George Harrison and the Austin Mini
The psychedelic 60’s were defined by the Beatles and the Magical Mystery Tour. This album and its pop art cover inspired the design of George Harrison’s 1965 Austin Mini ‘S’. This iconic car was custom built for Harrison by Harold Radford LTD and was originally Metallic Black.
Two years after the car was given to Harrison, the Magical Mystery Tour Mini was repainted a tomato red color and covered with tantric symbols like the yantras and mantras. There were also several psychedelic images that added to the unique appearance of the car. The Beatles loved the look of the car so much that they used it in their Magical Mystery Tour film. Even though his neighbors did not appreciate it, Harrison also had his house painted in the same style as the red Austin Mini.
While most people remember George Harrison as the man who was most influenced by Indian culture, especially Hinduism, many do not know that Harrison loved automobiles. He had several different Austin Mini cars, including several 850 Minis can an Aston Martin. At one point, all of the Beatles were given a personalized Mini with their names painted on them in Dayglo paint so they could advertise for the British Motor Company.
After the the Magical Mystery Tour was filmed, Harrison decided to give the Austin Mini to his dear friend Eric Clapton. In the 1970’s, Clapton gave the car back to Harrison. Before it was returned to Harrison, the car was repainted and unfortunately, no one took any photos of the entire car with its tantric symbols. Fortunately, the images from the film gave painters an idea of how to redo the tantric symbols, but the painters were unable to get it back to the original look. The car, still owned by Harrison, reappeared as the Magical Mystery Tour Mini in 1998 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
In 2009, Mini Cooper created a 50th Anniversary Edition red Mini covered in similar tantric symbols. They gave one to Olivia Harrison, George’s widow, as a show of respect for the man who helped make the car an icon of automotive history.