The Lee Hartung Collection, America’s Ultimate Barn Find

ultimate barn find
Lee Hartung's Ultimate Barn Find

If you are a gearhead you have probably dreamed about stumbling upon an Ultimate Barn Find.  You know a barn where an old guy collected a few rare and beautiful old cars that are just waiting to be restored to their former glory.  Well I ran across this post by Wheel Through Time a motorcycle musuem in North Carolina which I would definitely say is America's Ultimate Barn Find.

Lee Hartung was a collector's collector.  Based in Glenview, IL, Hartungs collection rested on 4 acres in the middle of the North Chicago suburb, and was amassed over the 60 years since he purchased the property in the 1940s.  For those fortunate enough to get a glimpse of Lee's collection over the past decades — they were among a select few to step into a time-warp that told a unique story of 20th century Chicago —- from Lee's point of view.

Lee passed away in May, 2011 leaving this amazing collection of police badges, license plates, collector automobiles and motorcycles all in the same barn.  It's amazing everything he collected over the years and how much America memorabilia he crammed into his barn.

Lee had an eye for both rarity and originality.  Many of the machines in the collection had never been restored or modified, including the very rare 1948 One-of-a-kind Veritas and the 1951 Sterling Edwards Roadster, as well as a host of motorcycles including original, unrestored examples of a 1912 Harley, 1910 Pope, numerous four-cylinder Hendersons and Indians, a 1910 Excelsior, 1902 Wagner, and even a 1913 Flying Merkel.

RM Auctions held an auction for the entire collection on November 3-5th, 201l.  Lee Hartung's collection brought in just under $4 million which is quite impressive.  Sports Car Digest listed these as the top sales.  (Click here to see the entire auction list.)

Lee Hartung Collection Auctions America by RM – Top 10 Auction Results

1. 1911 Flying Merkel Twin Belt Drive – $201,250
2. 1950 Veritas BMW – $195,500
3. 1950 Edwards R-26 Roadster – $143,750
4. 1912 Harley-Davidson Single-Cylinder Belt Drive – $115,000
5. 1911 Pope Model H – $83,375
6. 1909 Sears – $66,125
7. 1938 Indian Four-Cylinder Rigid Frame – $64,400
8. 1926 Henderson Deluxe Fire Department Motorcycle – $63,250
9. 1915 Harley-Davidson Single-Cylinder Two-Speed – $57,500
10. 1904 Fabrique-Nationale Four-Cylinder Shaft Drive – $55,200

Here are some videos that Wheel Through Time shot of uncovering the entire collection.  It's quite fascinsiating to see all the motorcycle and cars he had.


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Adam loves cars and anything with wheels. He has many interests and passions but he especially loves writing and blogging. Hence starting this auto blog.

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Adam loves cars and anything with wheels. He has many interests and passions but he especially loves writing and blogging. Hence starting this auto blog.

4 thoughts on “The Lee Hartung Collection, America’s Ultimate Barn Find”

  1. Wheels Through Time is a pretty neat place itself. My Dad made the pilgrimage to Maggie Valley a couple of years ago to see it firsthand. But I had somehow missed hearing about The Lee Hartung Collection. Four million dollars at auction? Wow!

    1. Wish my garage looked like that, except all the motorcycle and cars ran and were in good shape. 🙂

      1. I know, right? I love the old-timey license plates and bikes hung up on the walls!

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