Restoring an old, vintage car back to its former glory can cost a fortune—apart from buying the car itself, you need to shell out some serious bucks to get the repairs done. However, some avid car collectors don’t mind the hefty price tag just as long as these classic beauties are brought back to life. Here are six amazing classic car restoration stories that will blow your mind.
1. The Doctor’s Ride: 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante
What makes it special: Only 17 units of this rare French coupe were manufactured in 1937. Some of these units are housed in museums while this particular one disappeared more than 70 years ago.
The story: The owner of the car, Dr. Harold Carr, was a doctor, engineer, and businessman who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). He was considered an eccentric and a recluse by those who knew him. During the latter part of his life, the doctor developed a hoarding instinct, which involved collecting anything from receipts, beer steins, to luxury cars. And as with most of his collections, he hid the Atalante in a garage along with a Jaguar and an Aston Martin. When he died in 2007, his cars were discovered by one of his nephews. The Atalante was sent to Bonhams to be auctioned and it became the highlight of the 2009 Retromobile car show in Paris, selling for a whopping $8.8 million.
2. The Barn Find: 1964 Porsche 911
What makes it special: The 911 was first sold in 1964, making these early models extremely rare and valuable. In fact, Jerry Seinfeld bought one of these in 1996 for over $400,000.
The story: This 1964 Porsche 911 was found rotting in barn in 1993 by Bob Hahn—a specialist in classic Porsches. Bob traveled from the Netherlands to the United States in search of old classic cars. And during one of his trips, he spotted this 1964 Porsche 911 at the back of a workshop. According to the shop owner, the car was previously owned by a German who visited California for the holidays. Upon his return to Germany, however, he abandoned the car and was repeatedly sold before it landed in the workshop where it has been lying on the same spot for over 20 years. Sadly, the car was missing its engine and a lot of other components. But aside from some dust and dirt, its exterior remained free of rust. Bob Hahn purchased the car for $9,500 to restore it to its original glory.
3. The Million Dollar Race Car: 1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta
What makes it special: Only 25 units of the 166MM Barchetta were ever made and it’s considered as the car that put Ferrari on the map. This 2-liter V12 vehicle was made when Ferrari was only 3 years old, but it already displayed styling cues that the brand would be known for such as the egg crate grille.
The story: For years, this 1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta was tucked inside a barn in Italy before it was featured in a showroom in Switzerland and bought for a measly $8,000. It was then shipped to California where its new owner got it running and drove it up to Arizona. After using it for a few friendly races, the Ferrari broke down and was dumped in a backyard without a decent cover. When the owner died after 40 years, his children found this gem in their backyard and word quickly got out. A lot of Ferrari seekers heard the news and this barn find was eventually sold to Manny Del Arroz for more than a million dollars.
4. The Entombed Vehicle: 1967 Jaguar XKE Roadster
What makes it special: The beautiful 1967 Jaguar Roadster is considered as the XKE model’s peak. This sports car is furnished with a 4.2-liter overhead cam 6-cylinder engine, a synchromesh transmission, and a clean headlight cover.
The story: Most of the cars in this list are rare finds from either a garage or a barn. However, this 1967 Jaguar XKE Roadster was found entombed in a carport. The carport was sealed with a brick wall since the 90s, depriving the Jaguar of any exposure to sunlight. When the car was uncovered several years ago, it appeared to be in good shape, save for some interior components. But with several repairs and a major cleaning job, the car is now fully restored.
5. The 3-Decade Restoration: 1933 McLaughlin Buick Coupe
What makes it special: The Canadian-built 1933 McLaughlin Buick Coupe is a very rare vehicle and it’s packed with unique features that are not available for its American counterparts. This Series 80 Victoria coupe was created by General Motors Canada using parts shipped from the United States.
The story: How long do you think will it take you to do a full car restoration? Maybe a few months? A year? Well, how about 3 decades? This is what Peter Trant had to do to achieve perfection in restoring his 1933 McLaughlin Buick Coupe. Trant bought the rundown Buick in 1966 for $300 and he initially intended to restore it by doing a quick repair. However, upon discovering that the McLaughlin’s floorboard was imprinted with the words “Not For Production”, he knew that the vehicle was special and needed extra attention. Though the Buick’s body was generally intact, a lot of its interior components were already rotten. Apart from the chrome plating and the final paint job, Trant performed all the restorations himself, including the meticulous woodwork.
6. The Exhumed Car: Ferrari Dino 246 GTS
What makes it special: This car was dug up from sand like an Egyptian mummy. ‘Nuff said.
The Story: In 1978, a group of kids allegedly found what appeared to be the roof of a car after digging up some mud in West Athens, Los Angeles. The kids flagged down a sheriff’s cruiser to share their discovery and the long and arduous process of digging up the car began. With a skip loader and several shovels, the police unearthed a Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, which had been reported stolen in 1974. As it turns out, this car was all part of an elaborate insurance scam. The owner of the car, Rosendo Cruz from Alhambra, California, hired burglars to steal his own car on December 7, 1974. The burglars were then supposed to harvest the parts and sink the car somewhere off the coast. But since the Dino 246 GTS was such a beauty, they couldn’t get themselves to do it. Instead, they chose to bury the car where the kids found them. Fast forward to 1978, the car is turned over to the insurance company after the investigation. The company then sells the car to its new owner Brad Howard who supervised its restoration. To know more about the Dino’s dirty history, get the full story here.
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