Roger Baillon Barn Find | Classic Car Stories

French Classic Collector, Roger Baillon

Heritage take a closer look at the bizarre tale of Roger Baillon, the troubled French classic car collector.

Back in July, we made mention of the 2014 ‘barn find’ where over 60 classic cars were found abandoned at a French farm (you can read it here), promising to revisit the story in more detail. Well the time has come to share more of this rather bizarre tale of the troubled collector, Roger Baillon and his hoard of classics, including a very special £11.8m Ferrari.

A true classic collector

Roger Baillon was an entrepreneur and a transport magnate who collected cars between the 1950s and 1970s, with a view to displaying them in a museum.

The cars were stored on a farm in the French town of Echire and the collection grew over the years.

In the 70s, Roger Baillon’s business began to suffer and he ended up selling some of the cars, leaving the rest at the site in various outbuildings and garages.

He passed away in the early 2000s and his son Jacques inherited the collection, but didn’t do anything with them. When he died in 2014, the cars passed to Baillon’s grandchildren, who didn’t have a clue there were so many gems amongst them.

The discovery

Enter car specialists Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff, who visited the site and discovered one of the most incredible finds – compared by car enthusiasts to Howard Cater finding Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

Around 60 cars in varying states of preservation were discovered under newspapers and corrugated iron, including the 1961 Ferrari California Spyder famously photographed in 1964 with Alain Delon, Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda sitting in it.

The 250GT SWB Spyder with covered headlights was one of only 37 ever made and whilst every other model’s whereabouts was documented, this one had been deemed lost.

That car later sold for nearly £12m.

The wider collection

The astounding discovery ended up selling for a combined £20m, including:

  • A 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sports, one of just three in the world, with coachwork by Frua, sold for £1.4m;
  • A Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport SWB went for over £1.2m, and;
  • A 1987 Lancia Thema, which fetched a relatively measly £5,000.

Other exquisite specimens included:

  • Bugatti;
  • Hispano-Suiza
  • Talbot-Lago
  • Panhard-Levassor
  • Maserati
  • Delahaye
  • Delage

As Mr Lamoure said in an interview about the find:

“Never again, anywhere in the world, will such a treasure be unearthed.”

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