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Huge classic car find in barn in Portugal
February 18, 2007 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Imagine you live in Portugal and you're moving into a lovely farm house on a large swath of land. The place has been empty for 15 years! While exploring your new property you find a large barn in the trees. The door is padlocked shut and its all rusted solid. so you grind the padlock open... [more inside]
posted by MegoSteve (70 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The story of this phenomenal barn find has been flying around auto enthusiast message boards for a few weeks, but nothing has been confirmed, so it could be a hoax. It sure seems too good to be true, but regardless, it is an amazing series of photos rare European cars found in one place. As a (non-car) collector, I'd like to believe that this kind of find can still happen.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:53 PM on February 18, 2007


Holy fucking Christ on a ten-meter pole. That's very cool.

Very, very cool.
posted by koeselitz at 4:00 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow.
posted by dobbs at 4:01 PM on February 18, 2007


I have a friend who would have kittens over this...
posted by gnomesb at 4:02 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool post... apropos of nothing, we are Harrisburg-York-Lancaster Conurbation buddies! Yeah!
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2007


*fap fap fap*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2007


Wow pretty much sums it up. What a find, I'm not that big on cars but if I found a stash like that in my new house I'd say the DIY would be taking a back seat while I hoked around my new playground!
posted by twistedonion at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2007


Wow.
posted by matthewr at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2007


With everyone saying wow I'll go on record as being disappointed. I was expecting a creepy decrepit red wooden barn in the woods, with mysterious creepy things inside, skeletons, piles of Nazi gold...
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:07 PM on February 18, 2007


If it's a fake, somebody put a bizarre amount of effort into it -- how the fuck do you fake years of dust like that.

I'm not a car fan, and I find myself agree with Mr_C_D. What a thing to find -- even if the story isn't exactly true.
posted by eriko at 4:09 PM on February 18, 2007


Is there more backstory on this? That's not exactly a cheap barn (I was also expecting a crumbling wooden structure), have the cars VINs (if they have them) been checked, who did the land belong to, etc...

We had a find like this, but it was a guy who collected 50s-70s Pontiacs - unfortunately, he kept them all in a field, so most of them had rotten rusty frames.
posted by Liosliath at 4:13 PM on February 18, 2007


I imagined a stash of wine before I opened the link. Maybe there's some in the trunks of the cars.
posted by Brian B. at 4:17 PM on February 18, 2007


My Dad is a car collector, and he has a barn-full of old cars plus two garages and a "storage area". I sent him this link. I imagine he'll have something interesting to say about it.
posted by nekton at 4:17 PM on February 18, 2007


There's a famous similar story of a rich miser in New England somewhere that would buy rare cars and just hide them in a barn, for fears that the IRS would find out if he ever drove them. IIRC, it was discovered in about 1997 or so and the contents of a single barn were worth several million dollars.
posted by mathowie at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, from a collector's standpoint, and a mechanical one, would these count as 'well-preserved'? Or is the coating of dust a sign of deeper trouble from the humidity, etc?
posted by docpops at 4:29 PM on February 18, 2007


Wow!

1. The barn looks very modern, maybe 30-40 years old. Almost certainly post-WWII. Maybe younger, since it isn't all covered in moss.

2. There is quite a range of cars in there. It looks like most of them are from the '50s to '70s, but there may be some old pre-war cars in there too.

3. Perhaps it was a rich guy who dabbled in Formula racing a bit, but ultimately stuck to sports cars. Note that we see a Porsche 356, but not a 550. This guy obviously prefered quantity over quality.

4. Lots of cars are packed into a small space, but they really aren't setup for long term storage. Note how the tires are deflated and the cars are resting on their wheels. A more careful collector would have blocked the cars up.

5. I'm guessing the owner was an eccentric individual, without much staff. A professional mechanic probably would have stored the cars off their wheels, and would have gotten the word out about the collection after the owner died.

6. The owner probably passed away without heirs, or the heirs couldn't be bothered to care about dad's old car collection.

7. There is definitely something creepy about this collection. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm reminded of those photos of piles of shoes near Nazi concentration camps.

8. The owner may have just been a packrat. He bought a new car every year, and parked the old one off in the barn. This can't have been the first barn though. The barn seems much younger than some of the cars it contains.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:34 PM on February 18, 2007


I wonder if this collection predates The Carnation Revolution or not. Oh, if I could only read the dates on these newspapers. Y'know, having MiguelCardoso still around would be very useful right about know. Also, some of these seem pretty dilapidated.
posted by Kattullus at 4:37 PM on February 18, 2007


Aww, maaaan... how come stuff like this never happens to me?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:47 PM on February 18, 2007


I mean, just living in Portugal. Never mind the barn fulla cars.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:48 PM on February 18, 2007


I bet the pictures are real, just the back story isn't. I doubt someone would sell a property with a large building on it without ever opening the building to see what is inside.
posted by bhouston at 4:59 PM on February 18, 2007


Maybe this is why we haven't heard from Miguel in a while... he's cleaning all the dust off his new collection :)
posted by pjern at 4:59 PM on February 18, 2007


This is an amazing find and it's very hard to believe it's a hoax... the pictures are extremely convincing.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:08 PM on February 18, 2007


I would like to know more about the backstory. I'm into vintage VWs and the "barn find" is sort of a standard urban legend among car folks. It does happen but more often it's one of those friend of a friend sort of things. The documented ones that I've read about are usually one or two cars tucked away in a barn by an old man who got too old to take care of them and found when the family wants to sell the place. But like b1tr0t said, this had to have been some very rich but crazy old man. Who would go to the trouble of finding and buying some serious antique sports cars and then just parking them in a barn? I'm sort of torn between feeling wonder at all those cool cars and anger at who bought them and then just left them there to rot.
posted by octothorpe at 5:12 PM on February 18, 2007


I bet the pictures are real, just the back story isn't. I doubt someone would sell a property with a large building on it without ever opening the building to see what is inside.

That's kind of what I was thinking. This barn is far too valuable and far too obvious to have not been mentioned in the sale of this property. Unless this involves dictators or something shady or whatnot, I can't imagine this barn going unnoticed, pre-sale. I can imagine an executor of an estate finding this, but not someone that bought the land.
posted by teece at 5:15 PM on February 18, 2007


docpops, the bodyshells -alone- are a staggering find. A few of the Lancias - like the Flaminia Zagato - are exceedingly well-known for body rot and the ones shown in the pictures will be begged for. Same with the Alfa 1900 Superleggera .

Unless the collector was careful, none of these cars will start if they've really been sitting for fifteen years. The seals will be shot, the pistons probably seized in their bores, carburetors full of muck and there will be electrical problems to keep an army of mechanics busy for years. The way you 'recover' these cars is to take them apart piece by piece and do what amounts to a total restoration.

That said, a complete and straight Lancia Flaminia coupé will probably go, as it sits in the bottom rank, third column, for around 50k US. Someone who knows old German cars will be able to answer about the Porsche 356. Those are IMO the most lustworthy machines there.
posted by jet_silver at 5:17 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find it highly dubious that someone would buy a large piece of property with a large barnlike structure on it and not even have a look inside before buying.
posted by zorro astor at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2007


So, from a collector's standpoint, and a mechanical one, would these count as 'well-preserved'?

Some yes, some no. The hardest thing in restoring any of these is going to be the fact that the spare parts are going to be nearly impossible to find. A lot of those car makers don't even exist any more. And some, like , these Formula 1 racers, are one-offs.

Additionally, HOLY FUCKING SHIT-ASS PISS-FUCK CHRIST!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 PM on February 18, 2007


Man, I'll take that nice little Datsun Z. That's all I want, is that too much to ask?
posted by waitingtoderail at 5:21 PM on February 18, 2007


Meh. It's obviously just a forgotten Doomsday Vault, constructed to safeguard the world's car design from catastrophe.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:22 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


All is dust. Memento mori. You can't take it with you. Rosebud.
posted by stbalbach at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2007


*fap fap fap* pretty much sums it up for me.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:30 PM on February 18, 2007


I know nthing about cars and have never owned one - but even I think that's fairly cool! Having said that, that's not a "large barn in the trees." If I saw it I'd describe it as a warehouse, and it sure ain't hidden.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:31 PM on February 18, 2007


I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this, but could this be what's been keeping Miguel Cardoso too busy for MetaFilter?
posted by wendell at 5:37 PM on February 18, 2007


Wendell, if it was a wine cellar you might be on to something.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:45 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I once rented a one-bedroom apartment and discovered after I moved in that what I thought was a closet was a stairway to a second floor with two more bedrooms, which I then rented to roommates.

Maybe somebody told the buyer that the barn was empty. Seems possible to me.
posted by words1 at 5:45 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Background below
posted by growabrain at 5:46 PM on February 18, 2007


I'd love to write "WASH ME" on one of those.
posted by furtive at 5:48 PM on February 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Speckled Hens all around, then!
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:50 PM on February 18, 2007


Hah. There's a mid-70's Bug in there that looks just like mine from the back. Not interesting enough to get a comment in the caption though.
posted by octothorpe at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2007


From Growbrain's link:

I read about this in the portuguese newspapers the other day. It belonged to a wealthy doctor here in Portugal and he passed away and nobody knew about his collection.

/Applies to Portugese medical school
posted by b1tr0t at 5:58 PM on February 18, 2007


I'm glad I read the comments here before clicking on the link. I was sure this was going to be about chopped-up delivery boys.
posted by maryh at 6:11 PM on February 18, 2007


Damn, the original Lotus Super 7 series IV would fetch a packet. I'm pretty sure they didn't make many; that was about the time they decided to drop it and pass production off to Caterham, who quickly reverted to the earlier design.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:35 PM on February 18, 2007


Hm, maybe not. Asking price for those looks like it's only about £10K.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:39 PM on February 18, 2007


None of the cars is outrageously valuable, though they're all of interest to collectors. The "formula" cars look like Formula Fords or maybe Formula 3, nothing to sneeze at but not F1 stuff.

They're all interesting and show an eclectic taste. Most collectors have a "theme" whether it's all Italian (or all Alfa) or sports cars of the 50's or...you name it. This guy seemed to value nothing more than originality, perhaps.

Most of the cars seem pretty much as they left the factory which is extremely valuable in and of itself. For example, the Mini Coopers are very hard to find in original condition as most have been extensively boy-racered.

The auction attending public has an inordinate fascination with barn-find cars, so there is some value in that. I'd guess $500,000 for the lot unless there is something truly unusual in there. I'd say 80% of the cars there are rare but pedestrian, and while there are, for example, people who would enjoy owning a 4-door Oldsmobile from the early 70's or a fintail Mercedes, they still aren't going to pay you much for it.

But yes, fap fap fap.
posted by maxwelton at 7:24 PM on February 18, 2007


So how many people did the previous owner kill before hiding their cars?
posted by gottabefunky at 7:54 PM on February 18, 2007


I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this, but could this be what's been keeping Miguel Cardoso too busy for MetaFilter?

Wendell, someone did.
posted by pineapple at 7:56 PM on February 18, 2007


I bet the pictures are real, just the back story isn't. I doubt someone would sell a property with a large building on it without ever opening the building to see what is inside.

Actually, this happens quite often with rural properties, especially if no one has been living there for some time. The assumption being that old outbuildings contain, if anything, junk- if you (the seller) don't open the doors and find out what it is, you don't have to deal with it.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:00 PM on February 18, 2007


Wendell, if it was a wine cellar you might be on to something.

Like that of wine collector Park B. Smith?
posted by ericb at 8:05 PM on February 18, 2007


yes pineapple. thats the joke :)
posted by bob sarabia at 8:07 PM on February 18, 2007


Open door, drop jaw, release bowels...
posted by LordSludge at 8:53 PM on February 18, 2007


I wish to formally apologize for essentially 'double-posting' solopsist's joke about Miguel. I honestly searched the thead but did not find M.C.'s name previously invoked. Must be a flaw in my browser or my eyes. To put it simply, I'm sorry I did it and regret any discomfort it may have caused other MeFites. If this is not an adequate apology, I will call myself out in MeTa, but, honestly, this evening I don't feel quite up to doing an entertaining flameout (sorry, languagehat). So let me just say I'M SORRY.

Or, in the words of the late John "Denver" Deutschendorf Jr.:
I'm sorry for the way things are in China
I'm sorry things ain't what they used to be
But more than anything else
I'm sorry for myself

posted by wendell at 8:56 PM on February 18, 2007


rich people suck. That is all.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:18 PM on February 18, 2007


Particularly odd: The doors weren't locked shut, they were welded shut.
posted by mendel at 9:30 PM on February 18, 2007


Mr. Padraigin is weeping.
posted by padraigin at 9:41 PM on February 18, 2007


Yeah, this story has been around on car blogs for a couple of weeks now (I recall).

There's some interesting stuff there to be sure, but it's actually all fairly pedestrian stuff, fairly run of the mill Lancias and what not.

Nice cars to be sure, but it's not like it's a barn full of Ferraris and old Auto Unions.

But still nice.

BTW, someone up above mentioned the Series 4 Lotus 7 ... I know of a guy in Honolulu that is STILL trying to get rid of the one he bought in the80s.
posted by Relay at 10:27 PM on February 18, 2007


Amazing story. Finding treasure is an exciting subject.

Related: Peter Max left 36 Corvettes in the dust in a Brooklyn basement.
posted by nickyskye at 11:05 PM on February 18, 2007


Motor Trend Classic's Barn Finds — readers send in their stories and photos.
posted by cenoxo at 12:08 AM on February 19, 2007


Whoever found this did indeed hit the jackpot, assuming the owner didn't know what he had.

I have found a few cars, but nothing really worth jumping up and down about. My experience has been that if someone stashes a car away they actually have an inflated idea of what it's worth that is not borne out by reality. NADA guidebooks and television auctions only reinforce their beliefs. Try to explain to someone that, yes, a few genuine Cooper S Minis do indeed sell for a lot of money, but, no, your rusty bog-standard 850 with hydrospastic suspension isn't one of them...
posted by maxwelton at 1:34 AM on February 19, 2007


What, the gull-wing? Pshaw. I'd rather have the DB5.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:34 AM on February 19, 2007


I had a motorcycle problem when I was a little younger (it's a problem that 2 kids has only kind of cured) and I used to hunt every warehouse I could in hopes in hopes in hopes... never really anything came of it...

In my teens, a friend had a house with 'dependencies' (outbuildings), of many various sizes. One, about twice the size of your average out-house, had a stuffed fish: A six foot long gold-fish-like looking stuffed fish, standing on end, and glistening in taxidermied splendor whenever you opened the door.

I only got to open that door twice, and still don't quite believe it.

There are few things more seductive than old, locked, sheds...
posted by From Bklyn at 6:01 AM on February 19, 2007


UbuRoivas: "Meh. It's obviously just a forgotten Doomsday Vault, constructed to safeguard the world's car design from catastrophe."

Exactly. Which explains why it's been opened now.
posted by koeselitz at 7:57 AM on February 19, 2007


This is like an old-fashioned parlor game: The door is padlocked shut and its all rusted solid. so you grind the padlock open...

I was expecting a creepy decrepit red wooden barn in the woods, with mysterious creepy things inside, skeletons, piles of Nazi gold...
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:07 PM EST on February 18

I imagined a stash of wine before I opened the link.

posted by Brian B. at 7:17 PM EST

I was sure this was going to be about chopped-up delivery boys.
posted by maryh at 9:11 PM EST

I was imagining a stash of lost art, Renaissance masterpieces stolen from churches long ago.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:09 AM on February 19, 2007


I smell an internet hoax. The website is extremely unconvincing especially in that it has no story. Portugal is not that backwards that a real estate agent or owner would not open a huge concrete block garage to see what was in there.

I do not dispute that a Portuguese farm with a garage filled with antique autos was photographed. That much seems obvious.
posted by JJ86 at 9:47 AM on February 19, 2007


thats the joke :)

bob sarabia, thanks ever so... I just went into MeTa to search for some backstory on "the joke," and got an extensive primer on MeFi history. My eyes, they are wide open.
posted by pineapple at 12:44 PM on February 19, 2007


zorro astor: I find it highly dubious that someone would buy a large piece of property with a large barnlike structure on it and not even have a look inside before buying.

Exactly. This wasn't some tiny picturesque little red building on the back 40. This was a massive, concrete, gulag worthy, looming monument to abattoirs throughout history. I think a peek might have been in order before a buyer wrote a check.

I smell shenanigans on the back story, but it certainly does look like a bunch of old cars in in a concrete bunker somewhere.
posted by dejah420 at 9:10 PM on February 19, 2007


Another possibility: All these cars were stolen? That would explain why the barn was welded shut. Perhaps they were stolen and the head of the crime ring was killed or jailed or died, before he could unload them all? I realize there are a lot of cars here, but perhaps he overestimated his market, or he stole them all over Europe?
posted by Lord Kinbote at 7:12 AM on February 20, 2007


Did anyone else notice the tow truck parked in front of the barn?
posted by pcameron at 7:50 AM on February 20, 2007


My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law
And on Sundays I elude the eyes
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits
posted by joecacti at 9:02 AM on February 20, 2007


Hope the keys are in the barn too.
posted by pcameron at 1:05 PM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: "Meh. It's obviously just a forgotten Doomsday Vault, constructed to safeguard the world's car design from catastrophe."

koeselitz: Exactly. Which explains why it's been opened now.


Absolutely true. The clear pinnacle of design was in Wolfsburg, 1966. Everything since then has been steep downhill slide.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:19 PM on February 20, 2007


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