The British auction house that offered a derelict “barn-find” 1973 Ferrari Dino had described the sports car as “rotten as a pear” after decades of neglect in a soggy garage with a leaky roof.
But despite being impossibly rusted out, the Dino 246GT with just 13,492 miles on its odometer sold for a surprisingly impressive £132,250 ($222,000), including auction fees, at the Silverstone Auction sale Saturday at the Silverstone Circuit in Towcester, England. Thus continues the power of the barn-find classic car, or in this case garage-find, which has become something of a romantic ideal at auctions in recent years, gaining high interest and top values. Rare gems that were stashed away are being rediscovered and hauled out of their hiding places, then presented at auction in their as-found musty, dusty conditions. Original dirt has become a selling point, and a wash can damage a barn-find car’s value.
Often a special car’s rarity in unrestored condition boosts the value. Other times, it’s just the charmingly tarnished patina, like some archeological treasure unearthed from an ancient tomb. No such beauty here. Despite the ultra-low mileage, this poor Dino with its gaping rust damage looks good only for parts, such as the nearly unused drive train. The sad story goes that its English owner stuck the Ferrari in the garage after outrunning police, and then was fearful of getting caught if he ever drove it again. So there it sat, while the drip, drip of destruction in the damp climate did its worst over the course of nearly 40 years. The sale also bolsters the current strength of Ferrari’s V6-powered mid-engine Dino, which had languished for years with modest values. Another, more-polished 1971 Dino 246GT was the top seller at the same Silverstone auction, reaching £250,700, ($421,000) more than £70,000 ($117,000) above its low estimate. Earlier this month, a 1972 Dino that was originally owned by Rolling Stones rock-star Keith Richards sold at Coys’ auction in Monaco for £294,200 ($494,000), gaining just a slight bump from its celebrity status. Saturday’s auction at Silverstone achieved a 71 percent sell-through rate with total sales of more than £1.7million ($2.86 million). For complete results, see www.silverstoneauctions.com.