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