Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ringo's Mini sells to Ginger Spice in auto auction

We reported the other day on the sale of Paul McCartney's 1964 Aston Martin but that's not the only recent Beatle car auction.

Also last week, a 1966 Mini Cooper formerly owned by Ringo Starr sold for £102,300 (US$ 137,241), reportedly to former Spice Girl Geri Horner.

Here are details on the car and pics from Bonhams auction house.

The Mini was the standout motoring icon of the 1960s, so it was only to be expected that that era's defining popular music act – The Beatles – would all own examples of Alec Issigonis' motoring masterpiece. But while it is relatively easy to carry your guitar around in a Mini, a set of drums is another matter entirely, and it is said that Ringo stipulated that his must be able to accommodate a drum kit, making it different from those purchased for the other members of the 'Fab Four'. The solution to the lack-of-space/accessibility problem was a hatchback conversion, which coachbuilder Harold Radford was offering as an option on its up-market Mini de Ville GT, introduced in October 1965. 

Radford was not the only firm offering modified and upgraded Minis at this time. Another was Hooper & Co, widely acknowledged as Britain's finest coachbuilder until parent company BSA ended its body-building activities at the end of 1959 and reconstituted it as Hooper (Motor Services) Ltd, which acted as a sales and service company. Nevertheless, Hooper seems to have 'kept its hand in' by modifying cars for a select band of customers, including actor Peter Sellers who is known to have commissioned a special Mini from them. 'LLO 836D' carries Radford and Hooper badges, suggesting input from both companies. 

Like all of The Beatles' Minis, 'LLO 836D' was purchased new by band manager Brian Epstein's company, to which it was first registered in May 1966. Its registration number is in the same sequence as that of Paul McCartney's Aston Martin DB6 ('LLO 840D'), which presumably was purchased at the same time.
Registration passed to Richard Starkey (Ringo's actual name) on 15th June 1967, and he kept the car until it was sold in December 1968. Nothing is known of its subsequent history until 1977, when the ex-Starr Mini was purchased by the current owner's father. 

While in the latter's ownership, 'LLO 836D' appeared on the BBC Television programme 'Blue Peter' in February 1984, being described as the 'Rolls-Royce of Minis', and in March of that same year went on display at the 'Beatle City' exhibition in Liverpool. In August 1987, the Mini went on display in Dallas, Texas when the 'Beatle City' exhibition transferred to the USA, and following its return home was restored by Naylor Brothers in 1990/1991. In 1998, Ringo's Mini won the coveted Cartier 'Style et Luxe' concours award at the Goodwood 'Festival of Speed', and three years later – in 2001 – was featured in BBC TV's flagship motoring show, 'Top Gear'.

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