Could This Be The Greatest Barn Find Ever?

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Our friend Tom Cotter has the enviable chore of walking into dilapidated barns and rural homesteads seeking out long-lost barn finds. Recently, his travels took him somewhere not far off the beaten path – still pretty much on the path, in fact – to an abandoned home in an upscale North Carolina neighborhood. In a rough garage next to the condemned house was the find of a lifetime!

I’ve been following Tom’s work on The Barn Find Hunter ever since it started, and it’s gratifying to see him come upon a collection like this (Tom, if you’re reading and need a PR guy, let’s talk). The 275 GTB seen here is special for many reasons, not the least of which is its sub-15,000 mile odometer reading. Most significantly, it is one of a handful of cars ordered from the factory with a lightweight aluminum body, which replaced the standard steel coachwork. The other big upgrade would have been six Weber carbs instead of three, but this car retains its standard setup.

Before we talk about the Cobra, take note of the other cars in the barn: a 9,000 original mile Triumph TR6 and a “…V-8, propane-fueled 1978 Morgan Plus 8 with just 3,000 miles.” What goes unmentioned in the late 80s BMW 325IX near the garage door (for obvious reasons, but I’ve always wanted a four-door IX). The Cobra is also a low-mileage specimen, with 19,001 on the clock. It is a 428-equipped example, making it one of 100 made with that engine. The car is pleasingly stock, wearing the correct-for-the-period Goodyear tires and no evidence of tacky add-ons, like sidepipes or rollbars.

What’s most incredible to me is the number of years that transpired with no one entering this garage or otherwise being aware of the collection. It was only when the house was slated for demolition that the seller – who supposedly laid these cars up when his preferred mechanic passed away – decided to phone a friend to exhume the vehicles. They’ve been sitting here since 1991 under the care of what amounts to an absentee landlord who built a house he never lived in. The mind reels. No word on where these cars are headed to next, but it’s hard to imagine a better garage than this if you’re a gear head with blood running through your veins.

Source: Hagerty

Like This? Get Our Daily Email!

Comments

  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Please give me a moment while I pick myself up off the floor…

    I think we all dream of locating barn finds like that one. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Classic Steel

    What’s the location and UShip is on speed dial 👀

    Amazing and I am sure they are headed to Barret Jackson or a consignment auction for the big boys with deeeeeep pockets

    • Rick McKee

      I agree after the last auction where prices were way out of line. Must be nice to have more dollars than sense.

  3. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    Tom Cotter’s magnet test told him that the Ferrari 275 GTB really is an aluminum bodied car.

    RM Sothebys sold an aluminum bodied 275 in 2015 for just under $4 million. Today one of these would be worth more than that. The RM car was a 6C, meaning 6 carbs, which made it more valuable than a ‘regular’ 3 carb car, so that’s another factor. Even tho the recently found car ‘only’ a 3-carb car, better bring cubic money when it goes on sale.

    I had a friend who bought a 275 GTB/4 around 1978 for $15K. Neither he nor the seller were aware of the steel vs. aluminum issue, but it turned out to be a steel car, so $15K was about right back then. Now? Somewhere around $2.9 million. If it did have an aluminum body just add about another half-million.

    The thing that amazes me about these finds is that the owner allowed the house to fall into disrepair to the point where it was condemned, and let the cars sit for years. Then someone twigs to the fact that the cars are there and need to be sold. Well, YEAH, best to get them out, appraised, and into more secure garages and ownerships….SOON, please.

    Leave it to Tom Cotter to write this story up so well, and also provide us with photos. I just wish I could have been there when he walked in.

    • Dave

      My Dad had a burgundy 68 275 GTB4 on his car lot in the early 70’s. It belonged to the sister of General Franco of Spain & had a yellow stripe down the middle (Spain’s colors). I got to drive it as a teenager a cpl of times. I’ve never heard a better sounding engine than that! Sold for only $10K back then…

    • Justin Schmidt

      I don’t necessarily think the house was unfit for living so much as it’s probably in a wealthy neighborhood and a wealthy buyer wants to tear it down for a new home. In this case, buyers come up with all kinds of excuses to tear a place down “mold in basement, plumbing needs total updating, etc.” I see this all the time in places like Connecticut, Long Island, other coastal areas. I had a client in the Finger Lakes tear down a very nice and rather large 130 year old estate to build an all-new 52 room mansion. The only thing he kept was the 200sqft shower house just off the lake, but even that is unrecognizable today…

      I really do see stuff like this all the time firsthand. Rust free Pagoda SLs sitting in barns under old carpets and moving boxes, hundreds of classic sports cars in a warehouse with a leaky roof, a dozen rare Mopars in a two story carriage barn where the back wall is about to collapse. The things people do to these cars never ceases to surprise me.

  4. Mark S.

    Incredible.

  5. Miguel

    “Could This Be The Greatest Barn Find Ever?”

    Tom sure seems to think so.

    Me, not so much.

    • spacelifer

      When a 19k mile Cobra comes in a distant second in it’s own garage, I think I’ll side with Tom on this one! 🙂

      I grew up in Danville CA (early ’70’s) and a neighbor would occasionally leave one of his (multiple) garage doors open. Inside he had a pair of Maserati Ghibli convertibles, one bronze and one green, side by side facing out, probably just to tease us! Coolest garage ever saw until I saw this!

    • Derek

      Miguel you would feel different if you were the heir to that fortune…you could retire at age 35 with that much money these will bring.

      • Miguel

        I don’t see cars for their monetary value. I enjoy driving the cars I have and if I don’t think I would enjoy driving it, I have no use for it.

        I don’t think I would enjoy driving anything in that barn.

    • spacelifer

      Wouldn’t enjoy driving a 275GTB V12 or an original Cobra? To paraphrase the Capital One commercial “What’s in YOUR garage?”.

  6. Alan (Michigan)

    Never heard of a Cobra running the Daytona 500……

    Still, an entertaining video, breathtaking cars.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Maybe he meant the Daytona 24 Hour race..?

    • Klharper

      He meant the 427 engine was designed for Daytona, not the cobra

  7. Grandville Steve Member

    help me rhonda!!!!!

  8. Mark

    Wait……upscale neighborhood, house built but never lived in which is now condemned and slated for demolition…and no one knew the cars were there?
    If there was truly a mechanic who maintained these cars then wouldn’t it make sense that he took them out once in a while? What guy doesn’t get his head turned when his neighbor’s Cobra or Ferrari travels up and down the street?
    Would love to know more the story of the owner and what warranted the neglect. Maybe the goal was to hide rather than collect?
    In the end doesn’t matter. Excess on parade. Insane.

    • Steve R

      The Barn Find video doesn’t say anything about the house being condemned, nor ever lived in, only that it’s been vacant and is run down. It’s pretty common for houses in posh neighborhoods to be bought then torn down. That happens all the time in silicone valley and parts of Los Angeles unless there are local ordinances restricting that practice.

      Steve R

    • Jason

      I agree! Theres SO much more to this story that needs to be told. This is absolutely incredible!!

  9. Todd Zuercher

    Just watched it the other day – incredible. Happy that a vehicle that I co-own is going to appear in one of his future books.

    • angliagt

      You own a Ferrari?

  10. David Frank David Frank Staff

    What an amazing find indeed. I think most folks know of at least one garage with interesting cars. There’s one garage I walk by almost every day. I had a peek inside once and promised not to tell except for perhaps the 1966 Mustang fastback. (It’s a pristine original one owner) The other 3 cars will be an amazing find one day for someone. I just can’t understand how someone can let these cars just sit. The owner of the house can’t reveal anything about his renter.

  11. newport pagnell

    Those tires know how to hold air.

    • Mark

      Pic #1 shows new air compressor and extension cords….

      • newport pagnell

        Good catch

  12. Francisco

    When it comes to discoveries, between this and King Tut, I think the Egyptian comes up pretty lame

  13. bob jenkins

    all of this, abandoned in an in an upscale North Carolina neighborhood, just left by an absentee landlord… now miraculously reappears 27 years later !!! A warm and fuzzy story with a nice topping of horse manure

    • hhaleblian

      Nice assessment. I agree with you Bob. More than a little missing in this story, but it sure made me miss my 65 275 GTB.

  14. Mjs

    I’m looking at those vintage Wingfoots on the Cobra. I still have a set holding air after 35 years.
    My guess is that these cars were known to a small group of quiet collectors waiting for their chance and that they were probably occasionally started. Great story on ‘em. Looks like Tom Cotter might be the lucky guy.

  15. dave

    Grab the paddles, I just had a heart attack!

  16. jdjonesdr

    Is that supposed to be an original Cobra? A continuation or a kit car?

    • Miguel

      It has an AC steering wheel, so my bet is that it is real.

    • Todd Zuercher

      Yes, this is the real deal from the 60s.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Real, but slightly less desirable, because it has the 428 instead of the 427. Still, not a pedestrian ride…..

    • Ryan Branstetter

      With a 15k mile 275gtb at its side? It’s real.

  17. Joe Haska

    None of us have to worry about finding “The Ultimate Barn Find” the best we are ever going to do is second, or maybe a tie , but I doubt it!

  18. angliagt

    I usually hate flippers,but with the value of these cars,
    I’d be tempted to.
    Of course,I wouldn’t have to worry about that happening,
    as I don’t think that I could afford any of these right now.

  19. UK Paul

    Beautiful finds. Love them all. That Ferrari will make big money.

  20. Tom

    Absolutely incredible.

  21. gaspumpchas

    wooo doggies– defies description. Hope they wind up with someone who appreciates what they are. Barnfinds.com Rocks….

  22. GP Member

    There was something about this on Yahoo home page a couple days ago.

  23. Michael Sullivan

    it should be moved to a museum, lock stock and barrel and with either an excellent reproduction of the building it was in.. or bring the building all together with the cars with original dust and everything .. handle it like an archeology mission..

    • Alan (Michigan)

      An interesting concept. I wonder if The Henry Ford could make space? I’d suggest skeletonizing the garage walls so people could peer in….

  24. Klharper

    I am not certain but I think these cars were located in a house in the Charlotte area. I worked for the Ferrari dealer in the 80’s and I think I recognize the Ferrari, the cobra and Morgan. I don’t know the story of the mechanic but I am pretty sure I put a water pump on that cobra in the 80’s. I was not his regular mechanic it just blew a water pump in Greensboro on a Saturday and I happened to be in the shop.
    The Ferrari is unusual and would always catch my eye but I doubt many people have the combination of the Morgan, 275 and cobra. I don’t recognize any of the other cars.

    • Pete

      I grew up in Charlotte and there is indeed a few areas that could have a garage of this size in a few up scale neighborhoods. Charlotte has many families with old money as it was built on top of an extensive gold mine all through down town. A lot of folks from Charlotte when they retire move to the beach or the mountains. At first they travel back and forth, then eventually settle in. They have people they pay to mow the grass while they are gone and eventually the home goes into disrepair because they have cut off the power at some point. If a person has the budget to buy these cars in the first place they operate in a rhelm that regular folks don’t understand. The owner could have died 15 years ago and his widow just didn’t care to go back to charlotte since all her friends were gone already. She just didn’t worry about his old cars because she had no idea how much they were worth nor did she even care. She may very well be residing in an assisted living home and have demetia or something and no kids to come visit so all that has long since been forgotten. She just wants her jello and to watch jeopardy until she passes. Now if that garage is really air tight I can then the lack of over all dust and dirt is possible after all that time of neglect. I do see mold on the walls and sheet rock crumbs on the ferrari. That is usually caused by moister and squirrels nesting in the attack area loading up acorns. There was a small house in charlotte that I knew about that had been abandoned for 20 years. It had 4 inches of dust on everything once it was finally entered. The property fell to the state or county and was torn down and the land sold. So it’s possible.

      • Dave

        I think you’ve come up with a plausible set of circumstances on what’s behind this story. Let’s see where it goes from here.

  25. David

    Stunning Barn Find, it’s the Barn Find we all dream about, and I can’t see how any other could be better.. The Ferarri is a $2.5 Million then a Cobra?? Wow!!

  26. Nick Member

    I am always amazed how many people cant see how this could happen. This happens because money is relative and time flys

    2
  27. Derek

    If I inherited that I’d sell them all buy a restored 1960 Dodge Convertible and a cheap townhouse and live off the interest.

    1
  28. Mike

    I’m a long lost relative! Where’s my attorney? Where’s my attorney?

  29. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    I watched Tom’s Vidio there’s a large mouse house in the trunk of the cobra.

  30. Skid

    Here’s a link to the video. Gives more explanation….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlRKSmHgzdE

  31. Cargirl

    This make me physically ill from jealousy. I am always on the lookout for the abandoned barnfind. The only thing I’ve found is a gun toting property owner to escort me off their property. Some people have all the luck.

  32. Neville

    Wow! Tom give me a jingle If you want, Neville on LongIsland( yes , that one!)

  33. Alexander

    What, no AMC Pacer or K-Car to round out this discovery? How about a burned out C2 Corvette to level the playing field!? I am so glad to read about this discovery that I feel as if almost everything else that has appeared on BF for the past three years is absolute rubbish.

  34. stilbo

    Proof that some folks simply have way more money than they need… Especially when a 275 GTB Alloy is left to rot: https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/MO14/Monterey/lots/r222-1966-ferrari-275-gtb-alloy-by-scaglietti/181195

    • Miguel

      How do you know what the man needed or even had?

      The cars were not million dollar cars when he parked them.

  35. Alexander

    And the mice preferred the trunk of the AC Cobra over the Ferrari! Thank goodness they didn’t burrow their way around the blue vinyl interior or defecate in the open trunk of the Ferrari.

  36. Ric Parrish

    Incredible find. I once painted a Morgan BRG, put that car pales to insignificant compared to the Cobra and 4RE. This stash will run into many many millions. You don’t ever find a metal Cobra anywhere.

  37. Nedsel

    Don’t know why there is so much skepticism going on here. The owner is still very much alive, just getting on in years. His ownership of at least the Cobra is well- documented. (And yes, it’s legit, not a kit car.) He parked them and left them there, and they remained unknown to all but a small group of people until Tom Cotter publicized their existence. End of story …until you maybe see one or two show up at auction soon.

  38. KKW

    They never made a 428 Cobra, kit cars only. Originals were 427s.

    • Todd Zuercher

      Tom explains the 428 scenario in the video. Cobra 101.

    • Craig M. Bryda

      Wrong!

    • Alex

      There was a run of Cobras with 428’s but most people don’t know that.

  39. jimmuh

    As a matter of fact, no this is not the worlds greatest barn find. That happened 4 years ago in France; the Roger Baillon Collection (google it). This is likely the 2nd greatest tho, and I ain’t complainin’!

  40. Are You Serious

    In a word… WOW!

  41. Neal

    Cool cars with an incredible WOW factor for sure.
    But far from the greatest Barn find for me since those cars are so incredibly out of my reach.
    Yes, these exotics are neat, but I like reading Barnfinds for the connections to cars for the Everyman (person). I like the simple dreams and histories I find here. And I hope to have one someday.
    Yup, I’m dreaming of a Scout, Model A, and a Dart.
    Enjoy the parade.

  42. Russell

    I know this is real or at least that’s what everyone says, but the odds of all this happening while they sit in a run down environment for all those years and nobody tried to vandalize, steal, tried to buy, etc seems bizarre to me.

    Congradulations on the find, but I’m requesting a “Special Investigation” because I don’t think anyone will Trump this find if it’s back story is true!

  43. the one

    Why? Why? Why couldn’t I have been the one to discover this awesome treasure?WWWWWWWWHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. LAWRENCE

    Love the way he slams the doors…..no….hate !

  45. Bill McCoskey

    The following is a VERY real story . . .

    In August of 1972 I was in Baltimore, down in the warehouse area near the inner harbor. Unlike today where the inner harbor is a tourist area, back then it was just block after block of old rundown warehouses. I was driving my 1955 Packard 400 2-door hardtop, and I was lost. No road map, and I was looking for I-95.

    As I passed an alleyway, I thought I saw a Packard sticking out from an open garage door, so I turned around & headed down the alley. Sure enough, it was a 1953 Packard Patrician, and 2 older guys were working on the car. I pulled up in my ’55, and looking up from under the hood of the ’53, they smiled and waved.

    Turned out the car belonged to a dentist named Benny Jones. He had a chain of dental offices in the poorer sections of Baltimore. Dr Jones also collected Packards, just Packards, and had been doing so for decades. The 2 guys told me to look inside the building. To my surprise, once my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit interior warehouse space, I found well over 100 Packards from the 1930s to the end of Packard in 1956. Over 100 Packards in this one huge warehouse room!

    The cars were jammed in to within inches of each other, and the only way to see them was to walk across the cars themselves, and it was clear that people had been doing that for a very long time. The cars were mostly complete except for radiators, they had been stolen for scrap metal. Dr. Jones had arranged to have all the windows blocked up to keep the thieves out, hence the lack of light inside.

    If I remember right, Dr Jones had over 300 Packards stored in several warehouses. That summer I made several trips back to the warehouse, but never met Dr. Jones. I was told he was quite elderly and in poor health. That September 7th I was inducted into the Army, and it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I was back in the area.

    But by 1974 Dr Jones had passed away, and all the cars they could find* had been sold off in a very well publicized auction, and the warehouses torn down as part of the inner harbor revitalization plans. I was in Europe when the multiple auctions of Dr. Jones’ cars were held.

    *All the cars they could find — I had been shown a smaller building a few blocks from the big warehouse, a 1-story 4-car garage with 4 single garage doors down the side, and inside the garage were 5 or 6 1956 Packard Caribbean convertibles and hardtops. As with the cars in the big warehouse, they were moved sideways until the sides were touching. I still have a Polaroid photo I took of these cars, however with no lights or windows, it’s impossible to see much. But I do know these rare Caribbean cars have never surfaced, and I fear they were never located by the family, Likely scrapped by the property owner when they tore the place down.

    But there you have it; My great barn find, about 300 Packards in total. As a 20 year old gearhead kid who was [and still is] crazy about Packard cars, it’s something I will never forget.

    • Neal

      Bill-
      Can’t get much more real than VERY real!
      Thanks for sharing your story. That’s the kind of connection to makes, models, and experiences that I love to find here on Barnfinds.

  46. Nic69

    This is why I read Barn finds every day!!!
    WOW!!

  47. PAPERBKWRITER

    Probably a village of mice living in those beautiful cars…Hard to imagine a car lover just leaving that hoard of valuable cars to get eaten up by time.

  48. Trevor1
  49. Ken M

    Nice find. I’d like to find some jet skis in there.

  50. Alan (Michigan)

    The cars have been moved!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t4aO-XuUHY

    Apparently, they will be auctioned at the Amelia Island Concours, March 9. That should be interesting. Anyone want to venture a guess regarding the prices they will bring?

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.