Our Top Five... 'Barn finds' on the classic car markets

To find the smoothest lines and finest chassis, collectors don't necessarily need to visit the world's most prestigious concourses or auction blocks. In fact, "barn finds" have become increasingly common in recent times...

A vintage AC Cobra and a 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe are among the classic autos to have re-emerged on the markets after years of gathering dust in garages.

So, to mark this recent spate of incredible classic car rediscoveries, this week's Top Five compiles our favourite automobile barn finds of recent months...

5. 1954 MG TF1500 ($32,000)

Never mind a garage... How about the jungle?

Nicknamed the 'Jungle MG', collector Michael Standen discovered this rusting 1954 MG TF1500 while working in Borneo, north of Australia four decades ago. The MG was completely wrecked - trees had grown through the chassis and snakes had made their home in it.

Piece of history: the 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe

But, in a labour of love, Mr Standen had it shipped back to Britain and restored to beautiful condition. The MG was bought at auction for £20,000 ($32,000) by beef farmer Jodie Green, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, who was impressed by its history.

How the car ended up in the jungle remains a mystery. But from now on it should be free from snakes, and should enjoy a comfortable retirement following its jungle adventures.

4. 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 ($101,389)

In the words of the seller, this DB2/4 was "coaxed" back to life after 40 years of hibernation in a barn, before going under the hammer at Historics at Brooklands' sale on September 25, 2010.

The car was treated to a comprehensive restoration: "Adding fresh oil, the engine turned over and was running using road going SU carburetors ... and also boasted rare and historic technology under its bonnet," said the lot notes.

"An important part of this car's original specification were the racing Solex carburetors fitted by Cunningham-Reid and a close inspection of the bulkhead shows it was modified to accept these Solex units in 1954.

Raised in a barn: the 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4

"These carburetors are extremely rare and the vendor was able to reunite the original triple Solex twin choke racing units which had been sitting on his shelf for over ten years prior to him purchasing the car. The set of twin SU carburetors will be supplied with the car."

It goes to show that a bit of tender loving care can go a long way. In the end, the car sold for £63,000 ($101,389).

3. 1962 DB4 Aston Martin - 'nearly' driven by James Bond 007 ($135,185)

This is quite an old sale, from May 2010 at Bonhams in the UK. But it's also one of our favourites: offering a blast from James Bond 007's past.

This single owner "barn find" 1962 DB4 Aston Martin was once used as a "test mule" by the Bond special effects department, and boasts an interesting story behind its claim to fame.

The car was purchased by the seller in December 1963 (it was originally built the previous year for the press tycoon Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook) who also happened to be a special effects designer at Pinewood Studios, where Bond's adventures are produced.

Going for Goldfinger: the 1962 DB4 Aston Martin

After a consignment of factory DB5s for the film was delayed, the red DB4 was drafted in as a replacement "test" car. Production staff measured it for the various gadgets (ejector seat, machine guns, etc) that would later be used by Sean Connery onscreen in his iconic silver DB5 in 1964's Goldfinger.

Having remained locked in a garage since 1974, this almost-famous DB4 sold for £84,000 ($135,185) inclusive of buyer's premium.

2. 1963 AC Shelby Cobra ($467,500)

This unrestored, barn-found 289 Cobra offered a perfect example of why alternative investments like classic cars are well worth considering.

Only the fifth example of its kind ever produced by British company AC Cars in 1963, it was purchased by its second private owner in 1981 for $30,000 of gold coins - and the fact they were gold is important.

It's well-known that over the last 30 years gold prices have fluctuated, but have generally experienced a gradual rise and peaked at record levels. In today's market, the $30,000 of gold coins would now be worth $93,730: triple their original value.

It's aged well... The barn-found 289 Cobra

Good news for car collectors and investors is that the classic car markets have actually outperformed gold. So it's no surprise that this 1963 Shelby didn't disappoint, selling for $467,500 - 15 times its original value.

1. 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe ($660,000)

Not only was this barn find a highlight at RM Auctions' upcoming Amelia Island auction, it emerged as one of the sale's top stars.

This incredibly rare 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe is one of only six examples with a body designed by coachbuilder Vignale. It remains unrestored, and is probably one of the last in the world. The car, chassis number 0267 EU, was originally displayed at the Turin Motor Show in 1953. 

It was later purchased by famous French car collector Jean-Louis Lafourcade, and imported to England in 1959, before being bought by its current owner in 1977. Yet mystery surrounds this 212 after it sat dormant in a private garage for nearly 30 years, somewhere in America's mid-west. 

Re-appearing only a month before going under the hammer in Arizona, the car sold for $660,000.


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