Lost ex-Roy James Brabham racer recovered by New Zealand police

A rare 1962 Brabham VT2 racing car with connections to the Great Train Robbery was thought lost after it was stolen last year. However, it’s been rescued by police in New Zealand!

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Back in July 2017, one of only 11 1962 Brabham VT2s thought to exist was stolen from a property in Paraparumu Beach, New Zealand. After more than a year lost to the ether, the historic racing car has been discovered during a police raid in Lower Hutt, Wellington.

The owner of the Brabham, John Rapley, told police that he thought the car would be lost for good.

"Everyone told me it wouldn’t be seen again," John explained. "I never believed I would get a racing car like this - the car is very special to me. I built it up from a bit of wreckage - and the car has a big history. Everyone remembers it from the 60s."

More racing greats!

Speculation dictates that Kiwi Formula One driver Denny Hulme raced the Brabham before it was passed on to a fellow racing legend – Graham McRae. Rapley bought the car in 1987 and spent hundreds of man hours restoring the historic vehicle.

Although the car has been damaged and is no longer drivable, Rapley is delighted to have the Brabham back. Grinning from ear to ear, he exclaimed, "She’s certainly one hell of a ride."

So, what’s the connection with the Great Train Robbery? For those not familiar with British criminal history, the robbery saw £2.6 million thieved from a Royal Mail train bound for London from Glasgow in the early hours of August 1963. That’s roughly £51 million ($67 million) with contemporary inflation.

Roy James was one of the getaway drivers during the attack, a well-heeled racing driver who turned to a life of crime after failing to gain sponsorship for entry to Formula One.

The connection? Roy James drove this very Brabham during his Forumula Two career. It smacks of irony that such a vehicle should suffer theft in the first place.

Roy died, aged 61, in 1997. However, now that the racing car has been recovered, at least his infamous legacy can live on.

Pictures first seen on Driven.co.nz and Instagram

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