Remarkable “barn finds” seem to have become a regular occurrence lately, but here’s one that crosses over into the truly amazing: the rediscovery of a 1963 Mini Cooper S Mark I stored in a barn in Suffolk, England, that very well could be the oldest example of the iconic car that still exists.
The car’s new owner, 65-year-old collector Bob Long, told the U.K. publication Express that the car was the sixth Mini Cooper produced.
“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,” Long told the Express.
The car is thought to be all-original and even retains its road tax disc, which shows the owner had paid the necessary fees for the vehicle. The car had been locked away since 1983.
“I collect rare cars and it has taken me four years to collect something like this,” Long said. “I was purposely looking for this car, I wanted it as it is so rare — I only collect rare cars.”
Long likened his find to that of an archaeological discovery.
“The feeling is like the guy who found Tutankhamen’s treasure, I’ve got a Mini version of that,” he said. “Someone unlocks a barn or a garage and it is there in your grasp, and you are hopefully going to be mine!”
According to Long, the car came with a heritage certificate that lists the car’s unique body number, proving his claim that it could be the oldest example in existence.
The Cooper S was a special performance version of the tiny economy car, one that has earned respect and recognition for its motorsports victories, most notably in the famed Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
Long also owns what may be the earliest Mark II Mini Cooper S, which he tracked down and acquired from its former owner in Florida, and he once had the keys to another Mini that once was the former property of John Lennon.
“I bought the car off his cleaner,” Long said. “It was a Rodfords – Aston Martin interior…. it was a special car. It was mine for £150.”
Long added that he sold the Lennon Mini for £500 just weeks before the Beatles legend was shot and killed outside his New York City apartment.