My Car Quest

June 29, 2022

Are We Running Out Of Barn Finds?

by Mike Gulett –

There is a limited supply of barn find collector cars – there were only so many cars ever made, a small subset of those cars are classic collector cars, a very small subset of those are in a position to be a real barn find and collectors continue to uncover barn finds every year – we must be running low. Don’t you think?

Where do barn finds come from?

One cannot create a barn find out of thin air nor turn just any car into a barn find. A true barn find had to be abandoned decades ago. They need many years of aging to develop the proper patina much like how it takes 16 years to age 16 year old Scotch Whiskey. It cannot be rushed along.

Barn find

The evidence for the shortage of barn finds includes my review of the cars up for auction in recent auctions (including on-line auctions) and my conclusion that there are not many dirty, rusty barn finds as far as I can tell. I know this is a limited sample size but in my heart I believe we must be running low of good quality true barn finds. After all there are only so many in existence. I know not everyone agrees with me about the shortage of barn finds.

I include a garage find in the generic category of barn find since every hoarder of classic cars who put them away a few decades ago and forgot about them did not own a barn but merely an ordinary garage, or a shed or just a back yard.

Some of these hoarders did not bother to put the future classic car in a barn or garage but left them in an open field. This is certainly the cheapest way to store a classic car waiting for a future restoration, or waiting to be discovered, because that field out behind the barn can hold dozens of cars, or hundreds of cars, plus trucks, tractors, engine blocks and all the parts one could want.

Barn find

All barn finds are not created equal. Some are not especially desirable or valuable cars so the cost of a restoration would be a financially losing proposition. Some barn finds, especially the ones in the field, may be beyond saving and will ultimately be left to return to dust – some are nearly there. Some are only worth what would be paid for scrap car prices.

As the barn find numbers dwindle the excitement over the new ones discovered will intensify. And the prices will go up – like all things in the classic car world.

Below is a slide show with some of my barn find photos.

What do you think? Are we running low on barn finds?

Jaguar XKE barn find

A sign identifies this Jaguar XKE as a true barn find

Jaguar XKE barn find

Jaguar XKE Interior – Needs To Be Cleaned Up

Porsche barn find

A neglected Porsche 356

A version of this article was first posted in February 2014. All photos by Mike Gulett
Summary
Are We Running Out Of Barn Finds?
Article Name
Are We Running Out Of Barn Finds?
Description
The supply of classic car barn finds must be running low don't you think?
Author

Comments

  1. It’s heart-breaking to see beautiful old cars like this left out to rot.
    I run a scrap yard and see some sad sights including neglected motors. We salvage what we can of course, but your heart does sink a bit when you see a once beautiful vehicle that’s not been stored away for a sunnier day but instead left out to bake and disintegrate in the sun. 0044 1204 360 555
    http://www.metrosalvage.co.uk

  2. Derk Reckel says

    If there is a market for “barn finding” you will soon get the proper patina recipes sold in the corresponding circles.

    This has been around since the late 19th century for faking patina on Egyptian antiques and if there is money in it you will see someone making this money!

    Take a scrappy driver and put some barn patina on it to increase the value…

    Bye,
    Derk

  3. lennox mcneely says

    Don’t give up yet –a new History Channel show on Thursdays –Lost Car Rescue–about cars left along the Alaska Highway in British Columbia–first shows big find was a Cord–a group of knowledgeable young men and women

    cheers Lennox

  4. I don’t think we’re running low I think there’s still a lot of cars out there that are undiscovered.
    Take this example of an Apollo 5000GT. I would consider it a barn fine but it was left out in the weather like you described Mike for some 20 odd years maybe more. I personally think it’s worth more than what I paid in total $1250.00. Has all the glass too.

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