto enthusiast's dream. You go poking around someone's barn or garage, pull back a tarp or move some boxes, and there it is. It's dusty and clearly in need of some TLC, but you squint your eyes, tilt your head, and focus in on one or two details that tell you what you're looking at. It's some classic set of wheels, forgotten for decades, just waiting all this time to be rediscovered and put back on the road where it belongs.
It's called a Barn Find, regardless of the kind of structure in which it's actually found. It's the car collector's equivalent to the archaeologist unearthing some ancient crypt, or the explorer finding some piece of land never put on any map. And it seems to be happening a lot lately.
The past few years alone have uncovered everything from classic American muscle to vintage European exotics that time forgot. So lest we forget them again, we've put together some of the most notable barn finds discovered since the start of this decade into one slideshow where you can scope them all out in all their deeply patinated splendor.
The Baillon Collection
The single most outstanding barn find of our time was arguably the Baillon collection. It was assembled by one Roger Baillon, head of a French transport company, who put them in a series of sheds on his property in western France in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, and left them there for the decades since. The collection included Bugattis, Ferraris, Maseratis, Hispano-Suizas, and more, in various states of disrepair.
The Baillon collection was found just a couple of years ago and consigned to French auction house Artcurial, which sold dozens of them early last year. Most notable were the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider that sold for a record $18.5 million, a '56 Maserati A6G that went for $2.2 million, and a '49 Talbot-Lago T26 that fetched $1.9 million – all well above their pre-sale estimates and contributing to an overall take of $28.5 million.
Research the Maserati
What the Baillon collection offered in quality, the Lambrecht collection had in quantity. It started in 1958 when Ray Lambrecht was left with new cars from the previous model year at his Chevy dealership in Nebraska. Rather than sell them at a discount, he put them in storage in the hope that they'd appreciate in value.
By the time Lambrecht closed his showroom in 1996, he had amassed some 500 cars of varying vintage but in new condition. There were too many to move, so when they finally went up for auction in 2013, some 15,000 people descended on the small town of Pierce, NE, and its 1,800 residents. A '58 Cameo pickup with 1.3 miles on the odometer sold for $140,000, a '64 Impala (11 miles) went for $97,500, and a '78 Corvette (4 miles) for $80,000 – contributing to $2.8 million in sales.
Research the Chevrolet
The Condo-Find Daytona
Not all barn finds have been found in actual barns. This one, for example, was found in the parking garage of a condo building in Toronto.
A Canadian businessman picked up this Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona from the factory in 1971 after seeing one at the Geneva Motor Show only months prior. He paid $18,000 for it, drove it around Europe for a month, then brought it back home with him on board the QE2, driving it for the next 18 years and putting 56,000 miles on the clock.
But then he went on an extended trip to Asia, parked it in the garage of his condominium building, put a cover over it, and never moved it again. Not until consigning it in November of 2014 to RM Auctions, which sold as part of its Amelia Island auction in March of last year – 44 years since its purchase – for a massive $770,000.
Research the Ferrari
A Very Different Daytona in Alabama
A classic example of a barn find if we've ever seen one, this rare 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was discovered in an actual barn, on a farm, in Glenwood, AL. Similar in style to the Plymouth Superbird that followed, for homologation purposes Dodge only made 560 of these odd-looking beasts, of which only 385 units are thought to still be in existence.
Pristine examples are known to sell for hundreds of thousands, so Mecum Auctions figured this old beater would still be worth a good $150-180k. But when the gavel dropped earlier this year in Kissimmee, FL, it sold for just $90k. That's still a fair bit more than you can spend on a new Charger, even in top-of-the-line SRT Hellcat trim.
Research the Dodge Charger
Rusty Germans in South Central LA
This last barn find wasn't found in a barn at all. Like the “condo-find” Ferrari, this one was right in the heart of the city, and included a staggering array of European machinery – mostly from Germany.
In the scrap yard out back behind Porche (sic) Foreign Auto on South Alameda Street in Los Angeles, Town & Country magazine discovered, in various states of repair, dozens of Porsche 911s, a handful of Lamborghini Miuras, a rare Horch roadster once owned by Eva Braun, and most notably, a rather unique Mercedes. The 500K of 1935 vintage was built specially for Benz's legendary Silver Arrow grand prix racer Rudolf Caracciola, and was estimated to be worth eight figures.