The barn-find display at the Classic Car & Restoration Show is as far removed from a concours d’elegance as you’re ever likely to get, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Indeed, there’s something bewitching about an old car emerging from its slumber, blinking its eyes as it sees daylight for the first time in years.
OK, so the term ‘barn-find’ has been massively diluted, with everything from a car stored on a front lawn to a vehicle left in the garage for a few years listed under the same umbrella. But we challenge you not to find something of interest in what the organisers are calling the “UK’s biggest collection of barn-finds”. We have photos of all 25, which you can see in the metal – or what’s left of it – at Birmingham’s NEC from 31 March to 2 April 2017.
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There’s a good chance that all of the cars featured at the NEC will be restored to their former glory. Take this 1987 Audi Quattro, which must be the star attraction of the entire display. It belongs to serial Quattro owner Andy Bates, who discovered it sitting outside in Burton upon Trent.
“I had known about the car since 2011 but it took me until 2015 for its owner to sell it to me,” said Andy. “It had been standing outside for about eight years and the bodywork was much as you see it now; the wings, roof and sills were all in need of attention. However, the Audi was still drivable and the ‘talking dashboard’ still spoke to me!”
Ford Capri 2.0S
The Mk2 Capri was introduced in 1974 and ushered in a more practical body, complete with hatchback tailgate. In truth, the Mk2 never captured the imagination quite like the Mk1, and production figures tailed off year-by-year, until the introduction of the Mk3 in 1978.
The Capri S was unveiled at the 1975 Geneva Motor Show and was codenamed ‘Midnight’ after its black bodywork. Thanks to its gold stripes, the black Ford Capri S soon became known as the ‘JPS’, an unofficial name reflecting the Lotus F1 cars of the time.
Austin Metro L
We checked the MOT history of this 1986 Austin Metro L to discover that it has covered a mere 13,779 miles during its three decades on planet Earth. Indeed, it has only travelled 250 miles since 2006.
Does the fact that it has visited an MOT station every year for the past decade render the ‘barn-find’ tag null and void? Answers on a postcard.
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
This Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow was built in 1975, registered in 1979 and last taxed in 1984. If the moss and grime is anything to go by, this sleeping beauty will need more than some light recommissioning before the 6.75-litre V8 engine roars into life.
Beneath the layer of vegetation you’ll find silver paintwork, while the cabin is filled with wood and grey leather. It sold at a Sheffield auction in February 2017. We’d love to know its backstory.
Mini 850 Super Deluxe
We’re reliably informed that Tom Larkin’s Mini is an 850 Super Deluxe. This trim level was formed when Super and Deluxe models merged to create something even more… well, super and deluxe. In its day, this was the flagship model of the standard Mini range, with a hint of the iconic Cooper.
It’ll be a while before Tom’s Mini is either super or deluxe, but we’re looking forward to seeing the results.
The two-tone beige and brown bodywork gives this Porsche 924 the air of a Toffifee caramel cup. Both were big hits in the 1980s and both were exported from Germany.
But that’s where the similarities end, because you can’t wander down to your local supermarket to buy a Porsche 924. This 1982 example was last taxed in 2000.
One of two cars on display belonging to John Ducker, this BMW 728i spent over a decade sat outside, exposed to the elements. “I had previously owned two 7-Series and thought that in their day they had a better ride than a Silver Shadow,” said John.
“My BMW is a very unusual manual gearbox model and the clutch is on the floor, so although the engine sounds sweet is cannot be run. For a car that was kept outside for so long, the body is comparatively free of rot, but the front passenger seat has deteriorated,” continued John.
The Jensen FF on display at the NEC was purchased from a dealer in 1995 and remained in the same ownership for 22 years, although a long-term illness meant that the owner was unable to drive it. It remained in a workshop for many years, until the owner passed away and the FF was purchased by Andrew March.
Andrew intends to restore the Jensen to its former glory. The artwork seen here centres on William Boyd’s Solo novel of 2013, which featured a Jensen FF in its publicity campaign.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
What a find! A good Mk1 Golf GTIs could be worth anywhere between £10,000 and £20,000, which means a ‘barn-find’ example will be in demand.
What you can’t see is the interior, which is covered in a thick layer of mould. You might need to dress up like Walter White in a meth lab before tackling this job.
Isuzu Piazza Turbo
Got your eye on something tasty on eBay? Put a cheeky bid on it – you never know, you might be lucky. That’s exactly what happened when John Ducker made a low bid for one of the few surviving Isuzu Piazza Turbos. The next morning he discovered he was was the new owner, and although it required some welding, Ducker describes the overall condition as “not too bad”.
“It is also a nice machine to drive,” continued John, “and my 1989 example is one of the only turbo automatics in the UK.” The Giugiaro-penned Piazza was influenced by the stunning Asso di Fiori concept of 1979. John certainly played his cards right.
Nissan Cherry Europe
There’s little love for the Nissan Cherry Europe and its sister car the Alfa Romeo Arna, a factor that has contributed to their spiral into the abyss. So it’s nice to see a Cherry Europe on display at the NEC.
“It had been lying in a garage in Stoke-on-Trent for the past 10 years,” said owner David Roberts. “The Nissan was surrounded by junk and its interior used for storage, but it wasn’t a complete mess and there were just 32,597 miles on the clock.” The Cherry was MOTd in May 2016 and the exterior is as David found it.
Opel Commodore A Coupe
Opel’s General Motors parentage ensured that the styling of the oh-so-pretty Commodore A Coupe had a distinct whiff of Americana about it. The ad copy of 1969 is superb, claiming that the car “is not exactly everybody’s idea of a director’s car,” before going on to say “it’s the first one that doesn’t look too portly and dull.”
“A true pillarless coupe that’s in a class of its own – the sort of look you don’t often see in Britain.” Today, that statement holds true, with very few Commodores left in the country.
Marcos was established in 1959, its name a combination of the surnames of its founders, Marsh and Costin. The GT was launched in 1964, complete with a wooden chassis and fibreglass shell.
It was notable for having a fixed seat and movable pedals, with a cabin designed around founder Jem Marsh, who happened to be 6ft 4in tall. This particular GT, which dates from 1970, was last taxed in 1987. It’s powered by a Ford Essex 2.0-litre engine.