• This Month's Issue

    Red-Hot and Rapidly Rising: 1985 288 GTO $2.4m

    Why U.S. Customs is Destroying British Imports

    Mangustas: No Longer Undervalued

    Porsche 924S Provides Magic on a Budget

    Racing Past a Million: 1955 Austin-Healey 100S

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  • SCM Platinum

    Over 200 cars that sold at auction covered in every issue of SCM. Our market reports include detailed information about the vehicle, including VIN, condition, options, and expert analysis from SCM's auction reporters.

    SCM Platinum is the largest database of collector cars sold at auction. Over 150,000 vehicles, including over 59,000 with detailed write-ups from our auction reporters.

    Now optimized for your mobile devices!

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  • Glovebox Notes

    SCM doesn't just cover collector cars. Every week, SCM reviews a brand new car online and in our newsletters, and there are new reviews every month in the magazine. Thinking of buying a new car? Check out our reviews!

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  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

    The 2014 guide includes a calendar of events and detailed descriptions of 21 featured concours.

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Collector Car News

  • Classes and Dates Announced for Quail Lodge Events +

    The Quail Motorcycle Gathering Presented by TUDOR takes place Saturday, May 16. This day-long celebration of motorcycling heritage and performance continues with its "Legends of the Sport" series, honoring seminal figures in the sport of motorcycling. There will be more than 200 pre- and post-war motorcycles on display. The Quail Ride, a Read More
  • The Mercedes-Benz Sale — This Weekend in Stuttgart +

    Bonhams hosts The Mercedes-Benz Sale this Saturday, March 28, in Stuttgart, DEU. A 1938 540K Cabriolet A with Sindelfingen coachwork leads the consignments and is expected to fetch $2.2m–$2.7m. View all the cars here. View the catalog PDF here. Read More
  • Meet Keith Martin in Fort Lauderdale +

    SCM Publisher Keith Martin is filming episodes of What's My Car Worth? this weekend at Auctions America's sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL. If you see Keith, be sure and introduce yourself. The sale runs March 27-29, and headliners include a 1978 Aston Martin V8 Volante (AA estimate: $125k–$150k). View all the Fort Lauderdale Read More
  • Book Giveaway Winners +

    Congratulations to Jeff DeJoseph and Dowlin Mayfield, the winners of our book giveaway! Mazda MX-5 Miata: Twenty-Five Years is a handsomely illustrated coffee-table book celebrating Mazda's ground-breaking MX-5 Miata — the car that revolutionized the lightweight two-seater roadster market. Top Muscle features more than 150 jaw-dropping portraits of America's rarest Read More
  • Record Sales at Amelia Island 2015 +

    Preliminary totals from this weekend's Amelia Island sales are in! RM Sotheby's sales totaled $60.4m — a record for Amelia Island Auction Week. High-sale honors went to a 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet (pictured), sold at $6.4m. View all the sold prices here. Sales totaled $26.9m at Gooding & Company. 76 Read More
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Portuguese barn houses 180 cars, all covered with decades of dust

Huge collections like the one in Portugal don't just happen. Cars are accumulated by someone with a purpose



By Tom Cotter

One day this January, I received at least ten forwarded email attachments to a web site that featured photos of an eclectic collection of old cars in a decaying building. For the next week it seemed the web was literally blanketed with these images, each giving a similar story:

“Imagine moving into an old farmhouse in the Portuguese countryside, and, while walking around “the lower 40” of your new investment, you come across an old building. Curious as to what may be inside, you pry open the rusted door and for the first time in decades, one of the largest hordes of old cars ever discovered is exposed to sunlight.”

I didn’t believe that story for a moment.

Huge collections of cars don’t just happen. Cars are accumulated—sometimes lovingly, sometimes not—by someone with a purpose. I was sure this collection was not assembled by accident; nobody would simply sell an old farm and fail to mention to the new owners the stash of old cars in the barn.

I decided to investigate. I searched the web and ultimately came to an English language dead end at the Mazda Miata Club Norway web site. But I kept going, sending emails in English and hoping that some kind recipient would take a few moments to answer some questions. All indications were that the cars were hidden somewhere in Portugal, so that’s where I focused my investigation.

Through a Cobra buddy, Don Silawski of Washington, DC, I contracted with a Portuguese translator, Clara Dixon. Clara would be my tour guide and try to unearth some of the naked truth regarding this huge stash. Clara also checked the Internet for news stories that may have been written in Portuguese newspapers about the cars. I was beginning to feel like a CIA sleuth…

I must admit that for me, a lifelong barn-finder, a collection this large would be the discovery of a lifetime. My 15-year-old son, Brian, even tried to convince me to hop a flight to Portugal to see if I could actually find the collection myself.

I was eventually able to contact the photographer who was contracted by the cars’ owner to shoot the photographs that would ultimately appear on millions of car-guy computer monitors beginning on January 20.

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

Manuel Menezes Morais shot the photos, but he was sworn to secrecy about the cars’ location and the owner’s name. However, he was able to obtain permission from the elusive owner to give me the following information:

The owner of the cars was a car dealer in the 1970s and 1980s, and decided to save the more interesting cars that came through his doors. When the barn was full, he padlocked and “soldered” the doors shut. (Perhaps welding was too permanent.)

Web sites varied on the number of cars: 58, 100, and 180 were speculated. According to Morais, there are 180 cars in the barn.

And, aw shucks, none of the cars is for sale.

Clara was able to determine that the cars are located somewhere in the area of Sintra, near Lisbon.
I asked Morais if he could ask the owner if he had a favorite car. “He has lots of good cars in very good condition,” he says, “but he loves the Lancia Aurelia B24. He has two.”

I would ask that a European-based SCM subscriber pick this story up and help fill in the blanks. And let me know what you find ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). I’d like to include the true story in a future In the Barn book, as well as in SCM.

So, what's in there?

TOM COTTER is a contributing editor to Road & Track. The sequel to Cotter’s book Cobra in the Barn, to be called The Hemi in the Barn, will be published by Motorbooks this fall.

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