Top 10 Barn Finds: Discovering Hidden Classics

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The allure of great barn finds lies in their stories—vehicles left to gather dust, only to be rediscovered and appreciated as pieces of automotive history. From classic sports cars to legendary racers, these finds remind us of the treasures that time forgot. Here are the top 10 barn finds that have captivated car enthusiasts worldwide.

  1. 1964 Selby Cobra Daytona
    The Shelby Cobra Daytona stands as a testament to American engineering and racing prowess. Only 6 units were produced, but all were capable of shattering speed records at Le Mans to become legends. The most astonishing tale involves one Daytona that vanished for 30 years, found in a storage unit by a woman unaware of its significance. Her father’s forgotten purchase was rumored to have sold for $4 million.
  2. 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS
    This Ferrari Dino, reported stolen in 1974, was discovered four years later by two boys playing in their backyard. Allegedly, the owner wanted to illegally collect insurance money and hired people to destroy the vehicle. Instead, they buried it in hopes of retrieving the car later to sell, but they forgot where it was buried. The treasure was restored and is now driven regularly, its license plate “DUGUP” a nod to its unusual past.
  3. 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante
    The Bugatti Type 57S Atalante is a marvel of pre-war engineering, reaching speeds unheard of at the time. Owned by notable figures and eventually parked in a garage in 1960, it remained until the owner died in 2007. It was left to the owner’s family who had no idea it existed. It later sold for over $3.5 million at auction, its discovery highlights the significant value and historical importance of such finds. In 2022, the Bugatti Type 57S Atalante sold for over $10,000,000 at Pebble Beach Auctions. 
  4. 1957 Corvette AIRBOX Racer
    A pivotal model for Corvette, the AIRBOX Racer was limited to just 43 units and designed with cutting-edge features. Lost to time, one was found in an Ohio barn and identified as the prototype of the series. Corvette enthusiasts said it was like “finding a Picasso in your attic.” Its restoration took over two years and more than 1,500 hours to complete, but it eventually returned to its original glory.
  5. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
    Only 29 of the 300SL gullwing coupe were produced, symbolizing exclusive luxury and innovation. One young man received this car as a college graduation present and drove it regularly until the transmission gave out in 1971. It sat partially dismantled in a Santa Monica garage for four decades before being discovered. While updates on its status are scarce, this restored barn find would likely be worth seven figures.
  6. 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Convertible
    This model is known for accelerating from 0 to 100 mph and back to rest in under 30 seconds. Introduced in 1961 with only 70 built, one was owned by Geoffrey Blackman, an Oxford professor. Intending to rebuild the engine, the car instead sat in dry storage and later suffered some interior damage. It sold at auction in 2011 for just over $500,000, a testament to its lasting value and appeal.
  7. 1949 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta
    With only 25 of these 2-liter V12 motor vehicles built, the 166MM Barchetta is a rare gem. An American, presumably stationed in Europe for military duties, stumbled upon this vehicle in a showroom. He purchased it for a sum between $5,000 and $8,000 and shipped it to his friend in California. After being driven around Arizona, it broke down and was left covered outdoors until discovered after the owner’s death. It later sold for over $1 million! The new owner also learned that the Ferrari had participated in prestigious races like Le Mans and Silverstone. 
  8. 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S
    A symbol of Italian luxury and performance, this Miura P400 S was initially bought by an ad executive in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1971. It later belonged to amateur race car driver Hans-Peter Weber, who stored it in a barn in the Black Forest of Germany until he died in 2015. Retaining its original paint scheme and sky-blue interior, the car sold at auction in 2019 for nearly $1.6 million, a tribute to the enduring allure of Lamborghini’s craftsmanship.
  9. Citroen 2CV Prototypes
    A departure from the luxurious and sporty nature of other finds on this list, the Citroen 2CV prototypes represent a significant chapter in automotive history. Developed as a low-priced car for France’s rural population, the 2CV was dubbed the “umbrella on wheels.” With the onset of WWII, Citroen hid several prototypes to prevent their military use and three were found in a French barn in 1955. The roof of the barn was removed to extract the vehicles and they remain exactly as discovered.
  10. 1982 Lamborghini Countach LP500 S
    A beacon of the early ’80s supercar era, this vehicle recently emerged from over two decades of seclusion in a Californian storage facility. This particular model was the first LP500 S variant to be produced by Lamborghini, embodying the era’s bold design with its angular lines and powerful V12 engine. Only 321 units were produced, making it a coveted collectible that recently commanded a price of $563,000 at auction.

These barn finds not only tell tales of neglect and rediscovery but also highlight the enduring legacy of these vehicles. They remind us that behind every layer of dust lies a story waiting to be told, a piece of history ready to be revived. As technology advances and designs evolve, these finds serve as a link to the past, to the origins of automotive passion and craftsmanship.

Tips for finding your own classic car barn find

Searching for a hidden gem takes patience, determination and a touch of creativity. The journey may involve scouring classifieds, driving through rural roads and interacting with locals. While it’s a path fraught with dead ends and false leads, the promise of discovery fuels optimism.

Increase your chances of uncovering a treasure with these tips.

  • Networking: The classic car community is a goldmine of information. Join clubs, engage in forums and attend shows to connect with fellow enthusiasts. You never know what leads seasoned collectors will share!
  • Research: Investigate the history of your area, from old car dealerships to forgotten private collections, for clues as to where classic cars might be tucked away. Check out the library and historical society to access these resources.
  • Auctions & estate sales: These events often harbor undervalued classics—but also demand knowledge and caution. Understanding cars’ potential value and restoration costs can mean the difference between a savvy investment and a costly mistake.

If you’re interested in more intriguing vehicles, read The 12 Best Car Collections in the World and explore the prized possessions of Jay Leno, Arturo Keller, Jerry Seinfeld and collectors from around the world. Do you have your eye on a vintage or luxury vehicle but the seller is located in another state? Classic car transportation may be the solution you need. 

Wooden blocks spelling "FAQ"

Frequently asked questions

What is a barn find?

A barn find refers to a classic vehicle that’s been rediscovered after being stored, often in poor conditions. The term originates from instances where vehicles were found in old, abandoned barns.

Where are barn finds typically found?

While the term suggests that these cars are found in barns, they are in fact found in various places where old items are typically stored, like garages, sheds, storage units or even fields.

What is the best website for selling barn find classic cars? 

There are several options for selling your barn find online. Many car collectors browse Bring-A-Trailer and Hemmings when looking for their next antique, specialty or classic car purchase. You can find a list of the 13 best used car sites here.

How do I get my barn find home if it doesn’t run?

Most barn finds will be inoperable, so getting it home may seem like a daunting task. However, professional vehicle transport companies with experience handling classic cars can ensure your treasure is safely transported.

Why are barn finds exciting for collectors?

Barn finds are exciting because they carry a sense of mystery and history. Each vehicle has a story and uncovering it can be a fun adventure. Plus, these vehicles are often rare and valuable, fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) at auction.

Can anyone go looking for barn finds?

Yes, anyone can seek out barn finds. But it’s important to respect private property and ask for permission before exploring any barns or buildings.

How can I authenticate a barn find?

The following steps can help authenticate a barn find:

  • Verify the serial number and title 
  • Inspect the structural integrity, engine and original parts
  • Consult with an expert or trusted mechanic to provide helpful insights 
  • Research the historical significance and market value of the make and model

Are barn finds worth more if they’re restored?

This depends on the vehicle and the buyer. Some buyers prefer unrestored cars in original condition, while others value a well-restored classic. It’s best to do some research and consult with an expert before deciding whether to restore your find.

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