Barn finds: Jewels of automotive archaeology

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Imagine the excitement of unearthing a new archaeological piece or finding a hidden treasure. These discoveries are saturated with adventure and have an aura of mysticism about them.

And now picture stumbling upon a dusty 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/2, abandoned in an old garage. You have come across a ‘barn find’! Not only that, but you have also just entered a time capsule loaded with history. Congratulations!

What are barn finds?

Discovering cars in a derelict condition in time-forgotten places has been on the rise. These vehicles are called ‘barn finds’. And as you may have guessed already, the name comes from the tendency to find such jewels in places like barns.

These cars are typically covered in dust, to the point that it may be impossible to actually see the original paint. Therefore, one of the magic tricks consists of bringing the initial shine and luster back. Deterioration is especially noticeable when the car spent years outdoors.

Apart from dust, another defining characteristic of a barn find is that it has not been touched for years. And often, these hoary vehicles are found with very low mileage on them. They have been sitting in the garages or barns for years, without any maintenance. This is reflected in their perished tires, inner parts consumed by time, and rust.

What makes barn finds valuable

I have to admit that when I first heard this name, I could not imagine that these vehicles had such great value. I mean, why else their previous owners would have neglected and abandoned them for so many years?

Actually, the truth is that with time, these forgotten cars increase in value. Some of them could be sold for millions of dollars. They become a fortune either for a present owner or for a car collector. Did you know that there are even jobs such as ‘barn finds hunter’? Barn finds hunters travel around asking other people for leads towards new finds?

There are various reasons for which barn finds attract these car collectors, barn finds hunters, and other car enthusiasts like magnets. Let’s take a look at some of them.

History

As I mentioned before, a barn find represents a time capsule, where history is still preserved and becomes tangible. Moreover, each barn find has a unique story embedded in each scratch, layers of dust, ripped leather seats, or in the smell of old. Like an archeological piece, a barn find is hard evidence of the past, with so much to tell.

The beauty of vintage

Have you ever been to a store that sells vintage goods like jewelry or antique furniture? If not, you shouldn’t miss going to one. Compared to the other modern stores that sell mostly mass production merchandise, a vintage store sells only unique items.

The experience of uniqueness and the mystic element in the vintage looks is what adds value to these goods. The same principle applies to barn finds. Each car is one of a kind, and owning such a special vehicle, which comes from the past, is definitely a lifetime (and costly) experience.

Rare models

Usually, barn finds are rare not only in modern times; many models were scarce back in the past as well. I am speaking for brands such as Jaguars, Ferraris, Cobras, Cadillacs, Corvettes, Stutzes, among others.

The beginning of the 20th century was still a time when cars belonged to the richer class in society. Thus, these people were more likely to invest in the newest and the most unique models, as a sign of prestige and power. Indeed, scarcity is highly priced even today. Some things don’t easily change, do they?

Restoration possibilities

So, here we are at the point that you actually found your dream barn find. And now what do you do with it? Should you leave it as it is, without interfering with its antiquity? On the other hand, you would also like to drive it, wouldn’t you? Or at least you would like to fix a thing or two, which are at risk of falling apart.

Actually, this is the moment when the restoration dilemma comes along. And ‘balance’ is the key word in this case. The barn find should be restored to the point when it can be good to drive, or at least not get damaged, without diminishing its historical value. This means that the modern elements added to the car should be kept minimal.

The restoration should still emphasize the original features of the car. Over-restoration could lower the car’s value. Many car collectors prefer to work on cars themselves restoring vintage beauties to their former glory. Hence, in case you would like to bring a barn find back to life yourself, there are some tips that you can find in one of our previous articles.

Some of the most interesting barn finds

1966 Ferrari and 1967 Shelby Cobra under one roof

Most car enthusiasts must have heard of the Barn Find Hunter series on YouTube, run by Tom Cotter – an experienced barn finds hunter. A year ago, he got a lead regarding several cars forgotten in a garage in North Carolina. He went there to check and the dream of seeing beautiful vintage sports cars in one place became reality.

The garage had not been opened in ages, and the cars had not been maintained or moved since 1991. The vehicles belonged to Warren Cramer, a wealthy mean, living in a wealthy neighborhood, who believed that only his mechanic could be trusted with the cars. After the mechanic passed away, the cars had not been touched. Two of them, a Ferrari and a Shelby Cobra were to be sold.

The Cobra was a rare Carroll Shelby build, with19’000 miles on the odometer. “The Ferrari 275 GTB/2 somehow had fewer, with original blue vinyl seats and the odometer at just over 13,000 miles.” It was bought only for 47’000 USD in a very good condition, in the early ‘80s.

Both cars were put to auction and the Ferrari was sold for 2.3 million USD, whereas the Cobra sold for 950K USD. The Ferrari especially, turned into a fortune, selling at a price 51 times larger than the one bought. The new owners will be making all the restoration decisions.

60 rare cars on a farm in Western France

In 2014, an expert from Artcurial, one of the best French auctioneers of antiques, received a call asking to explore the residence belonging to a recently-deceased person, keeping a special focus on the outbuildings, the garage, and the barn.

As the expert later reveals, this was a discovery of a lifetime for him. There were 60 rare cars in those premises, which had not been moved for the last half a century. Thus, there were of brands like “Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Talbot-Lago, Panhard-Levassor, Maserati, Ferrari, Delahaye, Delage. Along with the famous manufacturers, many of the bodies were built by the most celebrated coachbuilders of the period, such as Million & Guiet, Frua, Chapron, and Saoutchik.”

Only two of the cars, “a Ferrari 250 GT California Spider and an extremely rare Maserati A6G 2000 Berlinetta Grand Sport Frua—were valued at an estimated $17 million”.

Shipping barn finds

barn finds

Shipping barn finds is not like shipping a regular car. Most of these vehicles are very fragile and depreciated. Many of them are non-running and cannot even move without extra help. Hence, one should be careful not to damage an important element, which, in turn, could lower the car’s value.

Before moving a barn find, it is important to inspect it first and see how easily it can be moved. The vehicle might have been in an excellent state when someone last parked it. Yet, it may not move years after. This is because, during all the time in a barn or garage, certain parts have rotten out, gotten rusty or even fallen off.

After inspection, you can decide on shipping services. Corsia Logistics offers the following :

  • Open or enclosed carrier
  • Door-to-door shipping, especially since most of the barn finds cannot move under their own power
  • Expedited car service, especially when the vehicle needs to be taken to an auction

At Corsia Logistics we have extensive experience shipping classic and vintage cars. Our logistics experts will provide you with all the necessary guidance and support throughout the process. We are aware that these cars are quite important to you and will make sure to treat your barn find with respect and attention worthy of its value.

In case you’re looking for advice on how to ship your barn find or ready to request a quote, do not hesitate to give us a call at (818) 850 5258 or chat with us online.

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About the Author:

Ina Gjika is a banker who loves to dive into philosophy and dance to the music beats. Ina also enjoys getting lost into her bookshelves and smelling freshly ground coffee, while dreaming about exploring the world. She holds two B.A majors in Business Administration and Political Science & International Relations, as well as a B.A minor in Economics.
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