‘The feeling is like the guy who found Tutankhamun’s treasure’ - Man finds early Mini Cooper in barn
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
A classic car collector stumbled across one of his most valuable finds after discovering the earliest Mini Cooper S Mark I in a Suffolk barn.
Bob Long, 65, who has been collecting cars as a hobby for years, bought the car from a man who had been keeping it in a barn in a secret location near the Suffolk/Essex border since 1983.
The car is the earliest known example of its type in the world, the sixth of the 4,000 made, and came with a certificate of authenticity and its original number still intact.
Mr Long, who lives in Kirby Cane, near Bungay, said the car was worth around £50,000 and would have been available to buy for around £600 when it was new in 1963.
He said: 'I'd put an advert in the paper and a man rang me up and said it had been locked up in his barn for years and it still has its old road tax disc in the window and it still has its original engine and its original body.
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'I've always had a passion for Minis, my first car was a Mini, and the passion has never died.'
The car is historically linked to the famous Monte Carlo rally, with the model an icon of the sport. Mr Long's car has remnants of what he believes to be a racing history, with Restall seats and Mini Light wheels and a sticker on the back linked to a company which used convert cars into racers.
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He added: 'I think the Mini has done a bit of racing in its time as well. They were made mainly for the Monte Carlo rally and it won the rally three times between 1964-67.
'The feeling is like the guy who found Tutankhamun's treasure, I've got a mini version of that. Someone unlocks a barn or a garage and it is there in your grasp and you are hopefully going to be mine!'
The car will now go to Smiths garage in Bungay to be restored to full working condition.
He said: 'It is very original and very rot free. I have located a garage in Bungay and they have been really kind and I think they will put a sympathetic hand to it.'
Mr Long says he also owns what he believes is also the earliest Mark II Mini Cooper S which was discovered in Florida, and also a rare Riley Alf which he described as similar to a 'luxury Mini'.