Barn find

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BMW Roadster from the 1930s in Stuttgart at Retro Classics 2018
Porsche 911 in Stuttgart at Retro Classics 2018

A barn find is a classic car, aircraft or motorcycle that has been rediscovered after being stored, often in derelict condition. The term comes from their tendency to be found in places such as barns, sheds, carports and outbuildings where they have been stored for many years. The term usually applies to vehicles that are rare and valuable, and which are consequently of great interest to collectors and enthusiasts despite their poor condition.

Barn finds can fetch high prices when sold. A 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS spider was sold for US$2.1 million in January 2014. The car had suffered an engine fire in 1969 and had been stored in a garage for 44 years. Despite this, it sold for more than a fully restored example sold in 2013.[1]

In the past, barn-find vehicles were typically subjected to exhaustive restoration, to return them to a condition close to that when they were built. However, the current trend is to treat the cars more sympathetically, to avoid restoration that removes evidence of the car's history and to place greater value on any original features the car retains even if they're in poor condition. In some cases, intense restoration can actually lower a car's value.[1][2]


  • In 1952, the eventual founder of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome living aviation museum, Cole Palen, had the remains of a 1910-vintage Blériot XI aircraft donated to him by one Bill Champlin of Laconia, New Hampshire - the aircraft had lain derelict in a junkyard since it allegedly crashed in an early aviation meet in Saugus, Massachusetts before World War I, with the original finder, a Prof. H.H. Coburn, having seen the derelict Blériot in a junkyard in his boyhood, eventually acquired the remains of it and ended up donating it to Mr. Champlin, who donated it to Palen for restoration: currently N60094 is the second-oldest airworthy aircraft anywhere on Earth.[3]
  • In 2014, a collection of 60 derelict cars was found at a farm in Western France. The collection included a Ferrari California Spyder, formerly owned by Alain Delon, that sold for €15.9 million when auctioned in 2015.[4] There were several Talbot Lago T26s, one of which was formerly owned by King Farouk of Egypt. Other cars were built by Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Panhard-Levassor, Delahaye and Delage.[5]
  • In 2015, five vehicles were sold that had been stored in a barn in Austin, Texas since the 1970s. These included three Cadillacs built between 1932 and 1938, a 1908 REO Model G and a 1923 Milburn Electric Model 27L.[6]
  • The Grumman F8F Bearcat fighter known as Rare Bear was discovered in a derelict state next to a runway by Lyle Shelton, who restored it to flying condition (using a large number of parts from other aircraft) and eventually modified it into a high-speed racer to compete in the Reno Air Races.


  1. ^ a b Sass, Rob (5 May 2014). "The rise of the barn-find collector car". Autoweek. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  2. ^ Keno, Leigh; Keno, Leslie (November 2010). "Restoration? Think Twice". Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Bleriot XI". Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2017. The Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome’s Bleriot XI was donated to Cole Palen in 1952 by Bill Champlin of Laconia, NH, Mr. Champlin obtained it from Professor H.H. Coburn, who as a boy had observed the aeroplane in a junkyard while bicycling to and from work each day. Coburn finally procured it and kept it stored for many years. It appears that the Bleriot had crashed at an air meet in Saugus, MA in 1910, and when received by Cole it was approximately 25% complete.
  4. ^ "Barn find Ferrari sells for $16 million". Fox News. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  5. ^ Litchfield, John (18 December 2014). "Hoard of 60 classic cars - including Alain Delon's Ferrari Spyder - discovered on French farm". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Five perfectly preserved pre-war automobiles worth $700,000 found frozen in time inside a Texas barn". Daily Mail. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.

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