A classic car collector has stumbled across the earliest known Mini Cooper still in existence – buried in a Suffolk barn.
Bob Long, 65, put an ad out to try and find the Mini Cooper S Mark I, only to be told of one which had been locked away since 1983.
He is now the proud owner of the 1963 car – the sixth of only 4,000 ever made – which is complete with its original engine and last tax disc and believed to be the earliest model still around.
The cream-coloured Mini is now worth around Â£50,000 and would have cost around Â£600 when it first came on the market.
Bob said: “I collect rare cars and it has taken me four year to collect something like this.
“I was purposely looking for this car, I wanted it as it is so rare – I only collect rare cars.
“And I have specifically taken a liking towards the Mini Cooper because it was my first car I ever bought.
“I would imagine that car has done very few miles.”
Bob, who lives near Bungay, Suffolk, has been collecting cars as a hobby since retiring from his job as a pawn broker five years ago.
He turned his attention to the Mini Cooper S Mark I earlier this year, hoping to track down an early model.
But Bob was stunned to get a response to his ad from the owner of the car, which is famously linked to the Monte Carlo rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
The vehicle has remnants of what he believes to be a racing history, with Restall seats and Minilite wheels and a sticker on the back linked to a company which used to convert cars into racers.
Bob said: “This car is what made the Cooper famous when it won the rally race in Monte Carlo.
“The first one made of this car would have been used to test in production and I have the sixth one which means it is really rare and definitely one of the first that would still be around.
“It’s 100 per cent authentic.
“It still has its old road tax disc in the window, its original engine, and its original body.”
Bob added: “The feeling is like the guy who found Tutankhamunâ€™s treasure, Iâ€™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!”
Bob says he also owns what he believes is 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 â€œluxury Miniâ€.
He previously bought John Lennon’s Mini for Â£150 from the musician’s cleaner.