What’s The Attraction Of a Barn Find?

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The first few times I heard about a “barn find”, it was a case of someone finding something highly desirable that had been stored for years, with the owner of the barn generally not really knowing the real value of what they had. Sometimes the barn owner didn’t even know the car was there (if you believe all the stories).

In other words, the Barn Find story was as much about the fortunate nature of the transaction as it was about finding an old car that had been reasonably preserved.

That’s the way I look at it, anyway.

FordGT40barnfindRoad and Track reported on a “barn find” today. It’s the story of a genuine Ford GT40 that hasn’t been driven since 1977.

Here’s the rub:

Shaughnessy said that after a year-long bidding war, he recently took possession of GT40 CSX1067 from its previous owner, a retired fire fighter who owned the car since 1975. According to The Gentleman Racer, the GT40 sat idle since 1977 due to engine troubles, and health problems prevented that owner from getting too far into the necessary repairs.

When we asked what Shaughnessy paid for the car, he would only concede that it was “very expensive.”

Now, I think it’s great that a genuine hero car of a bygone era might be made to run again. That’s fantastic. But it lacks the magic of a real barn find story to me. If it was picked up for $10K the buyer knew what it was and seller didn’t, then that’s a little bit of magic (unless you’re the seller, of course).

This story, aside from the potential resurrection of a once-great car, is just an old car in poor condition being bought for a bucket load of money.

If you were inclined to be a little more cruel, you could say that the former owner has profited from his base-level neglect of a car that he should have looked after (and as far as I’m concerned, the more prominent the car, the greater the responsibility to be a conscientious owner).

What do you reckon? I concede that I may have the barn find thing all wrong, but if that’s the case then it takes the lustre off the whole scenario for me, personally.

Although it was ‘expensive’, I hope it was bought at a significant discount to what someone would pay for a similar car in good condition. That wasn’t the case for the Mercedes gullwing sold recently, though I’m a bit less conflicted about that one.

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10 Comments

  1. I spent some summers as a kid with cousins who farmed (and thus had barns). Almost everybody had some old machines stored away, and I always tried to sneak a peek when visiting neighbours. No GT40s, of course, but lots of vintage Detroit stuff, old snow mobiles, farm equipment (obviously). One nearby lean-to held a broken dune buggy which was perfect for imaginary driving.

    I’m not surprised that barn “finds” are a thing. On the plus side, these cars have been kept dry, and potentially rodent-free (barn cats are also a thing). One the minus side, they were put-away for a reason. I think a well-maintained, running car is worth more of a premium than a barn find would be.

  2. I’ve always dreamed of finding a 50+ year old, rust-free barn gem, but that will always just be a dream. At my age, I’m worried that my collection of non-running cars will soon become someone else’s “barn find”. 🙁

  3. Interesting, though, that the car has what seems to be the intake scoops of the later, big block Mark II version and has the name Salt Walther on the door. Walther was an Indy car racer in the ’70’s, best known for surviving a horrific crash in the early stages of the ’73 race. He led a rough life marked by painkiller addiction, several jail terms, and a period as a fugitive. He died in 2012.

  4. Going through some old warehouse the other day I found 2 rear Saab 9000 [1986/7] door cards Complete with wood caps, yea the original wood veneer one’s – Not in pristine condition, but must be sort after by someone somewhere.

    Actually have a complete set of 4 original wood veneer one’s in another garage,just need to find them!!

    1. Wow. Hadn’t seen that. The little red Alfa sedan looks delicious.

      But…..

      What sort of tight-arse do you have to be to do an ad like that? You’re sitting on maybe $50,000+ worth of cars and you can’t pay for a decent quality ad somewhere? You can’t take some decent quality photos of the cars?

      I hope the cars are going cheap because the ad certainly looks cheap. He doesn’t deserve good prices for those cars (and some would be worth a bit) giving them an ad like that.

      Can you tell I get antsy when people don’t put effort into their ads? 🙂

  5. Looks like they were taken on a phone, creating that certain ambience you get when the incoming sunlight plays havoc with the poor little CMOS behind the 1.5mm lens. Love Fiats but the ‘left-overs’ in the collection are pretty ordinary. The white130 coupe was interesting. Ferrari engined I think.

  6. I’m with you, Swade. A car in poor condition is a car in poor condition unless there is some unknown element or provenance that creates a story. With this one, it sounds as if it could be ownership by the above mentioned Indy driver. Of course, that it’s a GT40 is noteworthy alone.

    The ‘air box’ Corvette is a barn find. Your uncle’s old Corvette parked in the back since he blew the engine in 1969 is notable only because the odometer stopped turning 40+ years ago.

  7. Me and my sister once found a Chvrolet Corvair Monza in an actual barn close to home (northern Sweden!) sometime in the early 80’s. It was missing the engine, but otherwise looked to be in pretty good order.
    Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the owner, which was a bit peculiar as the car was found at a neighbour’s. But he was old and hospitalised and noone using the barn seemed to know anything about the car.
    And suddenly the car was gone and we thought that the owner had claimed it.
    But that was not the case. Imagine my thoughts when I found it, six months later, in early winter. Somebody had just taken the car and put it away on a small disused field up in the woods. And now it was smashed beyond repair by houligans. All windows broken, hood and roof jumped upon, doors hanging and the interior broken.
    All barn finds don’t end up a happy story.

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