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November 15, 2020

The Beatles and Their Minis

Not only did the Beatles produce excellent music, they also had a great taste for cars; The Mini.

The Beatles had all owned a Radford Mini, i.e. a Mini custom-build by Harold Radford Coachbuilders Ltd. At one point of time during their hey-day, they each owned a Mini as well as a pretty impressive selection of other cars;
John Lennon had a black Mini Cooper, a black Rolls-Royce, and a Ferrari painted matt-black, all with blacked-out windows.
George Harrison had a black Mini Cooper, and a green Ferrari.
Paul McCartney had a green Mini Cooper and a blue Aston-Martin.
Ringo Starr had a maroon Mini Cooper plus a maroon Facel Vega.
Ringo Starr owned a Radford Mini. Reg LLO 836D was registered on May 5, 1966. Brian Epstein bought the Mini originally, and the next owner shown in the log book was Richard Starkey, who took possession of it on June 15, 1967. It is said that this car was made into a hatchback because it had to carry Ringo’s drums. After two years it was sold again and ended up at the Beatle City Museum in Liverpool for a short period.
John Lennon owned a Mini Reg LGF 696D built by Radford, around December 1966. It was black including the wheels, bumpers, and seats. Heritage records say it was an Austin Cooper S, built on February 14, 1965 and despatched to Car Mart Ltd of London on March 3, 1965. The log book shows it was registered in London on February 8, 1966 as LGF 696D, that is almost a year from when it was built, but the Beatles were on tour in the USA for most of 1965. It also seems that along with this Mini, George’s Mini (green at the time before being painted pyschedelic) and the Ringo Mini (LLO) and another Mini which was Paul’s were registered and may have been a gift from the record company.

In December 1964 John bought his wife Cynthia a Mini after passing her driving test.

It is said that before he went to live in the US about 1971 he gave his cleaning lady a white Mini, most likely owned by Yoko Ono.
Paul McCartney had a 1965 Radford Mini Cooper S, Reg GGJ 382C. It was an early Radford modification not a GT version like Harrison’s and Lennon’s. The car was finished in Aston Martin California sage green metallic. It also featured rear lights from the Aston Martin factory, new black leather interior, inside map lighting, a sunroof, rare halogen headlamps and built-in fog lamps recessed into the grille. He was pictured in this Mini on a number of occasions on his own in 1965 and with Linda in 1968. It was sold in the USA in 1996 and now on display at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum in Florida beside John Lennon’s Mercedes.

In a book about Paul, Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, it says that the first night he met Linda, they and Lulu went back to Paul’s house in his Mini.

George Harrison owned the Mini that featured in the film Magical Mystery Tour. The Mini, an Austin Cooper S, Reg LGF 695D, was built for George by Radfords in late 1965 and painted metallic black. In early 1967, the car was repainted and the psychedelic pictures were added using a book, Tantrum Art, for inspiration. At the same time George had a wall of his house painted in the same design. The Mini was used in the film which was screened on BBC on December 26, 1967 in black and white and in color in January 1968. Shortly after the film the Mini was given to Eric Clapton from whom George got it back from in the 1970s.

George, John, Cynthia, and Patti had their first LSD trip while driving LGF 695D (they were leaving the home of a dentist friend that had slipped it into their tea). George recalled driving very slowly because they did not know what was happening to them (quoted from Beatles Anthology series). George also had a number of 850 Minis.



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