For as long as there have been barns, people have been parking vehicles in them and forgetting where they left them. It stands to reason that the term ‘barn find’ probably goes back to ancient times. Of course listing your rare chariot on eBay would have been decidedly more difficult back then.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, the tradition seems to have stuck, and it’s impossible to do a search on any online classic car classifieds without coming across a vehicle which – judging by its description – has been ‘found’ in a barn.
I find it strange that so many people forgot they parked their car in a barn long enough for someone to find it years later and list it on eBay as if it was some kind of exotic discovery. Also, surely the number of vehicles ‘found’ in barns has now overtaken the world’s population of barns? (I haven’t even tried to research that fact by the way, let me know if you have…)
Occasionally, very occasionally a ‘barn find’ comes along that makes the magazine editors run for their pens and sets the viral social media machine in motion. But invariably this will be something rare and exotic like a Ferrari 250 GTO that was left in an old shed owned back in the day by a now-defunct racing team, and found by the new land owner whilst clearing the site for redevelopment. A car that, even showing signs of being parked up under a leaky barn roof would still be worth more than the average house. By the way, I would suggest that is the very minimum qualifying criteria for a car listed as a ‘barn find’.
I say that, because surely (hopefully?) we must have run out of Morris Minors owned by little old ladies whose husbands passed away decades ago, leaving the old family car parked at the bottom of the garden. And let’s be honest the term ‘barn find’ was never that great anyway. At best it conjures up images of perished master cylinders, seized gearboxes and mouse-holed seats. At worst, it’s not just the seats that have holes.
So why all of a sudden has ‘barn find’ seemingly become a fashionable way of drawing attention to one in ten classified ads? I can only assume it’s because the people who left cars rotting at the bottom of their gardens have noticed the similarities between the state (sorry, condition) of their car, and the exotica that has from time-to-time been found nestling in some dusty old out-building in an old farm building somewhere near Sienna.
The difference, though is that a 1988 Sierra LX is not nearly in the same league, and it’s definitely not worth as much – financially or sentimentally – as something that started life rolling off a production line in Maranello.
So, if before reading this you were about to list your rusty classic (ahem!) car as a ‘barn find’, save us all the frustration and just be honest; it’s knackered, has been neglected for years and you just want to get a few quid before it needs sweeping up.
Alternatively of course, we could just go back to describing every car for sale as “mint”. At least we all knew where we were then.
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