You would think that with all the money and resources dedicated to car restoration and collection, the best and rarest rides would have all just about been uncovered by now. But there are still thousands, maybe even tens-of-thousands, of valuable vehicles hiding inside old barns or rotting away in fields all over America. You just have to know what you’re looking for.
Cars in Barns has the story of the unearthing and restoration of a rare Shelby AC Cobra, all brought on by a simple propane delivery.
As the story goes, a propane delivery man saw an old sports car in a barn on one of his deliveries. He told a friend, who told a friend, who went and saw the barn’s owner to check the car out. He discovered the car was actually an early Shelby Cobra, ordered in 1963, and later owned by a chemist for Lilly Pharmaceuticals. Knowing it could easily be worth $80,000 or $90,000 at auction, he offered the chemist’s widow $30,000 for the car, which he had to beg and borrow from friends.
The buyer, named “Johnny” discovered that this Cobra, CSX2149 had just 21,000 miles on the odometer. It was originally white with red leather interior. The Chemist’s wife had convinced her husband after a few years that the small Cobra was unsafe to drive. He’d parked it, and junk had been accumulating around it ever since, it was likely long forgotten, just sitting in the barn waiting to be found.
Despite a raccoon tearing up most of the original interior, the 289 V8 engine was intact and the car was in overall decent condition. In fact even though it had not run in decades the story on this car says that they had the engine running in about 15 minutes with only a new battery and fresh fuel. Bids came in to buy the Cobra almost immediately and that $30,000 investment turned into a $30,000 profit once the Cobra was sold. Not a bad payday for a little bit of work and a knowledge of rare cars. The car was later refurbished and painted its original white color, leaving just a handful of original Cobras unaccounted for.
Keep those peepers peeled, you never know what you might find. The original story of this find appeared in a book by Tom Cotter called The Cobra in the Barn.