If you’re looking for a European barn find, you’re in luck. A few cars owned by an 82-year-old Dutch man named Ad Palmen are coming up for auction next month. When I say a few, I mean a lot. No fewer than 230 cars to shift, to be precise. That’s as impressive a collection as any we’ve seen.
[Ed Note: Someone sent me this CNN link about this barn find, and we figured The Autopian should share the cars with you, dear fellow car-cultists. -DT].
So how on earth does someone amass this many cars? Well, 230 cars over 40 years of collecting works out to roughly 5.75 cars per year. It’s a high number, but it doesn’t seem obscene when broken down like that. Of course, it also helps that Palmen made a career as a businessman and likely had enough disposable income to spend on all sorts of four-wheeled fascinations. Here’s the full story of the collection from classiccar-auctions.com:
Mr. Palmen started collecting cars approximately 40 years ago with a yellow Lancia B20 being the first car. Over the years his collection grew substantially. The variety is more than eclectic. He had a refined taste and extensive knowledge of rare and special cars as he was professionally dealing in similar cars from the mid 60’s before he started collecting.
The collection was stored in a church and two dry but dusty warehouses. Mr. Palmen was starting the cars on a regular basis to keep the engines from being seized. Most of the collection is in an unrestored and original condition. He kept the cars how they were when entering his warehouses and he almost did not sell anything after it was added to his collection. He rarely showed the collection to anyone, so very few people knew of its existence. The maintenance was mostly done by himself. You can definitely call it one of the best kept secret car collections of Europe.
Mr. Palmen loved Italian cars like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari. Plus, French Facel Vega’s and German BMW’s, Mercedes, and NSU’s. The British are well represented with Jaguars, Aston Martins, and Rolls-Royces, while American classics include Chevrolets, Cadillacs, and Fords. The collection also features Tatra, Monica, Moretti, Matra, Alvis, Imperia, and Villard.
In total there are more than 230 cars brought together in the main warehouse.
Due to the age of Mr. Palmen and various circumstances the collection will now be sold.
We hope the new owners will cherish them as much as he did.
It is unlikely that anyone will ever see a collection of this caliber and condition again in their lifetime.
It probably helped that the entire collection was allegedly a secret for a long time. Housed in a disused church and a two other buildings in Dordrecht, this collection embodies one man’s fascination with everything four-wheeled. Unfortunately, Palmen reportedly isn’t able to keep his astonishing fleet of vehicles anymore. So, a dealer called Gallery Aaldering run by father-and-son duo Nico and Nick Aaldering managed to buy up the lot for resale.
There’s a Lancia B4 Spider America and a Ferrari 365 somewhere in there, but the vast majority of the collection appears to be more attainable yet still lovely stuff. A quick perusal of several photographs turns up a second-generation Mazda RX-7 convertible, a Jaguar XJS, a Triumph TR3, an MG Midget, a Chevy Corvair, and a Mercedes-Benz C107 SLC. All great cars for enthusiasts on a reasonable budget today.
To say the Barnfind Collection is eclectic would be an understatement. How about a Messerschmitt bubble car, or a Studebaker Avanti? Perhaps a Matra Djet, a strange French sports car from the same people that brought us the Dassault missile, would catch your fancy? If you like your unusual cars forged from Detroit iron, there are two Corvairs in the collection, and there’s a Citroen SM if you want a spaceship for the road. There’s even an NSU Ro80, a gloriously weird rotary-engined sedan.
Of course, if it’s the deeply-pedigreed stuff you’re after, you don’t have to look far. In addition to the rare Lancia B4 Spider America and Ferrari 365, I spot several Facel Vegas, a Maserati Bora, a Mercedes-Benz W111 Coupe, and a Jaguar E-Type among many other rarities.
While some might say it’s a shame that these vehicles have been left to rot, I’m not actually sure how much rot has taken place. Sure, they’re all dustier than the top of your fridge, but the majority of them look quite tidy aside from some tire and textile degradation that just happens over time. Nothing’s rotting up top or bowing like a banana, they all just look like good candidates to clean up and drive. In some strange way, this hoarding of classic cars may have saved several from early deaths.
If you fancy having a piece of this unusual collection, it’s all up for grabs at auction through online auction house Classic Car Auctions (see more images at that link) starting on May 19. Of course, there’s a chance you might need to be in The Netherlands to actually remove your vehicle from the property, but the U.S. dollar to Euro exchange rate is still pretty good so consider this a solid excuse for a trip overseas. In the meantime, just take a look at the variety of metal here. I’d love to know what you want to drag home.
(Photo credits: Gallery Aaldering/classiccar-auction.com)
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