It's time to reclaim the barn find

Major Waffle
Enough is enough. It's time to reclaim the barn find. It's quite simple, if the car wasn't genuinely found in a car, it just isn't a barn find. OK?

Enough is enough - it's time to reclaim the barn find.

Once upon a time, the two words were used to describe a genuinely exciting discovery, conjuring up images of an old car, sat decaying in the corner, probably covered in moth-eaten blankets, a layer of dust and cobwebs thick enough to require a knife to cut through them.

Today, like the words 'celebrity', 'legendary' and 'iconic', the term 'barn find' seems to have lost its meaning. You probably have more chance of finding a genuine barn find in the countryside than you do a genuine barn find in the classifieds. Seriously, it has got to stop.

Ever helpful, PetrolBlog has some sage advice. And it starts here.

This is a barn:

[caption id="attachment_21611" align="aligncenter" width="1366"]This is a barn A barn, yesterday[/caption]

If you happen to have discovered a car sat in a building much like this, then yes, it could be a barn find. Congratulations.

However, it isn't a barn find if you knew it was there. Listing a Volvo 343 on eBay and stating it has been "kept in a barn since 1999" does not mean it's a barn find. Granted, it's been sat in a barn, but unless the barn is so vast you literally lost the Volvo, it is not a 'find'.

Similarly, listing a Maserati Biturbo as a barn find when it has been sat in your "storage unit for eight years" is just not on. You put the car there, so it is not a barn find.

There are currently 227 'barn finds' listed on eBay. Two-hundred-and-twenty-seven? There aren't enough unconverted barns in Britain to allow for so many cars. If there were, we'd be tripping over cars when we take our dogs for a walk in the countryside at the weekend.

Here are some other examples of sellers abusing the use of barn find to describe their cars:


  • Volkswagen Beetle "purchased for engine" - not a barn find
  • Austin Allegro "sat in garage for 10 years" - not a barn find
  • Ford Escort XR3 "used at French holiday home" - not a barn find
  • Vauxhall Astra GTE "bought it to restore" - not a barn find

Similarly, a 2006 Ford Focus Titanium or a 2001 Peugeot 206 parked in a disabled bay are unlikely to be genuine barn finds.

It's quite simple. Putting a Cavalier in a lock-up garage for a few years and then bringing it out to sell does not make it a barn find. Neither does parking an Escort on your front lawn for a decade and then deciding to move it on when the neighbours start to complain. And don't think you can tow the car to your nearest farmyard to take a few snaps of it on a trailer. That just won't work, sonny.

Definition of a barn find

I always had dreams of stumbling across an old car in a derelict barn. For some reason I thought it would be a Lotus Cortina, but quite frankly, anything would do. Just to peer through a gap in the barn door to see the outline of a car in the shadows. Maybe the sun would cast a little light as it shines through a small gap in the barn's roof, just enough to make out some of the car's finer details. Naturally you'd have to go in for a closer look.

How did the car get there? How long had it been there? Who could I ask to secure its purchase? So many questions.

Perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to find something worthy of the classification. Until then, I'll be forced to sift through the 'not barn finds' on eBay.