By on August 10, 2016

1958 Ford Thunderbird (Stephen Velden/Flickr)

Pitchforks and dung aside, the world’s barns often hold undiscovered treasures, from the 1974 Volkswagen Beetle that sold for $43,000 in June, to a bumper crop of Ford Thunderbirds recently uncovered near Grand Rapids, Michigan.

According to the Detroit Free Press, an unnamed family recently called a Wayland auction house in the hopes of making a sale. The item? The contents of a barn containing about 50 classic cars, including a bevy of Thunderbirds from the porthole to basket handle eras.

In total, 28 Thunderbirds ranging from restorable to drive away condition resided in the barn, along with classic Lincoln Continentals, Cadillacs, a couple of 1970s motorhomes, and some less-classic vehicles (Lincoln Versailles, anyone?). The vehicles haven’t been driven in 30 years, and besides the family who sold them, no one knew they existed.

The vehicles are featured in an estate auction that went live this morning at Repocast.com. Act fast if you’ve got the time and the cash to bring one of these beauties (or the Versailles) back onto the road.

Most of the Thunderbirds date from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, with bodies in good condition. Finding a cache of undiscovered classics this large is rare, but it’s nice to know that more vehicles without plastic front fascias will soon return to the road.

[Image: Stephen Velden/Flickr]

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31 Comments on “T-Bird Treasure Trove Found in Michigan Barn, and They Can Be Yours...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “The vehicles haven’t been driven in 30 years”

    Kind of a tall order on the ’90 Country Squire with 89k on it.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, that Silverado triple blue ultra brougham edition is fantastic.

    http://auction.repocast.com/details.cfm?ID=2766466#photos

    The original Blackwood, this one.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I am more and more surprised that these magical finds are still made. At lest for what most would consider classics.

    I just don’t understand why I don’t have a barn on some property I should be inheriting that has an old E-Type, or a Ferrari 250, or a Mk II GT-40, DB-9, Miura, ……

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Be still my heart ……….. a low mileage, original conditioner, designer edition 1976 Mark IV. Not the Pucci that I dream about, but still….

    Also a couple of nice 460 cid ’76 T-Birds, just about as nice as the Mark IV.

    But I would not give you a plugged nickel for either the ’77 or the ’79 T-Birds. I had a new ’78 and it was probably the worst vehicle dollar for dollar that I ever owned/leased/drove.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I don’t know…that Versailles in two-tone blue is *just* funky enough to be kinda cool…

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      With the 351? I don’t see why they get such a bad rap. Just because its based on the Granada, which was based on the Maverick, which was based on the Falcon, hell that just means “four door Mustang” to me! Lol

      From what I understand, they did have important upgrades over the Granada (available 351, 4-wheel disk brakes, higher quality paint/interior materials, etc), their real fault was bearing more than a passing resemblance to their low-rent donors. Cadillac’s rival was based on the Nova, after all, but nobody thought it was a Nova when they saw it from 30 feet away.

      I don’t really have the desire to own it, though, but at the time, I don’t think it was the worst way to spend your money.

      The only car on that list I actually like would be the baby ‘Bird, and maybe the Model A. The rest, meh.

      • 0 avatar
        operagost

        Some guy will probably just buy the Versailles so he can drop the rear end into his Mustang.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Perish the thought.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            “Some guy will probably just buy the Versailles so he can drop the rear end into his Mustang.”.
            .
            Happens all the time .
            .
            When it was a 12 year old used car , a buddy called me to to give me his Mother’s two door , clean and ran O.K. , AC died as did the air bags in the suspension and the $tealer wanted over $1,000.00 EACH plus labor to install…..
            .
            I had no use for it so off to Pick-A-Part it went for $75 or so .
            .
            -Nate

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The only one that caught my eye was the Boattail Riviera. Unfortunately a ’73 but the body looks good, great colour combo and the rare bucket seats with console shift.

  • avatar

    I’d kinda like to have a ’60 T’bird. Unfortunately almost all the listed T’birds don’t have air conditioning. And I didn’t see a single one with the optional 430 engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      If you had the time & money to bring one of those nightmare projects to fruition wouldn’t installing A/C be feasible?

      • 0 avatar

        Feasable I suppose. The back of the dash and the dash supports are different for a non-a/c car. The ’58-’60 box birds were some of the first cars to have the vents in the dash and that’s what I’d want.

        There are some pretty neat vintage air addons for these cars but it’s just not the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Every single time I see a comment from WhiskeyRiver, Willie Nelson’s version starts playing in my head. Every single time.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVI4dzbYXMc

      Not a bad earworm.

      Whiskey River, take my mind
      Don’t let her mem’ry torture me.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Good thing no one here uses “Karma Chameleon” as a user name. It’s friggin’ torture to have that playing on endless loop for hours.

        “red, gold and green…”

  • avatar

    The Freep article missed the real treasures: A GMC Motorhome sold for $700, not running. There were two more that were listed in run & drive condition that sold for $4,930 and $2,075.

  • avatar
    RS

    Pretty poor planning that this auction gets stories published the day of the auction. What would those prices be with some better promotion and a longer auction time?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    If those cars haven’t been driven on at least a semi-regular basis, then they are dry-rotted, so aside from the bodies and certain other parts, they are mostly worthless.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I wouldn’t say these cars are worthless, it will just take some work to get them running. In a Global market the Thunderbirds would be worth more than you would think. Even some of the parts cars have value to restorers who are looking for some hard to find parts. The Swedes collect old Detroit iron from the 50’s and 60’s and will come to the USA and search for these old cars and send them back home. There was a junkyard segment on TTAC a few years ago featuring a 1957 Chrysler Windsor (a car my parents drove us from Dayton, OH to Houston, TX when we moved in August of 1958) and in that article Murilee made a comment about the Swedes buying these old cars and shipping them home. The bodies are in good shape with little rust and the interiors are decent which can actually cost more to restore than getting the vehicles running especially old T-Birds. These cars should have been better promoted and been available for bidding for a longer time. The auction house did not maximize the sales potential of these vehicles.

  • avatar
    tanooki2003

    The only Thunderbirds that I would deem fit for rescuing, restoration are the Aero Thunderbirds from 1983-1988, preferably an Elan model from 1986 or TurboCoupes from all years.
    Also I can’t forget the MN12 based Thunderbirds from 1993-1997, supercoupe models.
    Yes I left the 1989-1992 models out for a reason.

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