‘Barn-find’ classics soar at British auction

A British auction featuring neglected “barn-find” cars and partially completed restoration projects hit the target Saturday, earning £1million ($1.67 million) with 85 percent of the 184 lots sold.

Ranging from valuable classic sports cars in decrepit condition to low-mileage mini cars and downright oddities, Silverstone Auctions’ inaugural Practical Classics Restoration Show in Birmingham, England, offered a few classic car bargains for restorers, as well as some surprisingly high results for beat-up cars.

Topping off the sale was a partially disassembled 1962 Facel Vega HK500, which hammered sold for £64,400 ($108,000, plus auction fees for all results listed here). A rare but musty 1969 Aston Martin DBS Vantage pulled from longtime storage more than doubled its upper auction estimate to sell for £51,175 ($85,600).

The Facel Vega came in pieces | Silverstone Auctions
The top-sale Facel Vega came in pieces | Silverstone Auctions

“I’m delighted with the results we’ve achieved for our vendors in the biggest-ever auction of its type,” Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said in a news release. “If ever proof was needed for the enduring appeal of the barn find then surely these results are it.”

A number of vintage Jaguars were among the barn finds, including the most-watched car at the auction and the second-highest seller, a handsomely ratty 1958 Jaguar XK150 drophead coupe that was recently discovered in longtime storage with other British sports cars in Sicily. The Jaguar, which the auction house referred to as “a worthwhile project,” sold for £62,100 ($104,000).

“We look forward to seeing many of the restoration projects brought back to their former glory very soon,” Whale said.

Not all the cars sold at the Silverstone auction needed extensive work, with some nicely restored cars and pristine low-mileage originals among the offerings.

Just before the sale, Silverstone reported that the dusty barn-find star of the auction, a 1939 Lagonda V12 with coachwork by Hooper, had been sold ahead of the bidding because of an aggressive offer from a determined buyer, although the amount was not revealed.

An original-condition 1937 MGTA sports car | Silverstone Auctions
An original-condition 1937 MGTA sports car | Silverstone Auctions

The Lagonda had a top value estimate in the catalog of £ 100,000 ($167,000), so the final price tag was most likely way north of that. Restoration costs for the rare classic also are expected to be significant.

Among the possible barn-find bargains at auction: a massive 1959 Cadillac limousine rescued from storage sold for £6,900 ($11,500) and, on the other end of the scale, a classic 1937 MGTA sports car in all-original condition after more than three decades off the road that went for £15,870 ($26,500).

The auction house commented in its catalog that the MGTA was amazingly original.

“The seats are even stuffed with period horse hair, which is starting to make a bid for freedom after 77 years,” the catalog reads.

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