• This Month's Issue

    Level Flier: At $220k, This Fighter-Plane-Inspired '09 Spyker Lands Close to Its Original MSRP

    $575k 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk I

    Viva l'Italia! In the Driver's Seat at Villa d'Este, the Mille Miglia and Modena Cento Ore

    Fast-Rising Collectible: "The Fast and the Furious" '93 Supra Stunt Car Hurtles to $200k

    Slow-Rising Collectible: Karmann Ghias Gain Ground

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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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Recent Blog Posts

  • Graham Hill Describes a Lap at Monaco in 1968 +

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  • Just the Amazon and Me +

    Last Saturday I did something I haven’t done in quite a while — I took a little road trip by myself. It’s been a typically hectic few months. I’ve attended car events in Italy, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington, but I haven’t had any “alone time” with my cars. The Read More
  • From Pencil to Metal +

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  • A Weekend With The Gunnison Car Club +

    Once a year The Gunnison Car Club, under the able direction of Mike Callihan, takes over downtown Gunnison, Colorado, filling the streets with street rods, muscle cars, sports cars and pickups. This year the club selected me to receive The Lee Iacocca Award. Gunnison is 224 miles from the Denver International Airport Read More
  • Quick Takes from the Monterey Week +

    Driving up Highway 101 from Monterey to the San Francisco airport, it was clear that the ball was over. Instead of Monterey Car Week’s sea of candy-colored Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches, a swarm of Kias, Toyotas and Chevrolets peppered the landscape. An occasional modern Fiat 500 served as the token Read More
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Collector Car News

  • Meet Keith Martin at the Chantilly Concours +

    SCM Publisher Keith Martin returns to France this weekend for the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille event, taking place September 6 in Chantilly. Martin serves as a concours judge for Citroën Special Bodyworks. (The SCM Collection does include a Méhari after all.) Other classes include:  • The Untouched Open Cars from the Read More
  • 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Headlines RM Sotheby's London Sale +

    RM Sotheby's expects a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France to fetch between $6.9m and $8.5m at their September 7 London sale. The car is an early single-louver example with covered headlights and period competition history. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • 1965 Shelby Cobra "Dragonsnake" Offered at Worldwide Auburn +

    A 1965 Shelby Cobra "Dragonsnake" snarls to the auction block September 5 at Worldwide Auctioneers' 8th Annual The Auburn Auction. The auction takes place in Auburn, Indiana. View all the consignments here. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • Auctions America Offers 1929 Duesenberg Model J at Auburn Fall +

    A 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy (Auctions America estimate: $1.5m–$1.75m) crosses the auction block at Auctions America's Auburn Fall sale, September 2–6 in Auburn, Indiana. View all the cars here. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • Monterey Recap: Preliminary Sales Total $392m +

    Monterey Car Week is over, and the last gavel has dropped, but auction companies continue to bring together buyers and sellers behind the scenes. Here are the preliminary numbers that have been confirmed so far: RM Sotheby's reported Monterey sales exceeding $172.7m — an increase of 20% over last year's Monterey 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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