A few years back, the car world was inundated with stories about a secret cache of cars tucked away in a barn in Portugal. Like rumors of lost treasure, the legend grew bigger than the truth, and it helped barn-find mania to take hold, sweeping through the car world and turning the balance of value upside-down.
Now, over a decade later, the find is still as hot as ever — even if the barn is no longer strictly required. Cars that hold the distinction of being special and untouched — even if that means they need literally everything — continue to be in demand.
How far can a neglected original fly?
Fly, you say?
We’re about to find out. Mecum has just announced that it will be selling Elvis Presley’s long-neglected 1962 Lockheed JetStar 1329 at its collector car auction in Kissimmee, FL this January. One of several airplanes owned by Presley, this jet is sitting in storage in Roswell, New Mexico, and will need to be disassembled and trucked to its new home.
The jet isn’t complete — it’s missing a bunch of its instruments and its twin Pratt & Whitney engines — but it still has its red velour interior, gold fittings and the unmistakable swagger left behind by its one-time owner, the King of rock and roll himself.
This isn’t the first time aircraft have been sold as part of a collector car auction. Barrett-Jackson sold a Ford Tri-Motor at its Scottsdale sale back in 2009 for $1,210,000 — that plane had been in Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack and had been restored to flying condition. Bonhams sold a two-seat Supermarine Spitfire at the RAF Museum at Hendon for £1,739,500 in April of that same year. And more recently, Barrett-Jackson sold a 1954 Taylor Aerocar for $275,000 at its Scottsdale auction in 2020.
Elvis bought a lot of cars over the years, too, and a number of them have come to auction. The most recent was a 1971 Stutz Blackhawk that brought $297,000 — but a good number of Cadillacs have sold at auction for around double their current market values. Considering that, and the decent values seen at auction for the airplanes that we have seen sell, this is going to be interesting to watch.
Any lot that sits at the intersection of barn find, celebrity ownership and classic aviation should make a few waves, even if only to raise questions that nobody has yet thought to ask. Keep an eye on this one as it crosses the block in Kissimmee in January.