Most people find old pictures, broken lawn equipment, and dated magazines in their barns, but some rare barn finds include classic cars, and those are the stories we all live for. Who doesn’t dream of finding a rare car, covered in dust, buried in a barn, and waiting to be restored? Well, for a few lucky Mustang enthusiasts, that’s what happened. There are countless incredible barn finds, but these are ten of the best Mustang barn finds of all time.
1970 Grabber Orange Boss 429
If you can believe it, someone let a Boss 429 go to a junkyard only five years after production. In 1975, Keith Clark went to a junkyard to find a vehicle for his future brother in law, and the orange Boss 429 caught his eye. There was just one problem, it was missing an engine. For two grand, Clark walked away with a Grabber Orange Boss 429 and a Cobra Jet engine, which really isn’t a terrible replacement.
Two years later, when his brother in law decided to sell the Boss 429, now equipped with a restored Boss engine, Clark jumped at the opportunity. The car has a little rust, but Keith Clark likes it that way. If it was mint, he reasons, he might feel bad about driving it. As is, this car went from a junkyard to being lovingly restored, driven, and shown.
1967 Shelby GT500
For twenty-five years, a Shelby GT500 sat in Death Valley. We may never find out why it was there, who left it there, or if they planned to return for it. Over time, it filled with sand, and the hood had been naturally sand-blasted. Otherwise, it was stock and in good condition all things considered.
Thankfully, someone came along to pull it out of the sand and bail it out.
Because of the uniquely dry environment that this Shelby was stranded in, a lot of the parts that other Shelbys lost overtime are still intact, including the wooden steering wheel. The sand and blistering heat have had an interesting effect on the paint that the owner has decided to keep intact, though the mechanics are being fully restored so that this GT500 can finally be driven.
1966 Shelby GT350H
In 1966, Hertz Rental company, suffering from either temporary genius or insanity, decided that a fleet of GT350s was what would really make their car rental company stand out from the crowd (and boy, did it). The GT350Hs are unique finds now. Their black paint with gold stripes helps to distinguish them from their GT350 and GT350R brethren, but otherwise, they’re still performance Mustangs.
In good condition, a GT350H like this can sell for $150,000. But, as is true with so many barn find stories, this one wasn’t in mint condition. In fact, it looked like it had sustained an accident to the side. But a little bodywork is a small price to pay for a piece of Mustang history like this, and the lucky finder was quick to scoop it up.
1967 Lone Star Hardtop
In 1974, Kent Faith and his twin brother were given a ‘67 Mustang to share as a graduation present. It was because of this sentimental value that Kent didn’t sell the car, but instead stored the hardtop. As luck would have it, Kent’s eleven-year-old son developed an interest in cars and started poking around trying to find out more about the classic Mustang in the garage.
It was the paint code that ended up being the key to unlocking the history of this classic Mustang. Kade, Kent’s son, cleverly looked at the car’s original data plate for the paint code, hoping to freshen up the paint. But no matter what he tried, he couldn’t find the exact shade of blue that the Mustang was. Finally, Kade found the answer. The Mustang was a rare Lone Star Special, a Mustang only sold through dealers in Texas. Of the 175 Lone Star Specials that were produced, only five are accounted for, making this a very rare, and very special barn find.
1970 Boss 429
Considering there were only 1,358 Boss 429s made between 1969 and 1970, it’s pretty surprising that so many of them ended up being barn finds. Charlie Lyons was a known car collector (remember, tell everyone you meet that you’re looking for old cars), so when a patient mentioned to his dentist that he had a Mustang that he wanted to find a buyer for, they gave Charlie Lyons a call.
Lyons was surprised to get a call asking if he wanted to buy a Boss 429, but that skepticism didn’t keep him from driving out to check out the vehicle. He was immediately rewarded for his effort. The car had been kept under two car covers for years and was still in possession of many of its original parts though it had some light modification done.
You have to love a story that starts as one kind of barn find and quickly becomes another. When a 1968 Mustang Fastback was found in a Californian junkyard, the lucky finder decided that they wanted to restore the fastback into an Eleanor-styled Mustang. Thankfully, the restoration shop was thorough and ran the vehicle’s VIN before beginning the restoration process. This was when they began to have some questions about the vehicle’s identity.
Kevin Marti, of the famed Marti reports, went down to see the car and verify its identity. Marti combed over the car carefully before coming to the conclusion that this car was the “jumper” car from the movie Bullitt.
For Bullitt, and for most car movies, multiple vehicles are made to perform all of the sequences. There’s typically a “hero” car, which is the one you’d see on posters, and then different vehicles for various stunts. This particular fastback had been equipped to handle the various jumps and stunts that were necessary for the movie.
The ‘68 fastback was evaluated as being worth over a million dollars.
1989 41X Mustang
Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of a “41X” Mustang. Kept secret deliberately, there was a code that could be used to order a stripped-down, drag ready, Fox Body Mustang. Lewis Lukanc had purchased this car and then stored it in a boiler room right beside his ‘69 Super Cobra Jet. While doing a feature on that classic Mustang, YouTuber Jerry Heasley saw the Fox Body and asked about it.
Lukanc had purchased it from a Ford employee who had worked with Ford Performance and Shelby American where he learned of “41x” the “delete everything” code. No options were available on it at all and it came with a high powered 5.0L engine and a heavy-duty battery. There’s no telling how rare these are since most people didn’t even know the code existed. Estimates have the total number of 41x Mustangs as being under 1,500.
1969 Boss 302 Prototype
Unlike in a lot of barn find stories, John Grafelman knew he had a special Mustang. There were just a few quirks about his 1969 fastback that made it slightly different than production. He and his wife jokingly called it their special edition Mustang.
When Grafelman’s son was born, he and his wife realized that the car seat wasn’t easy to squeeze in and out of the Mustang, so they stashed it in the barn (the Mustang, not the son).
Ultimately it was John’s son, Jason, who put the mystery together. While visiting specialty car shops in California trying to figure out more information about his dad’s Mustang, Jason came across a Mustang historian who mentioned a long lost Mustang, and they learned about the Boss prototype. There were a lot of confirming details, but Grafelman wasn’t the type to jump to conclusions. Ultimately, he waited for something conclusive.
The steering wheel was the most unusual part of Grafelman’s Mustang. It had a custom “LB” in the center, and a “1” stamped on a spoke.
These were the details that confirmed it. They’d found Larry Shinoda’s long lost Boss prototype. Though the discovery was made too late to reconnect Shinoda and his car, the Grafelman’s restored it to how it would have been when Shinoda was driving it. They now display the restored Mustang proudly at shows with the intention of getting more young people into cars, a goal Shinoda would have almost certainly shared.
1969 Mach 1
When he got married and had children, the owner of this Mach 1 put it in a climate-controlled garage. Before he knew it, 38 years had gone by. This Mach 1 isn’t mint, it managed to get 79,000 miles on it before it was put away after all, but it’s hard to imagine it being any more perfect. Best of all, it still runs.
We’re still waiting to see where this beauty ends up. The owner, recognizing that he was holding something that would mean a lot more to a Mustang enthusiast than it did to him elected to post it on eBay. The owner is clear about not wanting to talk to or contact anyone about the car, but he’s a stellar guy in our book for making sure that this beautiful vehicle finds a new home where it’s loved.
1968 Shelby GT500 KR
Unfortunately, sometimes barn finds start with a tragedy. In this case, a 1968 Shelby GT500 KR (King of the Road) was purchased by Art Winner. Art wasn’t the Shelby’s first owner, but he certainly had it the longest. The Shelby was used as his daily transportation for a while, and ran from the law from multiple times according to family and friends. Then it was rear-ended.
Art parked the Shelby, but don’t worry. He got around just fine in his ‘68 GT. After he passed, Art’s family sold the GT500, and we hope it’s being enjoyed by its new owner (but maybe isn’t getting involved in police chases anymore).
If you’re looking, it seems that rare barn finds are likely all around you. The key is in being patient, being willing to work on the vehicle that you find in order to turn it into the car that you want, and making sure that the people in your life know that you’re on the hunt to buy a classic Mustang.
Happy hunting, barn find enthusiasts.
Image Credit: Ford | Hot Rod | Mustangs and Fords | Car and Driver