For “barn find” car collectors, a holy grail discovery goes something like this: You find a classic in a garage somewhere, covered with a tarp, and left alone for a few decades. No water damage, no rust, no exhaustive restoration required. And that’s exactly what Tom Cotter discovered near Dallas, when he unearthed a 1957 Porsche 356 A 1600 Speedster that had been sitting in a dry garage since the mid-seventies.
That car—which went up for auction on Thursday—was expected to fetch as much as $250,000, but ended up fetching $341,000. And it’s a living piece of history, and of the youth, of its former owner. According to Sotheby’s, Sam Fleming bought the car in 1967 (when he was 26), and then traveled to Mexico with his wife, Nely, where he was given an orange ballpoint pen that inspired him to paint the Porsche. Nely—who still has the pen—documented the evolution of the car from white to orange and its acquisition of a fiberglass hardtop.
Cars like this tell a story. Although Fleming stopped driving it in the seventies, it’s easy to recognize the attachment he had to a vehicle he kept parked for four decades, and the details—like the fact that the door-jambs, underside of the hood, and engine escaped the orange paint—are as compelling as the fact that the car exists at all. (Also, the fact that it was kept in Dallas helps explain the lack of rust—if this car’s story had taken it to Minnesota, even parked in a garage, it’d be in different condition.)
The new owner—whoever it may be—will have some options: They can keep it orange, or remove the paint to restore the original finish. They can use the hardtop, or go with the convertible top and assembly. Either way, they’ll have something unique on their hands.