In 1967 each member of The Beatles was gifted a Mini wby their manager Brian Epstein, a larger than life character who had seen the band performing a lunchtime gig at The Cavern Club and decided on the spot to become their manager. He became an integral part of The Beatles, and many years later Paul McCartney would say “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.”
Harold Radford & Co.
Each of the four Beatle Minis was customized by luxury coachbuilder Harold Radford & Co. of London. Before the arrival of the Mini, Harold Radford had been known for their high-end work on Bentleys – particularly the Bentley Countryman. This was a comprehensively rebuilt Bentley designed for the sporting gentleman. The front and rear seats could be folded down to form a fully sprung double bed, the rear hatch opened to form a table, and there was a sink with hot and cold running water, an electric kettle for making tea, an electric razor, and a full cocktail bar in the back.
When Harold Radford & Co. turned their attention to the Mini – they dubbed their bespoke version the “Mini de Ville” and they sold like hotcakes. If there was ever a car that transcended all class barriers it was the Mini, they were owned by rock stars, A-list actors, housewives, plumbers, and everyone in between.
The Radford Minis
The Radford Minis featured bespoke leather seats, a sliding sun roof, a new radiator grille (with two additional recessed lights), lambswool carpets, additional sound insulation, electric windows, walnut dashboards with all manner of additional instrumentation, and last but not least – a cigar lighter.
Ringo Starr requested that his Mini be able to accommodate a full drum kit in the rear, so Harold Radford incorporated a folding rear seat and a rear hatch that opened upwards to allow easy loading and unloading.
The interior was beautifully appointed with sports bucket seats in the front, a thick leather rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel, electric windows, a wooden dash and door tops, twin petrol tanks, a sunroof, a high-performance Cooper S engine, and significantly upgraded instrumentation over the typically minimalist Mini offerings.
Externally, there’s two-tone paintwork in maroon and silver, with alloy wheels, louvered vents on the bonnet, and Harold Radford & Co. badging.
Original Harold Radford & Co. converted Minis are considered hugely collectible, and this one has the obvious significance of being one of the original Beatles Minis ordered by Epstein. It’s in remarkably original condition throughout, and it’s been in single family (post-Ringo) ownership for over 40 years.
We don’t see many Radford Minis come up for sale, so this one is likely to attract a significant amount of attention when it rolls up onto the block at The Bond Street Sale in London on the 2nd of December. The estimated value is £90,000 to £120,000 but it could creep higher if the right bidders are in the room – Beatles memorabilia has a way of surpassing estimates.
If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid, you can click here to visit the listing on Bonhams.
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.