The Classic Mini at 60: The Celebrity Mini Specialists
There arguably hasn’t been a car that has defined an era as much as the Mini did to the 1960s. Anyone who was anyone drove a Mini during ‘the swinging sixties’ – and aside from its great driving experience, the deceptively-large interior and the ability to get the most from a fuel tank, a Mini was affordable for most people too. As a result, a whole generation of Mini specialists was created – we here at Mini Sport are a testament to that!
It was during this era that celebrity endorsements were first seen as the key to unlocking the buyer’s market – once your products were promoted by somebody famous, you were likely to be quids in. Whilst some products would take much persuasion to promote, the Mini had no such problems – it was the cool car that everyone wanted, after all. So rather than ‘promote’ the Mini, celebrity endorsements merely sealed its reputation.
So to continue our series on the 60th anniversary of the Mini, we’re going to take a look at some of the famous people whose ownership sealed its ‘cool and hip’ reputation during the period.
The Celebrity Mini Specialists of the 1960s
- The Beatles. “Baby you can drive my car” sang The Beatles on 1965’s Rubber Soul – for the band, that car was a Mini. If The Beatles summed up the effect that British music had on the world in the 1960s, then the Mini is The Beatles of the automotive world – it quickly dominated popular culture, just like the band. In 1965, The Beatles’ manager, George Epstein, purchased a Mini Cooper S for each member, as well as for himself (clearly, their image needed fashioning up a bit).
Paul McCartney’s Cooper S was customised by Mini specialists in the famous ‘sage green’ colour of another popular British automotive brand. In 2018, the same car was sold at auction for £182,000. George Harrison took Mini customisation to a completely new level; his Cooper was decorated in ‘psychedelic images’ and would feature in the Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour, released in 1967.
Speaking of auctions, Ringo Starr’s Cooper was sold for around £100,000 to Spice Girl Geri Halliwell in 2017. Famous for her patriotic imagery (that dress!), it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Geri wanted to keep a bit of British automotive and musical history in the country. When you consider that she’s also married to the current Team Principal of Red Bull F1, Chris Horner, too, her love for classic automobiles makes sense!
As for John Lennon’s Mini, nobody knows what happened to it for certain – some people believe he had it shipped over to the United States and gave it to his butler as a gift before it was later scrapped. That’s the popular story of what happened to it, anyway – imagine if it wasn’t though, and is still out there, traversing the long and winding roads…
- Steve McQueen. Say the words ‘1960s’, ‘cool’ and ‘car’ (or ‘motorcycle’, or ‘attempting to jump over the barbed wire fence of a Nazi prison camp on a motorcycle’), and for many aficionados of the era, the name ‘Steve McQueen’ won’t be too far away from their minds. Nicknamed ‘the King of Cool, the legendary American actor actually bought his Cooper MKII from John Cooper the creator of the car, himself!
King Steve was an avid car enthusiast and in 1961, had even driven a BMC Mini in the British Touring Car Championships at Brands Hatch, finishing in third. His purchase of the MKII in ’67 was originally green with a white top, which he had repainted metallic brown with a beige top. Mini specialists it also installed a wooden dashboard, a single fog light and a retraced aerial. It must have been cool!
- Enzo Ferrari. For the best part of seventy years, Ferrari has been the overall dominant force in Formula One racing – the famous red cars of the Italian brand has delivered over 235 wins, 795 podium finishes and 16 constructors championships to date. But who drives these innovators to work?
Ferrari’s founder, Enzo, was an admirer of the Mini and Alec Issigonis, the designer of the original, apparently gave him one as a gift. With customised lights, Enzo apparently liked to drive his Mini to work in the winter thanks to its ‘superior front-drive traction’. Naturally, it was painted red. As he lived and worked in Modena, not far from Turin, Enzo would have been well aware of the Mini’s ability to negotiate traffic. Now, you can’t do THAT in a Ferrari!
- Clint Eastwood. If you needed any further convincing that the Mini is indeed a car for the cool cats – look further than Clint Eastwood. A movie icon of the 1960s to the present day, Clint has been a huge collector of cars ever since he was old enough to see over a steering wheel. His collection, at least at one point, included a Morris Mini Countryman.
In the man’s own words: “I’ve got a Morris Mini Countryman. That’s kind of an interesting little car. It came from England and has all the Mini Cooper S racing gear but in a mini station wagon. It’s a cool car because there aren’t many like it.”
Too right, Clint, you’ve just made our day with that quote – there aren’t many cars like the Mini, which is why it continues to be a popular brand for drivers young and old even 60 years later.
So that was just a selection of the celebrities that have been proud owners of the classic Mini – if you have your own that you’re looking to customise, repair or reimagine all together, why not browse through our range here at Mini Sport?
Restore, Repair or Customise Your Mini With Us
As Mini specialists, we can help you to get your classic car running as you would like it to – regardless if you want to restore its original look and feel, improve upon it or create something new entirely.
Amongst our different departments, you will find a vast selection of everything you could need – if you so wanted, you could even build your own Mini with us from scratch!
Please feel free to take a look around our extensive product ranges – and do also grab a copy of our latest catalogue that details further information about us, as well as all of the parts that we have on sale.
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