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Sunday
May062012

News Flash: Barn Find Fetish officially Jumps the Shark

I've been getting pretty sick of reading auction results for some time. Mainly because each auction further cements the fact that I won't be getting any amazing classic cars for quite some time. Or maybe never, the way prices of even odd cars like the Jensen Interceptor have been going lately.  But this latest Bonhams result really pissed me off in ways that surprise even me.The car in question is the "oldest unrestored mini in the world" and supposedly the 8th car off the assembly line.  The car has sat since 1985, and is in "barn find" condition --an original and unmolested car, as they say.  Other than a replaced drivers door, the car is just as it left the factory on July 31st, 1959-- other than the fact that it's a rusty, immobile piece of shit.The car may be "unmolested" but it was undeniably neglected, and terribly so.  And the person who paid a mind-bending 65,000 USD (!) for one of the most common cars on the planet is buying into what has become a sickening fetish for neglect, driven by auction houses, that really has started to get under my skin. For a while, I enjoyed the idea of cars being found in original condition and nourished back to driveable condition without being overrestored, as with the famous barn find Bugatti T57 Atalante sold at Greenwich a few years back. That car is now roadworthy, but mostly unrestored, and kudos to its owner. But lately, between Peter Mullin's lake-bottom, lightly crushed Bugatti artifact and this utterly ruined Mini I feel like some car collectors have forgotten what the point of originality is. And whatever constituted the definition of "unmolested" as been tossed to the four winds.
Unmolested, to any reasonable person, means that the car has been maintained regularly, kept in stock specification, and still has matching numbers. Original paint and interior are icing on that cake.  But let me ask my fair-minded readers: Which is preferable? Rotten and torn original upholstery, or reupholstered seats replaced with original style material?  Which is preferable: a quality respray from a 10 year old rolling restoration, or "original paint" intermingled with with rust all over the place because the previous owner was a hoarder who didnt give a fuck about his car for multiple decades while it sat and decomposed under a tarp? We give these hoarders far too much praise for "preserving history" when we should be asking them why the hell they couldn't bother to be better custodians of the historical artifacts they owned for so long. These high auction prices are just sanctioning this abuse and neglect, and frankly, I reject that idea. It was one thing when this "patina fetish" was confined to very rare cars like Bugattis and Delahayes that were usually neglected due to being hidden during the war, and due to the scarcity of parts in the following decades. It became more debatable when less rare classics like Gullwing 300SLs were on the block in this condition.

But no Mini owner has any excuse for not fixing their car and keeping it running. There was never a scarcity of OEM parts for these cars. They made millions of Minis! About 10,700 of them were made in 1959 alone! So enough with the barn finds. Enough with the auction house Kool-Aid!  How about some garaged, frequently driven, lovingly maintained cars in a decent state? Shouldn't that be worth more than an immobile rust bucket, no matter what chassis number it has?

via Jalopnik.

Also read about the car's discovery by an Autoblog UK editor HERE

Reader Comments (7)

The buyers of this overvalued (understatement) monstrosity are likely the same mongrels who keep gem perfect speculative purchases in their garage; wasting away without any use or art. I like authenticity, originality, and history just as much as the next car geek-----but only when it's functional and when the car retains its original vision. I hardly think Mini built these to rust and decay into undriveability. This is hardly a Bugatti barn find.....in fact this makes me wonder what the market is for 97 year old women who are still virgins---- because thats what this is. Oh gross....the market is only as crazy as the people are.
May 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersyed
It would be interesting to know what value this era of Mini would acheive if it was in roadworthy condition?..If it was double this (which in its own right is utterly ludicrous), then it could make the price of this seem in some sense fair. But if this price purely reflects ''originality'' then it means that any tom dick or harry who buys ANY car and lets it sit until it is rotten and then is actually positively rewarded, then it's a disgrace. At what point is this car worthless? Does it now have to be kept in this rotten suspended animation just to keep any future value?
May 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjonathan
I'll never understand this, I think thats easy for me to say though because I dont have (and never will have) the type of money to own something like this. If I had money to blow and wanted something bad enough I could see me spending some stupid amount to get it. But in the mean time, that isnt going to happen. So I can sit here and be pissed too, that someone actually spent this type of money on something they could have bought restored or in working condition for a lot less. Its stupid, and a waste of money in my opinion. It boggles my mind when I watch Barret Jackson or Mecum, how much cars go for these days. I hope Im able to get some of my dream cars before the prices go through the roof because of "popularity". In all honesty, I could never buy or do something like a "frame off" resto anyway. I would never drive it, if something were to happen to it I couldnt imagine how I would feel. Especially after probably spending a fortune to get it. I would much rather have a "rolling resto" for a lot less like you had mentioned in the article.
May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex B.
I couldn't agree more. When I first saw this story on Jalopnik I mistakenly thought it would be about the "Oldest (running) unrestored Mini in the world". I figured it would be about a car that was maintained to a point that a full restoration was never necessary. When I found out it was just a broken down, neglected car, that was just left to sit I thought: okay, now it will get sold to someone who appreciates it, and hopefully they will get it back to running condition, and maybe they will keep the patina for originality sake. Now after seeing it sold for $65,000 I'm concerned that the buyer will have only bought it as a trophy piece, and it will just sit there in the same condition, instead of being driven like it should be. At the end of the day that's what cars are about, that's what they are made for, and that's what they should do. I really hope that this story has a happy ending and the car gets to see the road again, because any other ending makes it a story about someone who spent way to much for a ridiculous symbol of whats wrong in car culture.
May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOther Jonathan
Well Said!
May 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterBradley Price
A fool and his money.... [I'm sure at least some of you know the rest.]
May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNoah Vale
No, but I'll give you $1000 to tell me.
February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Other Other White Meat

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