An historic racing car believed to have been driven by one of the men involved in the Great Train Robbery in 1963 has itself been stolen from the yard of a Paraparaumu man over the weekend.

John Rapley is feeling "a bit numb" after discovering on Sunday the 1962 Brabham BT2 and its converted pop-top caravan had been swiped from his property.

"It was chained up in our driveway . . . it's a bit sad that somebody cut the chain and took it and we have no idea who, why, or where, of course."

The pop top caravan has been converted to house the racing car. Photo/Facebook
The pop top caravan has been converted to house the racing car. Photo/Facebook

The cream-coloured Formula Junior car, with a registration number of R970S, was first raced in 1962, but Rapley believes it is also the car used by robber Roy James.


James was one of a gang of 15 robbers who stole £2.6 million ($4.5m) from a Royal Mail Train during its run between Glasgow and London in 1963.

Rapley said James used to race in the Brabham BT2 before going to jail for the robbery.

Rapley has owned the car since the 80s and regularly races in it himself.

He said other notable racers who had driven the car included Graham McRae and Denny Hulme.

"It's part of New Zealand history and I'm really only the present caretaker of it," he said.

Whether the thief was trying to steal the car or simply the caravan it was housed in was "the $64,000 question".

"What were they after? They certainly cut the chain and took it away during the night, which wasn't very nice of them.

"I'm quite worried as to what they took and why they took it - are they going to trash the bit they don't want?

"It's really a very puzzling situation."

The car would be impossible to flog on Trade Me, but Rapley held a fear the thieves might try to sneak it out of the country to be sold for parts.

"I've had it for a long time, I look after it myself," he said.

He asked that the thieves leave the car somewhere it could be collected, rather than wreck it.

He said the car could be worth anywhere between $50-100k, and the caravan would be about $12k.

Rapley said he was "really intrigued".

"Please drop it back."