My Car Quest

September 27, 2022

The Controversy – Barn Find Original Versus Restored Classic Car

by Mike – 

1965 Shelby GT 350

1965 Shelby GT 350

Does this makes sense financially? Maybe, maybe not – only time will tell for each particular car.

Here is an example from the recent Arizona auctions.

Both cars are 1965 Shelby GT 350 Mustangs. There were only 555 1965 GT 350s made including the 34 R code (race version). There is no specification difference between these two cars. They are even the same exterior and interior color as are all 1965 GT 350s.

Restored High Quality Driver 1965 Shelby GT 350

This car was sold at RM Auctions for $198,000. I wrote before “This is a matching numbers car and the RM catalog gives the impression that this car is a strong driver that also looks great. That is the perfect GT350 to buy because you do not pay for an over restored car that you may not drive for fear of a paint chip, or dirt in the engine bay.”

I did not mention that you could buy it for about half the price of the unrestored barn find!

Shelby GT 350

Shelby GT 350

I wrote about this classic Shelby before.

Unrestored Barn Find 1965 Shelby GT 350

The second car was unrestored and in storage for about 30 years. The paint on the blue stipes was wearing off, as you can see in the first photo below, and there was rust under the hood as you can see in the second photo below.

There must have been other defects that could have been discovered during an inspection.

It was sold at Barrett Jackson for $385,000! This is almost two times the price of the restored car above.

1965 Shelby GT 350 Barn Find

1965 Shelby GT 350 Barn Find

1965 Shelby GT 350 Barn Find

1965 Shelby GT 350 Barn Find

How does the buyer justify paying such a steep premium for an unrestored barn find? I asked this same question about a Ferrari 275 GTB sold at Gooding last August in Monterey – the reader comments on this post are interesting.

I do not have any answers here – I am just asking a question that I think is interesting and may be important to classic cars buyers and sellers.

Become a Member of My Car Quest today and read it all – click the image below.

My Car Quest Membership

Barn Find Original Versus Restored Classic Cars
Article Name
Barn Find Original Versus Restored Classic Cars
The collector car world has become enamored with the classic car barn find over the last few years and now to the point where an unrestored barn find can sell for more money than a correctly restored car.


  1. Those of us that collect, restore and love to drive them have faced this question for years. In 1999 a customer who had buried his collection of rare race cars of the late 50’s-early 60’s in shipping containers on his Humboldt California property for 30 years, came to me to start restoring the cars. This was the opportunity of a life time, unfortunately I had to pass on it as I had just decided to sell off everything and retire. These cars eventually were restored and sold off. but when I saw them and the heart breaking story that went with this episode I wondered if it would have been best to sell them in their time capsule state. Fast forward to 2005 after attending a few car shows in the Atlanta area I was convinced that I could build something to put every one to shame. The opportunity that presented itself was a neighbor bought a 1956 Thunderbird that he had know since he was a boy. The car spent most of its life in a car port. The car had only 52,000 original miles and came with every piece from the order form to delivery and the car was completely unmolested except for one bad paint job done in 1985. As I discovered the layers of originality I decided we needed to do a preservation not a restoration. But I wanted to knock everyone’s socks off when they would see it, and compete heads up with completely restored cars. It has won best in show almost every time. The enclosed video is the day we rolled it out of the barn. Yes we live on a golf course.

    • Doctor – that is a beautiful car – I love the color. I think the decision to preserve or restore can be difficult in many cases. It looks like you made the right choice.

Speak Your Mind