August 28, 2018

‘In my ears and in my eyes’: The Beatles’ Penny Lane Mini

The Penny Lane Mini is one of those timeless icons of the Swinging Sixties – the perfect blend of British motor engineering, one of the greatest bands of all time, and a few thousand pennies!

The so-called ‘Penny Lane’ Mini is one of the British music industry’s most iconic cars. The ultra-rare models were commissioned back in 1968 to promote the release of The Beatles’ smash hit ‘Penny Lane’. Covered from bumper to bumper with thousands of pennies, the Morris Mini-Minors were the brainchild of Mini-enthusiast and Beatles member Paul McCartney. McCartney penned the lyrics to the song, inspired by the real Penny Lane in Liverpool and memories from his childhood, and saw the Minis as a great way to add a new dimension to the song.

Each of the 1968 Morris Mini-Minors are covered with around 4,000 pennies in total. The pennies have been epoxied to the bodywork of the classic Minis and then covered in lacquer to prevent oxidisation, which would have seen the cars turn completely green.

The pennies themselves are not actually legal tender anymore. They are all pre-1968 pennies and are now all out of circulation. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth something on their own. Some of the coins lacquered onto the Minis date from the late 1800s, meaning that there are more than a couple valuable Victorian-era pennies on the famous Beatles motor.

Where can I see the Penny Lane Mini?

Back in the Sixties, Paul McCartney had two of the Penny Lane Minis commissioned to help promote the single. However, although we only know of these original two there have been numerous rumours swirling over the years that there is at least another Penny Lane Mini somewhere in North America. And there could even be more.

As for the two that we know about, one is on permanent display at the excellent Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant, near Cardiff, while the second has recently resurfaced in North America, where it has been put up for sale.

Can you drive the Penny Lane Mini?

Despite the penny-based makeover, the Penny Lane Mini is perfectly roadworthy. The additional 4,000 pennies that have been lacquered to the bodywork means the Beatles car weighs in around 90kg heavier than a regular Mini – not far off the average weight of an adult man!

Although you can visit the Royal Mint Experience as often as you want, you won’t be able to drive the famous Penny Lane Mini home with you. Until now. While this one is staying at the Mint, the second known Penny Lane Mini has recently been put up for sale for $25,000 (£19,350) on AutoClassics, meaning you could be driving home in your very own slice of the Swinging Sixties before you know it!