Suffolk Mini owner's £80,000 labour of love to restore 1960s Austin 850 with a Tesla twist

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A man from Suffolk has fulfilled a very expensive ambition by renovating the 1960s Mini he learned to drive in - turning it into a Tesla-powered electric dream.

Simon Benton, from Melton near Woodbridge, grew up driving his mum's classic Austin 850.

But when it failed an MOT in the 1990s, the trusty car was tucked away at the back of the garage, until Mr Benton rediscovered it years later and decided to bring it back to life.

It took three years, tens of thousands of pounds - and one electric 300hp Tesla engine to return the 1967 Mini to pristine condition.

Mr Benton said the car evoked an emotional response when he saw it renovated.

Simon Benton said he was almost moved to tears the first time he saw the newly-renovated car. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I was almost moved to tears when it was revealed to me for the first time," he said.

"It just evokes so many memories. For me, growing up with the car, it's been part of my life - almost like another member of the family really."The car first joined the family on Christmas morning 1977, when Mr Benton was just 11.

It was a present for his mum and it clocked up 93,000 miles before it failed the MOT.

Then, a few years ago, its rusty shell re-emerged. And the experts at Bridge Classic Cars, near Woodbridge in Suffolk, got to work - before it went to Wales for its electric conversion.

The only surviving original features are its roof - and its ashtrays.

The family called the Mini 'Obi': partly for its registration plate, and partly because the Star Wars films came out when Simon's family got it.

The electric conversion has raised the car's top speed from around 70mph to 120mph.

The Mini being painted Credit: Bridge Classic Cars

And Mr Benton plans to pass it on to his daughters - hoping they will get the same enjoyment he did in his teens.

"We had some high-jinx with it. Some of my friends when we were out at the pub picked the car up, lifted it and actually jammed it between cars so I couldn't get out of the parking space! Because they're so light you could do that with them."

The car may be light, but the price tag is far from it. In fact the restoration project has cost somewhere in the region of £80,000.

But the feeling of being back behind the wheel of the car that has meant so much to him - Mr Benton said that was a feeling that was priceless.

The Mini back on the road with its Tesla engine Credit: Simon Benton