Ringo Starr’s Mini is not a stranger to me as I worked on the car a long time ago when it had some restoration by a previous owner. This time the car made its way to our workshop after it was purchased by former Spice Girl, Geri Horner (Helliwell) who bought the 1966 Mini Cooper S Radford at Bonham’s for £102,000. I have known Christian Horner for a while and shared cars in some races so we were the obvious choice for recommissioning the car.
In 1966 each member of The Beatles was given a Mini by their manager Brian Epstein. Each one was customized by luxury coachbuilder Harold Radford & Co. The Radford Mini was their bespoke version the “Mini de Ville” and they were as popular with rock stars as they were with housewives and plumbers.
Ringo’s Mini boasts a host of desirable extras including; Bonnet vents, extended wheel-arches, Manx alloy wheels, de-seamed body-shell, Waso fuel filler caps, bespoke window frames and quarter lights, Webasto sunroof, Hooper and Radford badges, triple ancillary gauges, tachometer, cigar lighter, MotoLita steering wheel on Mark II column, internal bonnet release, walnut dashboard and door cappings, folding rear seat, electric windows, etched Sundym glass (side windows), Huntmaster reclining seats, driving lamps (individually switchable), Benolite grille, Morris 1100 indicators, door warning lights, VW ‘Beetle’ rear lights, Cibié headlights in Innocenti rims, Walnut dashboard and Smith’s gauges.
However Ringo’s car stands out as he asked that his Mini be able to accommodate a full drum kit in the rear, so Radford incorporated a folding rear seat and a rear hatch that opened upwards to allow for easy loading and unloading. LLO 836D’ was registered in May 1966 and registration passed to Richard Starkey (Ringo’s real name) on 15th June 1967. He kept the car until it was sold in December 1968.
When the car came to us it still boasted two-tone paintwork in maroon and silver but this was a later modification and we restored the paintwork to its original all over Maroon. Other than that, the car was in remarkably original condition with all the extras present. No doubt the fact this was a well-known car with a famous owner discouraged subsequent owners to make too many changes.
It’s always a pleasure to work on unusual and customised Mini’s. The bodywork needed more work than anticipated and the electric windows were a challenge to get working. We believe the motors may have been from a Rolls, Royce, but after a good clean they started to work again. Then it was just a case of working through the various elements of the car, engine, brakes and electrics to make sure everything was fully operational. It will be good to see the Ringo Star Mini appearing at some of the more discerning car shows in the next few years accompanied by its famous owner.