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Modern Archaeology – Barn Find 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider Sells for $18.5 Million

Alain Delon and Jane Fonda in a 1-of-37 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

Alain Delon and Jane Fonda in a 1-of-37 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

As go, one is just as likely to find a good one on craigslist as in some old lady’s barn, although one is just as apt to find some pretty bad examples, rusted-out hulks or hackneyed restoration botches. Some have had success uncovering pretty impressive “barnfinds,” that is, classic cars that someone bought and simply tucked away in a garage or storage facility, or a barn. This is the stuff that Auction Hunters and Storage Wars participants dream about.

In what could be one of the most astounding barnfinds in history, we draw your attention to a collection of rotting hulks in France, The Baillon Collection, containing some rare cars, indeed. The original collector imagined he would build a museum honoring these classic cars, including famous automakers and custom-builds, such as Maserati, Ferrari, Chapron, and Saoutchik. All told a number of cars in The Baillon Collection fetched prices far in excess of their estimated auction prices, $28.5 million in total.

Part of the Baillon Collection, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was found under piles of French automobile magazines, and eventually sold for $18.5 million.

Part of the Baillon Collection, this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was found under piles of French automobile magazines, and eventually sold for $18.5 million.

For example, a certain Talbot Lago T26 Cabriolet, which was originally thought to belong to King Farouk, of Egypt, was discovered to actually have belonged to Salah Orabi and Princess Nevine Abbas Halim. The car’s illustrious history notwithstanding, unique and lost to history, fetched $843,280 at auction. As impressive as that is, it’s quite possible that no one will ever encounter a barnfind such as the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, found next to a 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Frua, both interred under old canvas tarps and stacks of La Vie de l’Auto (Auto Life).

Despite having sat for over fifty years, the Ferrari was in remarkable condition. As if that wasn’t enough, this particular 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider is one of just thirty-seven were ever built, making it an even rarer find. This car, chassis number 2935, was actually thought to be lost. The Baillon Collection 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was bought new by famous French actor Alain Delon, after which it eventually was sold three more times to successive owners. The last buyer, Robert Baillon, tucked away this beauty, in hopes of one day building his automobile museum. It never happened, and the car sat unnoticed and forgotten for over a half-century.

Never wrecked, rebuilt, or restored, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider sold at auction for $18.5 million, becoming one of the world’s most-expensive cars ever sold at auction. Actually, it came in at number five, following the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, $38.1 million, 1954 Mercede-Benz W196 Silver Arrow, $29.6 million, 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 D NART Spider, $27.7 million, and the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale, $26.4 million. Ferrari, much?

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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