Top 10 Greatest Barn Finds In The World

What we wouldn't do to stumble upon an unappreciated classic. Some people have all the luck...
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A couple of weeks ago we brought you a list of the six most expensive abandoned motors we could find. And judging by some of the comments we received, simply reading that post may’ve ruined your day. Sorry. Time again then to crack out the Kleenex, because today we’re bringing you our ten best 'barn finds'. At least these stories have a happy ending, many of the motors pictured have undergone extensive restorations.

10. 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Convertible

© Gooding & Company Image, © Gooding & Company

This Aston was first owned by Oxford University’s Sibthorpian Professor of Rural Economy, and Director of the Agricultural Research Council Unit of Experimental Agronomy, Geoffrey Blackman. And no, we don’t know what “sibthorpian” means either. Anywho, Blackman sold the DB4 in 1978, whereupon its “new” owner set about attempting to rebuild the engine. It was last MoT’d in 1979, but dry stored from that point onwards, with only 60,000 miles showing on its odometer. It was sold at auction in 2011 for £310,000.

9. Two E30 BMW M3s, Ford RS200, Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

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Swansea-based Ford enthusiast 'Mark' unearthed this enviable, immaculate quadruplet in 2009 - two delivery mileage E30 M3s, a thousand-mile Ford RS200 and an unregistered Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. In a post on a BMW forum, he says he managed to buy them after the owner - who bought the M3s for his two sons when they were kids as “investments” - decided to sell up. Mark was given first refusal on the cars after a chance meeting with the owner at the 2009 Silverstone GP. Jealous, much?

8. Three Prototype Citroen 2CVs

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That a 2CV should find itself among Aston Martins and M3s on this list is something many of you will find utterly unforgivable, but bear with us. Development of the 2CV was well underway by the time the Second World War reared its head in 1939, and Citroen’s top brass didn’t want any of their prototypes falling into the wrong hands, should the technology be used for military purposes. Many were destroyed, and until the 90s it was thought that only two had survived. These three were found in a barn in ’95 so well hidden by a team of workers, no-one knew of their existence.

7. 1935 Mercedes-Benz 550K Caracciola

Image, © Mercedes-Benz Image, © Mercedes-Benz

Thought to be one of the most historically significant cars in Mercedes’ 127 year history, the one-off 550K “Caracciola” was built for legendary race-car driver Rudolf “Caracciola” in 1935. Today, it’s rotting in a downtown LA junkyard surrounded by countless other million-dollar classics, including a Horch once owned by Hitler’s Mrs, a duo of pre-war Maybachs and a “handfull” of Lamborghini Miuras. Were it to come up for auction today, it’s thought the 500K could fetch up to $10m (£6.6m). Mercedes itself offered to restore the car for free, if the owners would simply let the carmaker display it in its museum - but the deal fell apart. So, it’s still there...

6. 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atlante

Image © Bonhams Image © Bonhams

This Bugatti sold for a little over £3m when it was put up for auction in 2009. First owned by Earl Howe - founder of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) - it was one of only 17 built by the French marque. By 1955, it had ended up in the hands of former army surgeon Dr Harold Carr. In 1960, Carr parked the Bug’ in his garage - where it remained until his death in 2007. The contents of the garage were left to his family, who had no idea the car even existed.

5. 1955 Merc 300SL Alloy Gullwing

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One of only 29 built, this ’55 300SL “Alloy Gullwing” was a graduation present, given to Californian teen Tom Wellmer by his parents. In 1971, the car’s transmission gave up the ghost, so Wellmer abandoned it in his Santa Monica garage. 20 years later, it was discovered by an enthusiast, who eventually managed to convince Wellmer to sell the car another 20 years down the line for $2.5m (£1.6m). In addition to the lighter body, Alloy Gullwings have Plexiglass windows, bigger brakes, lowered suspension, a beefed-up camshaft and special wheels. “Normal” 300SLs sell for up to £600k, but alloy-bodied cars can sell for as much as £3m.

4. 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS

After spotting a grainy photo on Tumblr, Jalopnik’s Mike Spinelli took it upon himself to discover how this Dino ended up six-feet under someone’s front garden. Allegedly, it was the victim of insurance fraud. The car was boosted under the instruction of its owner (who’d originally bought it as a present for his wife). The men he’d hired to do the deed were supposed to destroy the Dino, but they fell for it hook line and sinker, so decided to keep it for themselves. They buried it - only they never came back to dig it up. It was unearthed by a couple of kids, playing in the dirt, in 1978 - four years after it was nicked. It’s since been restored and wears the California license plate “DUGUP”.

3. 1949 Ferrari 166MM

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A US serviceman found this 166MM - one of 25 built - at a used car dealership in Switzerland. He bought it for and on the instruction of friend Reg Lee Litton, and had it shipped back to the States. Litton used the car for a while, but when it suffered an unidentified mechanical issue, he parked it in his Arizona garden, and that’s where it stayed until his death. A collector bought it in 2007 for “over $1m”, and has since learned it once raced at Le Mans, Silverstone and in the Targa Florio.

2. 1962 Ferrari 250GTO

Image via FerrariLife Image via FerrariLife

For 14 years this GTO sat “awaiting restoration” in an Ohio field. It had been bought by a man named Joe Korton in 1972. Rather than drive it, though, he left it to rot in his garden - among the long grass and allegedly surrounded by similarly collectible classics. Children used its bonnet as a slide. It was well known within the Ferrari-collecting and local community that the car was rusting away, but there was nothing anyone could do. Korton wouldn’t entertain any offers for the car, even from racing driver Innes Ireland, who’d raced the very same 250 in its heyday. The GTO was eventually sold in 1986. It was restored by a Swiss collector, with whom it remains to this day, now worth tens of milions of pounds.

1. 1964 Shelby Daytona

Image via NVSAAC Image via NVSAAC

Like the Ford GT40 (to which Shelby’s engineers were later assigned), the Daytona was specifically designed to obliterate Ferrari at any given race. For decades it was thought that only five of the six built had survived - the sixth, the original prototype, lost in translation. Then, a woman set her self alight. Literally. In her storage unit was the Daytona, and it had been there for 30 years. Her father had bought it years earlier and left it to her. Now fully restored, it’s worth over $4m (£2.6).

Any barn finds we might have missed? 


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