This story was first published on September 18, 2007
Message with attached photographs of an extensive collection of valuable old cars claims that a New York man discovered the vehicles locked in a barn on a property he bought in Portugal.
The photographs are genuine but the text in the message explaining their origin is untrue. The cars were not an unexpected windfall discovered in a locked barn by a retired New Yorker who bought a property in Portugal. The owner of the cars was a car dealer who kept the more interesting vehicles he acquired and stored them in a barn. He later hired a photographer to take pictures of the cars. Some of these images, along with a somewhat fanciful cover story, began circulating via email and, later, social media.
Subject: Real estate deal
YOU MUST check this out . . . Trust me
A New York man retired. He wanted to use his retirement money wisely, so it would last, and decided to buy a home and a few acres in Portugal. The modest farmhouse had been vacant for 15 years; the owner and wife both had died, and there were no heirs.
The house was sold to pay taxes.
There had been several lookers, but the large barn had steel doors, and they had been welded shut. Nobody wanted to go to the extra expense to see what was in the barn, and it wasn’t complimentary to the property anyway… so, nobody made an offer on the place.
The NY guy bought it at just over half of the property’s worth; moved in, and set about to tear in to the barn – curiosity was killing him. So, he and his wife bought a generator and a couple of grinders… and cut thru the welds.
What was in the barn? Don’t miss it!
There are many more pictures…..
Go to www.intuh.net/barnfinds/afa70.htm and start wishing you had bought the place. Click on the index for a faster download.
The photographs that travel with this message show an extensive collection of beautiful but dusty and neglected old vehicles parked almost bumper to bumper in a large building. Some versions of the message include a dozen or more photographs. Others, such as the one included above, show only one or two photographs but include a link to a website that displays the entire photo series.
While the photographs are genuine, the text in the message explaining their origin is untrue. There was no retired New Yorker who came across an incredible, and totally unexpected, windfall when he broke open the welded doors of an old barn on his newly acquired Portuguese property. Instead, there is a more mundane, but much more believable explanation.
Journalist Tom Cotter researched the story and finally identified the photographer as Manuel Menezes Morais. Morais was contracted to take photographs of the cars by their owner. Due to the wishes of the owner, Morais was unable to reveal exact details of the barn’s location or the owner’s name, but he did give Tom Cotter some general information about the origin of the vehicle collection.
In an article about the cars for Sports Car Market Magazine, Tom Cotter notes:
The owner of the cars was a car dealer in the 1970s and 1980s, and decided to save the more interesting cars that came through his doors. When the barn was full, he padlocked and “soldered” the doors shut. (Perhaps welding was too permanent.)
Web sites varied on the number of cars: 58, 100, and 180 were speculated. According to Morais, there are 180 cars in the barn.
Cotter’s research indicates that the cars are probably located in an area near Lisbon, in Portugal.
Thus, it seems that the “retired New Yorker” cover story is no more than a fictional embellishment. The story may have evolved out of an earlier description of the photographs that simply asked recipients to imagine what it would be like to acquire a piece of land and then subsequently discover a treasure trove of old cars hidden in a barn on the property:
ok, so imagine you live in portugal and your moving house. you find a lovely farm house set in a decent plot of land. the place has been empty for 15 years!
whilst exploring your new property you find a large barn in the trees. the door is padlocked shut and its all rusted solid. so you grind the padlock open………
It is quite common for pranksters to invent a fanciful tale to go with a particularly compelling set of photographs. In many cases, including this one, such foolish and fictional embellishments seem redundant. Photographs like these speak for themselves and need no tall stories to enhance their impact.