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Auction news, Motor Mouth articles 2014

Barns continue to unearth treasures

417 Barn find Jaguars blue drophead 417 Barn find Jaguars red fixedhead

IF there are two words that are guaranteed to get classic car enthusiasts foaming at the mouth with excitement, those words are ‘barn find’.

They immediately conjure up images of rare old vehicles that have lain half-buried in straw for half a century, just waiting to be discovered and admired.

Judging by the frequency with which the term crops up, especially in the slightly quirky world of classic auctions, you could be forgiven for assuming that barns all around the world were agricultural Aladdin’s caves bursting at the seams with automotive treasure trove.

More often than not, the poor old motors dragged from the gloom are run-of-the-mill farm vehicles or rusted-out runabouts from bygone times – although even these usually get the aficionados quivering with excitement.

Once in a while, though, some real gems get unearthed – and two such examples are due to go under the hammer at the first Restoration Show sale, hosted by Silverstone Auctions, at the NEC, Birmingham, on 12th April.

Coincidentally the cars are both 1958 Jaguar XK150 barn finds, although with very different histories, and they are each expected to go for between £35,000 and £45,000.

One is an indigo blue drophead coupé, the 74th example of the 622 right-hand drive cars built. In the 1980s it was bought by an Italian collector and exported to Sicily, where it was discovered recently among a hoard of old British sports cars.

The other Jag is a Carmen red fixedhead coupé. Hidden from the world since 1969, it was discovered by an enthusiast in 2009, having spent 40 years in a barn.

Its original owner was Alan Eccles, a renowned racing driver of the period and a garage owner in West Bromwich. The car was specially ordered with an ultra-rare close-ratio gearbox.

After taking a job abroad in 1969, Eccles stored the car in the barn at his Shropshire home, thinking this arrangement would only last for a few years. Four decades later the car was sold on.

The XK150 is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful sports cars ever produced; indeed XK models were causing a stir long before the E-Type ever saw the light of day.

Both the Jaguars in the sale need full restoration and there is likely to be no shortage of bidders. Old XK models are as rare as they come.

Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said: “It’s thrilling to be able to offer such exciting cars at this sale. With barn-find cars the potential subject of much intrigue, the models could prove to be a fantastic investment.”

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