In August 2004, Hurricane Charley ripped through the city of Kissimmee in Central Florida, where a ramshackle barn was storing 20 vintage Ferrari race cars belonging to real-estate developer Walter Medlin. As the storm bore down, the unthinkable happened: the roof collapsed and the barn crumbled, damaging the precious Prancing Horses with falling debris and exposing them to the elements. (They were then whisked to safer storage in Indianapolis.)
Now, nearly 20 years later, the so-called Lost & Found collection is headed to an RM Sotheby’s auction (August 17–19) as part of Monterey Car Week in California, the world’s leading automotive event.
“It’s the first time that RM Sotheby’s has presented a barn find collection of this magnitude,” explained Rob Myers, Chairman and CEO. “While a select group of Ferrari collectors knew about the existence of these extraordinary cars, the rest of the world remained unaware—a true embodiment of the barn find concept.”
Here’s the twist: the cars have remained untouched and unrestored since that fateful day. They still exhibit broken windows, crushed headlights, rust decay, and other scars of neglect. In fact, Sotheby’s plans to recreate the collapsed barn where the Ferraris were found, displaying them in a deliberately derelict diorama in Monterey, fallen beams and all.
“They’re still covered in dust, sitting on flat tires, and not running,” said Thatcher Keast, RM Sotheby’s car specialist, “basically as they were when the barn collapsed on them.” Still, despite their shambolic condition—or perhaps because of it—he expects the Italian exotics to haul as much as $20 million, an average of $1 million per car.
All the lots come with riveting provenance. Some took part in major European races like Targa Florio, Mille Miglia, and Le Mans, while one of them, the 1956 250 GT Coupe Speciale, was sold to royalty. King Mohammed V of Morocco bought the vehicle just after the country achieved independence from France. It was he who specified the Celeste blue color rather than Ferrari’s traditional rosso corsa, or racing red. The car is currently in need of a complete overhaul, yet its engine with matching numbers means it could still bring $1.7–$2.3 million.
The Ferrari likely to yield the highest bid is a 1965 275 GTB, displayed at the Turin Motor Show that year and which later took part in Targa Florio, a race held on the mountain roads near Palermo, Sicily. The long-nose model was the first to be outfitted with six carburetors and a lightweight alloy body. It did not sustain significant damage from Hurricane Charley and could achieve $2–$2.5 million at the auction.
The most storied Ferrari of the sale is the 500 Mondial Spider Series I by Pinin Farina from 1954. At that year’s Mille Miglia, the car was driven to fourth place in class and 14th overall. However, during a race in the 1960s, the car was involved in a crash and caught fire that caused its near total destruction. Despite the severe damage (occurring well before the hurricane), the charred hunk of metal is expected to fetch $1.2–$1.6 million. Sotheby’s even says it could be restored to its former glory by a “caretaker with the proper vision and resources.”