Barn finds are every car collectors dream. That feeling of opening up an old, dusty wooden shed only to find a priceless, automotive relic is probably unparalleled. A simple internet search reveals a ton of finds; many of the stories are fairly straight-forward and some of them are complete fakes (see below)… But all of them are pretty fascinating!
We’ve picked out 8 of the most interesting tales floating around the internet for you to read.
Antonia Ferreira de Almeida car collection (myth)
Possibly the most fabled car find ever, the now famous ‘Portuguese Barn Find’ is the thing of legends for any car collector… And that’s exactly what it is! The story goes that a New York man decided to take retirement in Portugal and purchased a farmhouse with a few acres of land. The property had been vacant for roughly 15 years; the owner and his wife had both died and the house was sold to pay taxes. On the land stood a giant barn house with the doors welded shut which nobody had bothered to open. When he and his wife cut through the doors, they found over 400 cars.
Sounds believable, right? Well, kind of! While the general idea of the whole ‘barn find’ was fictitious, the car collection was not. It turned out that the rumour was all the work of car collector Antonia Ferreira de Almeida, who had been amassing his collection since the 1970’s Carnation Revolution. The full list can be found here and it is quite something. For the viral stir that this caused and the 400+ collection, it deserves to be in the list.
Bugatti Type 22
You’ve heard of barn finds… But how about lake finds? The 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster was a potent supercar of its day. It could reach over 100mph, which is pretty incredible considering the time period it was built. It is said that this particular Type 22 was acquired in 1934 by a Swiss playboy with a passion for motor racing and poker. After winning the car in a Paris poker game, he reached the Swiss border only to realise he didn’t have enough money to pay for the customs tax. So, in true millionaire playboy fashion, he chose to dump the car and carry on without it. After tax officials waited several years for him to cough up the money they eventually gave up and weirdly, for unknown reasons, decided to dump the car in an Italian lake. In 1967 it was rediscovered by a local driving club who sold the remains in 2009 to raise money for a local charity. The Bugatti now spends its days in Mullin Museum, California.
Bugatti Type 57S Atalante coupe
An incredibly rare variant of the Type 57, this Atalante was discovered in a garage in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne in 2008. Only 43 models of the Type 57S were ever produced, with only 17 of those produced featuring the in-house Bugatti Atalante coupe custom coachwork . This particular car chassis number 57502 carries a rich heritage, having been bought originally by the 5th Earl Howe Francis Curzon in 1937. Following three more owners it finally ended up with Harold Carr in 1955, where it was locked in his garage in 1960. The car laid dormant for nearly 50 years until it was discovered by his family in 2007, following Harold’s death.
Most people don’t expect to ever find a forgotten classic car, let alone an entire building full of them! When the Lambrecht family agreed to sell their old Nebraska Chevrolet dealership to American auction company VanDerBrink, nobody expected to find over 500 vehicles packed inside. Complete with original windows stickers, 50 of them were still in showroom condition aside from some cosmetic dust. Not only that, but the dealership also had loads of original parts for classic Chevrolet vehicles and even a rare peddle car! More than 12,000 people turned up for the auction in the small town of Pierce, with a population of only 1,700 people. Highlights included a 1956 Chevrolet Cameo pickup truck, 1964 Chevrolet Impala and a 1978 Corvette all with less than 5 miles on the clock, as well as many, many more.
Citroen 2CV prototypes
While not exactly one of the most fondly remembered classic cars, the 2CV prototypes deserve a mention for the story surrounding them. During the German occupation of France in World War 2, Citroen were well on their way to developing the 2CV we know today. When word came that they had been invaded and their technology might be in trouble, the manufacturer began simultaneously destroying and hiding them on mass. For a while it was believed that only two of them existed and an internal memo had been ordered to have them scrapped. Then in a barn at the Bureau d’Etudes at Ferté-Vidame, these three models turned up. It is thought that some of the workers at Citroen appreciated their historic value and hid them secretly without informing anybody else. They were finally uncovered in 1995.
Ferrari Dino 246 GTS
Imagine playing in the soil as a child, only to suddenly hear the clack of a metal roof from an old Ferrari Dino 246 GTS. Well, that’s exactly what happened to a couple of kids back in 1978, in Los Angeles, California. The Dino had been reported stolen 4 years before by then owner Rosendo Cruz but it was never successfully recovered. When the Dino was dug up, they discovered it had been mummified with plastic sheets to prevent dirt from entering the vehicle. The intakes had also been stuffed with cloth to ensure that worms and dirt couldn’t get inside and damage the engine.
With no leads the case was eventually dropped by the police. The car ended up at the Farmers Insurance Group who agreed a sum of £22,500 be paid to the Dino’s legal owner. For a while that was it, until the story was picked up again in 1986 by the AutoWeek magazine. Using its serial number they began to piece together the cars life before the burial. When AutoWeek released the article and referred to its condition as “surprisingly good”, it sent the Farmers Insurance switchboard into a frenzy. The firm had no choice but to put the car up for view so people could see for themselves… This backfired terribly when the car was stripped bare for parts by several fake bidders. It was eventually sold in an auction for between ‘$5000 and $9000’ to a young mechanic in San Fernando Valley. Miraculously, with help from some unknown people, he managed to restore it to near mint condition.
Mercedes Benz 500K Caraccioloa
In a generic, unremarkable junkyard in South Central Los Angeles lays a priceless car that truly is one-of-a-kind. The Mercedes Benz 500k Caraccioloa was a one-off model built in 1935 exclusively for the Silver Arrows race driver Rudolph Caraccioloa. Having been through one restoration already in 1978, it could be seen on the Pebble Beach concours until it was snapped up by junkyard owner Rudi Klein. When he took the 500k to a car show in Newport Beach only to be disappointed at its failure to start, it went straight back to his scrapyard on the back of a trailer where it has remained ever since. The junkyard in question is Porsche Foreign Auto, which after Rudi Klein’s passing is now owned by his two sons. The Mercedes Classic Centre in Irvine believe the 500K could be worth more than $10 million but weirdly, the two sons won’t let anybody inside to look. Sadly it looks like it is there to stay indefinitely…
Before Toyota became the market-leading manufacturer we know today, it was originally the automotive division of a loom company. Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder, created the company as part of a spin-off from his father’s manufacturing business ‘Toyoda Automatic Loom Works’. After their first vehicle, the G1 truck, was completed in 1935, Toyoda turned to the commercial market and began work on the AA. It was their first ever car that seemingly got lost to the ages. When the famous Louwman Museum in Holland got word that a potential AA had surfaced near the Russian city of Vladivostok, they couldn’t believe it. After months of negotiations they finally managed to purchase it from the owner, who said it had spent most of its life in Siberia. Toyota has since confirmed its authenticity and the AA now proudly stands in the Louwman Museum.
So there you have it, that’s a rundown of the best barn stories that we could find on the internet. Do you agree with us on them? Do you perhaps know some even better ones? Make sure to get in touch and comment via our social profiles and let us know!
Cover photo attribution: foxnews.com
Abandoned cars attribution: gtplanet.net
Lake bugatti picture attribution: gizmag.com
Bugatti Type 57S Atalante coupe attribution: autoblog.com
Lambrecht Chevrolet attribution: timesheraldonline.com
Bullet hole attribution: caranddriver.com
Toyota AA attribution: Chris 73
Written by Tom Wellburn