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By Citizen Reporter


The lost barn find collection

Auction features 200 cars that include Mercs, Chevrolets, Holdens, Fords, Cadillacs, Alfas, De Sotos, Porsches and BMWs.

The sale of a nondescript tract of land near a settlement between nothing and nowhere was the unlikely catalyst for a series of events that led to the chance discovery of South Africa’s largest ever automotive “barn find” treasure trove going under the hammer in a 10-day long online-only Creative Rides auction starting at 8am on 25 March.

And with this discovery, bringing the total to more than 600 vehicles, it also cements the late Oom Louis Coetzer’s place in history as amassing the biggest individual car collection ever chronicled in South Africa.

Creative Rides Classic & Collectibles Auctions CEO Kevin Derrick says the astonishing 334-lot Lost Barn Find Collection auction features about 200 cars that include never-before-seen Mercedes Benz cars, Chevrolets, Holdens, Fords, Cadillacs, Alfas, De Sotos, Porsches and BMWs.

“The remaining lots comprise hundreds of items of automobilia, scores of engines across makes and models from 4 and 6 cylinders to monster V8s, enough classic car spares, car books and original manuals to stock a retail store, and original body parts from bumpers to tail lights,” says Derrick.

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He says in December 2020, international collectors were introduced to the unassuming Oom Louis’ 50-year automotive affair when Creative Rides held the first of two Coetzer estate sales that together saw 286 remarkable vehicles pass into the hands of a new generation of classic car lovers.

At the time, the Coetzer estate was known to comprise more than 450 vehicles and among the auctioned classics were numerous rare models from one of the world’s largest private collections of Mercs. But that was before the find last year.

Joff van Reenen, lead auctioneer of Creative Rides Classic & Collectibles Auctions, says it’s been an eight-month labour of wonder and love to document and catalogue into 334 lots, the immense automotive cache that lay undisturbed for decades.

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Van Reenen says like all the best books, this final chapter in the story of Oom Louis’ five decades of quiet but consistent classic car collecting, delivers an astonishing twist.

“The opening lines of the chapter were written in May last year with a call from one of Oom Louis’ three children, Lida van der Merwe, who explained that a routine estate disposal of a remote parcel of Eastern Cape land had suddenly become a lot more complicated,” he says.

“Lida said when the decision was made to sell the property, the Coetzer siblings knew an inspection of its rambling barn was warranted.

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“To the Coetzer children raised by a passionate collector who was renowned for turning even mundane routines like afternoon school runs into surprises with a constant parade of exciting and different vehicles parked at the pick-up point, the word “barn” raised suspicions of another cache of cars.”

Van Reenen describes the moment he first stepped into the barn as “both surreal and staggering”.

Derrick says the true scale and global significance of Oom Louis’ Lost Barn Collection became evident soon after the mammoth cataloguing process began.

“I’d struggle to name a single undiscovered, completely unknown barn collection of this size ever found outside of the United States. It’s crazy; more than 200 cars,” he says. “Collectors don’t know about any of them; they’ve never been on public display.”

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“And in the auction preparations, we have intentionally left the vehicles in as close to discovery condition as possible so that collectors across the country and the world can appreciate for themselves the historic magnitude of this incredible find.”

Van Reenen says the Lost Barn Find Collection auction will close at 8pm on 3 April, and successful buyers – those with the highest bids – will be notified the following day.

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