This Car Was Hidden Away For 30 Years

hidden treasure in storage unit

The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe prototype sits in its rightful place, a museum founded by its current owner. The first of only six ever built, it was the first American manufactured car to defeat the Ferrari on its own turf, was engulfed by flames in Daytona, was driven through Los Angeles by a popular musician and then restricted to a storage unit for over 30 years. Many had believed the vehicle had been lost. Today though, over 50 years after being built it was found.

 

Created by American automotive entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby, who wanted to beat Italian designer Enzo Ferrari. He had previously done so as a driver with the Aston Martin, winning the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1959. By 1963 Shelby had hung up his racing gear but wished to win as a constructor, and with an American Car that he created. With designer Pete Brock, hired to shape the car for maximum speed the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe was born. Two years later in 1965 Shelby took first place at the FIA – the first American to do so.

 

After years of events surrounding the car such as surviving a fire while refueling in Daytona 1964 and setting 23 national and international speed records it ended up in the hands of music producer Phil Spector. Spector chose to use the vehicle as a cruiser but wound up getting an extraordinary amount of speeding tickets, eventually being suggested by his lawyer to get rid of it. In light of this Spector decided to sell the prototype to his bodyguard, George Band, for $1000. Brand then gave the car to his daughter, Donna O’Hara, who then decided to hide it away in a California storage unit, where it remained for over 30 years.

 

Interest over time mounted around the car and O’Hara received multiple offers for it, but she always refused. With the help of a lawyer, Martin Eyears, car collector and retired neurosurgeon Frederick Simeone managed to convince O’Hara to sell him the car, for an unknown amount, but believed to be up around $4 million. In 2008, he founded the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, where the car now sits amount 65 other classic racers. It is unfortunate that a happy story also included a strong downer. After the sale of the car O’Hara willed the proceeds of the sale to her mother and then set herself on fire. This was after the deal had been done.

 

After the owner’s surprising demise a legal battle ensued around the car that lasted for months. When information that the car was discovered and was being sold to a private party, many buyers desperately pleaded to the judge to put it up for public sale. Even Phil Spector tried to reclaim ownership over the car stating he never truly sold the car to his bodyguard but simply loaned it to him for safekeeping. In the end the judge concluded that the Daytona Coupe prototype had already been sold legitimately to Simeone.

 

It’s hard to put a price on the car today, almost 15 years after the sale. The other five Daytonas – produced in Italy – are already in the hands of private collectors with one sold in 2009 for $7.5 million. It is safe to assume that Shelby’s first prototype would get significantly more due to it being the originator, the last to be in competition, and still in its original state with no replaced parts or repainting. Not too bad for a car sitting inside a storage unit for over 30 years.

Ranking The Top 25 Crazy Finds In Storage Lockers On Storage Wars

storage facility

Storage Wars the hit A&E Network reality show about a group of professional buyers and bidders going to storage facilities to buy units that have been left by their owners. The laws differ from state to state, in California the filming location for the TV series, the law states that storage units can be auctioned off for bidders if the owner has not paid after three months.

There have been times over the years where the legitimacy of Storage Wars finds have been called into question such as when one of the main bidders, Dave Hester, was caught in a lawsuit claiming he had planted items within the lockers to increase the excitement of the show.

Regardless of the validity of the finds, they do make for great television, certainly with the assortment of crazy things they have come across over 12 seasons. Ranging from the bizarre and fantastic to the outlandish and peculiar, screenrant ranks their top 25 items found on Storage Wars. Below we pick out a few of our favorites.

 

  1. The Elvis Collection
    Newspaper clippings long ago had a lot of value, but today most get their news and information online the value of these clippings have fallen greatly. However, specific newspapers that cover various moments in history can still be quite valuable. Dave Hester wound up bidding on a unit that unknowing to him, included tons of newspaper clippings from the day Elvis Presley died. With the clippings and assortment of Elvis memorabilia and collectibles, the unit was valued to be worth around $90,000. One of the largest finds on the show to date.
  2. World War II Minesweeper
    After a long bidding war between Dave and Ivy in the boiling heat of Southern California, Dave walked away with a fully packed unit using a high bid of $1500. What at first, felt like a bit of a loss bidding so much for a unit ended up being a huge victory when an old army container and the helmet was found in the unit. Upon further inspection of the items, it was determined they had uncovered an old World War II Minesweeper valued at almost $4,400.
  3. Human Skeleton
    On the spookier side of things, Dave Hester as going through a locker uncovered a collection of human bones, skull included. Given the circumstances and for his sake, he brought in an expert to determine whether or not the skeleton was real or not. They were determined to be real but not in a malicious way. The human skeleton was used for medical schools for students to study. The expert was able to determine this by the professional cleaning and nylon strings used to hold the bones together. All in all the skeleton was found to be worth over $1500.
  4. Whale In A Jar
    For a time on the show, Darrell decided with his son Brandon to go off on their own so he could teach his son the ropes of playing the storage hunting game. Unfortunately, Brandon still walked away with many dud units. One find though was quite significant and oddly strange. When picking through a unit he came upon a jar that he could only claim as “whale stuff”. Even experts after the find became baffled by how such an item would end up in a storage unit.
  5. Frank Gutierrez Artwork Collection
    Artwork is not a surprise to find when it comes to storage units. In fact, it is one of the most common items found in abandoned units, but one unit full of it ended up being one of the greatest finds in the show. Valued at over $300,000, it was as if the unit itself had been abandoned by Frank Gutierrez. Containing several pieces from the artist, we are left with many questions. How did the owner attain this artwork and why would they let it go?

Terrible is the New Valuable: VHS Edition

vhs

Let’s take a walk down memory lane to the time of brick-and-mortar video rental stores. There were two kinds of stores back in the day: the big chains and the local curiosities. The chains would fill most of their shelves with revenue-generating titles, which meant mostly new releases and popular films. As the industry digitized and brick and mortar stores tried to maximize profits before closing, fewer kitschy titles were stocked on the shelves.

Read More: How to Tell if Autographs are Authentic

VHS Tapes Value with Collectors

This is too bad because half the fun of browsing a local video store was stumbling across bizarre, questionable, and/or truly ridiculous titles. In fact, the video store has not gone extinct even in 2017, and those still in business capitalize on having a diverse range of titles — many of which aren’t available for streaming.

Okay, sure, they might not be available for streaming in part because they’re terrible flops. But Mystery Science Theater 3000 remains popular because it features films that weren’t exactly blockbusters. The Rocky Horror Picture Show and other cult classics are beloved for being more than a little off (off the mark, off-color, off in left field – you know, just off). And we all have that friend who cajoles us into watching a movie because “it’s terrible, but it’s AWESOME!”

Point being? If you find some truly weird video or even DVD titles in a storage unit, don’t assume nobody will buy them. Films that never made it to DVD can fetch three figures – yes, without a decimal point! Look for wild cover art, hackneyed genre flicks, exploitation films, foreign films (including anime), banned titles, complete TV series, and wrestling. The black diamond Disney collection claims are false, but you might strike gold with Bash at the Beach 2000.

Those VHS tapes you found in our Movies, Music & Books auctions may actually be worth something.