In a recent article, Hagerty Price Guide publisher Dave Kinney discussed trends in the classic car world, and he touched briefly on "barn finds."
It's been a few years now since collectors made a collective (no pun intended) shift in their thinking regarding these "lost" machines, seeing in them an inherent value as-is and choosing to preserve them that way rather than restoring them.
The latest high-profile discovery of a "lost" car comes to us from Michigan. The story begins on November 1, 2011, when bargain hunter Bobby Gene Goins spotted an old car piled high with junk at an estate sale. The car was unrecognizable but for the badge on the nose, which reads "Ferrari."
Goins returned the next day to clear away some of the detritus and snap some photos. The car's coachwork and interior were complete, though it was missing its engine. Then he turned to the Internet for a bit of research. He made another trip to the estate sale to examine the car's serial number, which read 0233 EU. In short order, Goins had identified his find: a 1952 Ferrari 212 Ghia Cabriolet, which made its debut at the 1952 Geneva Motor Show.
The seller had originally quoted Goins a price of $35,000, but after discovering the true nature of the car and its rarity, Goins made a larger offer, which we think was a stand-up thing to do. The seller accepted.
In the meantime, Goins reached out to experts at the Ferrari Club of America for more information on the car, and to try to lock down someone to buy the car from him.
By November 4, he had his man. Noted Ferrari collector and restorer Tom Shaughnessy made an offer claimed by local media to be $150,000. Shaughnessy's reach in the Ferrari world being what it is, he's also tracked down the missing engine.
It's not clear what's next for the 1952 Ferrari 212 Ghia Cabriolet, though certainly display on the lawns of some premier concours wouldn't be out of line. Should he ever decide to sell the car, an open-bodied Ferrari 212 could be expected to sell for more than $1 million.
In any case, this is a great story with a happy ending. The estate looks to have been compensated fairly. Goins looks to have been compensated fairly. And 0233 EU and its erstwhile powerplant are now in the best possible hands.
Click here to see the local news story on the find.
Stefan Lombard is Managing Editor of Hagerty magazine.