Lot 83. Morris Mini Cooper S MKII Wood & Pickett, 1970. Vehicle Registration YYU292H. Chassis Number KA2S6-1321285. Engine Number 9F1SA1Y-54194. Estimate £40000 - 50000©  H&H Auctioneers

LONDON.- This superb Mini Cooper S which was transformed by the coachbuilder Wood & Pickett to Margrave specification when new, was once owned by Leonard Albert Lewis, better known as ‘Leonard of Mayfair’, hairdresser to the stars. The car is coming up for sale with auctioneers H&H Classics Ltd on July 26th at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford and is estimated to sell for £40,000 to £50,000. 

Leonard converted 6 Upper Grosvenor Street, London W1 into a five-storey hairdressing salon and counted the following as clients: President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tony Curtis, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Marley, Marie Helvin, Jerry Hall, David Bowie, Warren Beatty, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minelli, Meryl Streep, Faye Dunaway, Barbara Streisand, Christine Keeler, Reggie Kray, Grace Kelly, Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick. Responsible for the haircuts in the latter’s Clockwork Orange film, Lewis also helped transform Lesley Hornby into ‘Twiggy’ via a bold Eton Crop. 

Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick became lifelong friends of Leonard Lewis as did the society writer Richard Compton Miller who described Lewis thus: ‘He was the first hairdressing superstar, who taught John Frieda, Daniel Galvin, Nicky Clarke and many more household names. Leonard could barely read or write and yet created some of the unique styles of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. He was so renowned he was known only by his Christian name’. 

A bona fide trend-setter and confidant of the rich and famous, it was Lewis who had the Wood & Pickett-transformed Mini painted Pacific Dark Blue in 1971 (its copy logbook indicating the colour change took place in October that year). Given his status it is not difficult to imagine ‘YYU 292H’ roaring around London’s hippest streets with some of the twentieth century’s most famous people aboard! 

Damian Jones, Head of Sales at H&H Classics says: “This Mini is a wonderful example of a car that became a British automotive style icon, an exhilarating drive and with links to celebrity London in the 1970s. These coachbuilt Mini’s were the preferred transport of many celebrities, both Peter Sellers and John Lennon had one as did so many others.” 

The Mini sports saloon was also previously owned by the musician John Frederick Hammel in 1974. He reportedly swapped it for a BMW and £300 in cash and showing some 21,000 miles to its odometer at the time, the Cooper S was repainted Claret shortly thereafter. Hammel sold the Margrave to Denny Laine (formerly of The Moody Blues and then a member of Wings) in 1978 for the latter’s wife JoJo to use but soon found himself asking to buy it back. 

His second tenure lasted until 1998 when Andy Stewart purchased ‘YYU 292H’. Passing to Hammel for a third time in the early 2000s, he subsequently had the Margrave restored to its former glory such that it won the MiniWorld Car of the Show Trophy at the 2009 London to Brighton Mini Run. Perhaps best known as Sir Paul McCartney’s long-time guitar technician, Mr Hammel has owned numerous classics over the years but had a particular affinity for this one which his friend Steve Marriott of Humble Pie apparently referred to as ‘a 100-miles per hour pair of shades’. 
Reputedly the only Morris Mini Cooper S to be converted to Margrave specification by coachbuilder Wood & Pickett, chassis K-A2S6/1321285 was despatched to dealer Stewart & Arden Ltd of Acton, London on 9th December 1969 but not road registered as ‘YYU 292H’ until 11th September 1970. 

The ten-month gap was understandable given the craftsmanship that went into its subtly reworked exterior and thoroughly remodelled interior. Both front wings were given modest peaks (something of a W&P trademark), the headlamps gained hooded chrome surrounds (Riley 1.5 litre items) and the doors were modified to accept James Young-fabricated opening quarterlights, Piper electric windows and repositioned Princess 1100 handles. The Benelite front grille played host to Lucas LR9 spotlights, while a full-length Webasto sunroof and sleeker MKIII Mini boot lid were both added. 

A more aggressive stance came courtesy of wheelarch extensions housing wider wheels / tyres. Inside, the diminutive sports saloon was treated to Aston Martin DB6-style Black leather seats to complement its Aston Martin electric window switches, Rolls-Royce cigarette lighter, Rolls-Royce door handles and Jaguar / MG instrumentation. A drop bracket allowed the steering column to be repositioned and a padded central armrest with cubby nestled between the front seats. Left in standard Cooper S tune, ‘YYU 292H’ thus boasted a twin-carburettor fed 1275cc engine, four-speed manual transmission, hydrolastic independent suspension and disc/drum brakes.