When you think of the term “barn find,” it’s fairly typical for images of disused MGs and Porsches to start bubbling up through your imagination. Car enthusiasts often dream of sweeping up the near-mythical sports car everyone forgot about for a song and dance, and then getting it back on the road for the sake of enjoyment. While today’s barn find still comes in an open-topped, two-seat form, these cars have their feet planted firmly in the digital era. Three allegedly brand-new 2010 Tesla Roadsters were recently found in shipping containers, and they’re up for grabs through Roadster specialist Gruber Motor Company.
The story goes that three Tesla Roadsters were purchased brand-new by a Chinese customer, shipped to China, and then forgotten about. According to Gruber Motor Company, “They have been sitting in sea containers, at a port, since 2010, untouched, acquiring storage charges.” While the seller is reportedly paying off the storage charges, don’t expect the cars to be easy to recommission.
So, let’s take a closer look at the cars. The three roadsters in question are VINs 1107, 1120, and 1146: A 2010 Roadster Sport in Radiant Red, a 2010 Roadster Sport in Very Orange, and a 2010 Roadster Base in Very Orange, respectively. Granted, visual condition is a bit difficult to make out because if I had a dollar for every pixel in these photos, I’d have 25 cents. Still, the leather-wrapped dashboards don’t seem to be lifting, the paint looks to be in okay shape, and the cars all allegedly come with stuff.
Each Roadster reportedly comes with a small box in the car which is likely charging equipment, along with a big box alongside each car which could be their respective hardtops. The Sport got slightly quicker acceleration than the base model with a claimed zero-to-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds vs 3.9 seconds, but that seems to be largely theoretical in this case. See, modern EV barn finds are unlike combustion-powered barn finds for one big reason: Battery packs discharge over time.
While combustion-powered cars that have been dormant for years may be able to start after spinning over their engines and hooking up fresh fuel, and crap-era EVs just need their lead-acid batteries replaced, the sophisticated lithium-ion packs of modern EVs are a very different proposition. Not only do they lose charge just sitting, go long enough without plugging them into the mains and you may be left with useless cells. These battery packs can also be incredibly expensive to replace if they’re well and truly bricked. InsideEVs reports that a replacement Roadster battery pack costs $32,000, and these packs seem to be unobtanium as Tesla reportedly stopped selling them in 2019.
As we touched on earlier today, the past decade or so’s crop of EVs might be difficult to keep on the roads as classics due to the potential of battery pack supply drying up completely. While I wouldn’t be surprised if third-party battery packs for some popular older EVs start cropping up soon, specialty models like the Tesla Roadster might be left out in the cold.
Right now, all three of these Roadsters are expensive gambles. Gruber Motor Company says to expect all three cars to be bricked, which means they’re most likely some very expensive paperweights. However, I reckon that not all is lost, and that whoever buys these just needs to find three more ropey Roadsters. If these were truly parked when new, the bodies and suspension components and all that jazz should be in good shape. All they theoretically need in terms of major components are battery packs out of totaled Roadsters to be great runners again. A new lease on life is possible, but likely only if suitable organ donors are found. Regardless, all three Roadsters are reportedly headed to the states by the middle of May if a local buyer isn’t found in China, which gives plenty of time to ponder: What do you do with modern EV barn finds?
(Photo credits: Gruber Motor Company)
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