What's The Most Disappointing Barn Find?

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Every so often, you’ll hear a great story about someone who found a really freakin’ neat (or obscenely rare) car buried out in a barn somewhere. And those are cool and all, but what are the odds of that happening to most of us Average Joes? This isn’t a blog about the good stuff. I want to hear about your very worst barn finds, or the worst ones you’ve heard about.


Growing up in rural Michigan, there were two things I could count on: cool cars and abandoned houses. And with literally nothing better to do with my life as a wee child, my brother and I frequently wandered out into the middle of the woods to see what we could find.

One day, my brother comes running up to the house all red-faced and breathless. “You guys,” he told us through chest-heaving pants, “I found something really cool.”


“A car! A really cool car! It’s in the woods! Come on!”

We were all fiends for the good barn find. Where we lived, it was surprisingly pretty common to find a dilapidated Model T chassis out in the woods surrounded by trees that had grown up in the dirt road leading out to someone’s secluded woodland home. We held out the hope that one day we’d find one in relatively decent condition—maybe this was that day!

What we found instead was what my dad guessed was a Pontiac GTO tucked under a very flimsy lean-to, not that he was particularly confident in that assessment. Most of the bodywork had been crushed, dented, or otherwise ripped off. The hood was nowhere to be found. It was surrounded by beer bottles and smelled like it had become a communal toilet for a whole host of woodland dwellers. There wasn’t even enough car left to break ourselves off a souvenir.

My brother maintained that it was the coolest thing he’d ever found out in the woods until we found a bunch of WWII medals buried in the rubble of a rotted out cabin. Since then, I have not been able to bring myself to believe in the mystique of the barn find.


What’s the worst one you found? Or at least, the worst one you heard about online, from a friend or elsewhere?

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


Mercedes Streeter

Not a barn find but a field find: My Festiva kart project. It sat in a soggy Wisconsin field for so long that it’s now too crusty to be worth restoring. No car deserves that.

I can’t even fill the tank past half without it spilling like a colander. Thankfully it’s solid enough to be a little road legal side by side Gambler 500 car at least for a year, hopefully two. Better than sitting in that field longer until it couldn’t even support its own weight anymore.

Already stripped it down to basically nothing. Now I just need to cut some fenders, mount my snow tires, apply roof rack, and RGB everything!