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Barnfinding: Anatomy of a Porsche barn find

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I'm Adam Wright, and my brother Matt and I scour the country for long-lost Porsches. Some of our adventures make great stories, which I will share with you starting with this article for PCA.org. I hope you enjoy it and future tales. And if you have any stories you want to share, please do — I enjoy writing about other people’s escapades far more than my own. Please email me adam@unobtanium-inc.com


One of the best parts of my job is finding a large stash of Porsche parts and cars, but it can also be one of the worst parts, too. The hardest part is finding those long-lost stashes because they normally aren’t advertised. We finished up a two-truckload deal a couple weekends ago, and while everything was fresh on my mind I wanted to write up a breakdown of what a large deal entails.

Finding the stuff. Like I said, these stashes are not easy to find. They are normally Porsche hoarders or shops, not someone who has ever really sold parts or cars.

Once found, the stuff has to be bought. This can be very challenging, because if someone has been holding onto these parts for 30-50 years, they aren’t quick to let them go. It can almost be described as a suicide mission. There is usually a long line of people who have tried and failed to get the owner to sell, and you have to make possible what seems impossible. The trick is buying everything with enough margin to make money after the deal is said and done.

The logistics of a large deal, transporting large quantities of cars and parts. This recent deal was three cars and enough parts to fit into a full-size pickup and trailer and a full-size box truck. They were all packed up to the last inch of space. They were so weighted down that when I was in the Pennsylvania mountains with the pedal to the metal, I was only pushing 40 miles per hour! But before you can even get going you have to get all the parts from wherever they have been hiding for 30+ years. The “storage facility” is rarely clean, normally a dirty barn. In this case it was a dark and wet warehouse with a leaky roof that had knocked out all the lights. Adding to the misery, the standing water mixed with 90° heat made for what felt like a fungus-infested sauna. Once you get a crew together, in this case me, Big John, and my friend Scott, you have to touch every little part, pack them into bins, and get the haul into the truck and trailer. The ensuing transport home is normally a long distance, in this case 1,000 miles round trip.

Unloading the goods, when the real fun starts. Once at the final destination, it's time to unload. You must have enough room to sort the cars and parts after unloading before moving them to a warehouse for storage.

Once all of this is done, then and only then can you begin selling and start to make back your large investment.

So if you think it’s easy to do a large buy, it isn’t. It’s feeding and housing a crew far from home, driving long distances after dealing with what is probably an eccentric Porsche hoarder who probably wants a large pile of cash so he can bury it in his backyard. Sorting it takes forever, and all the while the heavy, old parts are greasy and the cars don’t always want to be moved — think wheels that don’t turn or engines that are falling through the floor of a rotting barn. But would I trade this job for any other job on the planet? The answer is hell no!

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