Classic car collectors can be a curious breed. A bidder at Richard Edmonds Auctions in Chippenham bid £16,500 this month for a 1930 Austin 7 Boat Tail Tourer which was the epitome of a ‘barn find’.
It had been bought by the current vendor in 1957, used daily for a year, then lay dismantled until now because of breakdowns.
It was towed to a Cheltenham workshop, then 10 years ago ended up in the barn, minus engine, wheels and rear axle. And therein may lie the appeal for collectors in this field – a restoration project like few others.
Motoring journalist Nigel Boothman told ATG: “It's not a common model but neither is it vanishingly rare and special.
“Barn finds have developed a kind of kudos – cars covered in dust and pigeon dung never used enjoy that appeal – but high-value sales in that condition can now happen to upper-end marques such as Aston Martin, Jaguar and Ferrari. The thrill of having something that concours judges or rivals on prestigious rallies have never seen before is believed to be worth a big premium.
“In recent years 1960s Astons have sold repeatedly in rough barn-find condition for very similar sums to the cost of a shiny restored one. If the same thing starts happening with Austin 7s and their ilk – and I’m not at all sure it will – owners of cobwebbed classics everywhere will feel like dancing.”
Auctioneer Richard Edmonds and his team found the Austin 7 body along with three other Austin 7s in the disused barn. The June 16-18 sale featured 16 Austin 7s in total.
Edmonds said: “It’s very hard to know why one lot sells for more than another, but in this case I think we had some very keen bidders at the sale looking for a restoration project. The body sold for £18,480 [including buyer’s premium] while the roadworthy Austin 7s in the same sale went for £6000-12,000 each.”
The Austin 7 was one of the most popular cars produced for the British market. More than 290,000 were made from 1922-39. According to the Austin7.org website: “When the ‘Seven’ was introduced in 1922 it was intended for, and succeeded in, providing four-wheeled transport that the average working family could afford. It was built by the Austin Motor Co at Longbridge, Birmingham, from 1922-39 and during that time a number of different body styles were fitted to the basic chassis and running gear.
“Austin produced tourers, two-seater sports cars, saloons and light van versions of the ‘Seven’. The chassis and running gear was used as the basis of models built by many specialist coachbuilders. The ‘Seven’ was exported across the world and also produced under licence in America, Australia, France, Germany and Japan.”