Barn finds are the nickname given to a certain scenario, where a classic car is discovered rusting away in a barn and the right person can restore it to a thing of automotive beauty. Some are financially great finds, but others are money pits, so one has to be slightly cautious diving into one.
$266k Lancia among priciest barn finds
According to CNN, a 1956 Lancia Aurelia roadster was recently sold at auction by Gooding and Co., for the princely sum of $266,000. Ordinarily, a classic roadster going for that much wouldn’t exactly be news, but the interesting thing about this instance is that the car sat in storage from 1968 until it was unearthed not too long ago.
It hasn’t been restored or improved in any way, though for sitting in a garage for more than 40 years, it isn’t in bad shape. It doesn’t even run, though a Lancia not running is really a fact of life.
Instead, it is “preserved” in it’s natural state, dust and all. Some people are doing this with “barn finds,” as they are often called, as some cars in a natural state of decay are oddly worth more un-restored.
The crazy world of barn finds
“Barn finds” is a blanket term for a common scenario. An old car, either running or nearly completely rusted away, is found in a barn or garage and is recognized as a classic or having potential. Someone buys it and has it hauled off for a restoration or parts it out.
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Sometimes, a barn find is of a very rare and very valuable car; the restoration can pay for itself, if sold at auction. For instance, a page of barn finds on Motor Trend’s website includes a Volkswagen Microbus, a couple of old Cadillacs and a couple of Lincoln Continentals, not exceedingly rare, but also a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette, a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, a 1958 BMW 503, and a 1965 Aston Martin DB5.
Here in the U.S., it’s a bit more common to find classic muscle cars, hiding under a bucket of rust. However, be cautious of diving in, as there are pitfalls aplenty.
One needs money and time
Unless a person has deep enough pockets to just ship it off somewhere and have it done, it’s going to be expensive. It is also going to take a long time; there is no such thing as a bank loan for car restoration, unless one runs a hot rod shop. One has to come up with the cash for each new part or restorative repair, such as fixing rust or body panels.
One also has to have some automotive know-how and have access to the necessary tools, or know someone who does.
Parts are another matter entirely. Major car companies often have a classic parts division, as Ford and GM, for example, both have a restoration parts division or agreements with manufacturers who make the parts to OEM specification. The person who found the Gullwing is in luck since, according to Popular Mechanics, Mercedes-Benz still makes parts for every car they’ve ever made, though they aren’t cheap. If it isn’t for sale, it should probably be a car one has a passion for, as not everyone will make money from restoring a barn find.