Thursday 22 October 2020

The master of going faster

Bluebell Service Station
366 Liverpool Road
Huyton, L36

George Harrison began to take driving lessons at the beginning of 1962, passing the test on his first attempt. 

Naturally enough his next step was to buy a car.    

Brian Epstein referred George to his friend Terry Doran who worked at Hawthorne Motors, a Ford dealership in Warrington to the east of Liverpool. 

Doran offered the Beatle a second-hand, two-door blue Ford Anglia 105E Deluxe at a reduced price in exchange for some free publicity. George agreed to pose for photos with his new motor and the deal was struck - a cash deposit followed by weekly payments.   

At the end of March, he was drinking with friends, including Ringo – at that time still with Rory Storm and The Hurricanes – and mentioned that he'd found a car to buy. 

George needed a ride to Warrington to collect the Anglia and Ringo offered to take him.

On the 27 March, a day without engagements for The Beatles,  Ringo collected George in his hand painted (“painted by hand”) green and white Ford Zodiac and set off for Warrington. 

The former premises of Hawthorne Engineering Company, 6 Lovely Lane, Warrington 

After collecting the car, youthful bravado got the better of them, and they raced each other back to Liverpool - Beatle against Hurricane - along the A57 (Warrington Road / Liverpool Road).

Ringo recalled that day’s events during the filming of a scene for the Beatles Anthology where the Threetles were talking about their first cars: 

Ringo: You had a green Anglia

George: Blue.

Ringo: I took you to get that car.

George: Did you?

Ringo: Yes, to...

George: (remembering) Warrington?

Ringo: Yes, and as we were coming home, you may not remember...

George: (smiling) Oh yeah? 

Ringo: You were speeding and I was speeding and we were both bumper to bumper and then you overtook this car in front, and I was ready to overtake, and just as I got right up his arse a dog ran out in front of him so he slammed on his brakes (BANG) I smashed right into him, wrote the f*ck out of my car but was lucky it was by a garage cos I drove it ....well pushed it into the garage... and I had no licence or insurance.

George: Did I stop or did I keep going?

Ringo: No you kept going

George: I didn’t see what happened?

Ringo: No, you just didn’t give a damn

George: Even to this day I never knew about that! 

George went to Hamburg on 12 April, and wouldn’t see Ringo for another four months.

Bluebell Service Station, Liverpool Road today

Ringo’s radiator was kaput. He managed to push the car onto the forecourt of Bluebell Service Station on Liverpool Road, Huyton, approximately 8 miles from his home in Admiral Grove.

As he had no motor insurance he was left to foot the repair bill of £67/3s/3d himself, a huge sum in 1962!

It would have to wait*. At the end of March Rory Storm and the Hurricanes left Liverpool for a tour of American military bases in France. On 30 March, three days after the crash, Ringo and Bobby Thompson boarded a train to London from where they took another to Dover before crossing over to Calais. 

They expected the final leg of the journey - seven hours by train to Bordeaux to be hard going but it was worse than they could have imagined. Just prior to their arrival in France there had been terrorist attacks by far-right nationalists and the police were now on high alert. In Paris they were dragged off the train at gun point, the two terrified, non-French speaking Hurricanes trying hard to convince the gendermes that Ringo's drum cases did not contain explosive devices.

By the time they were released they'd missed the Bordeaux train and had to carry their gear around Paris looking for a room for the night. They finally arrived at the US Army base in Fontenet on 1 April where they met up with the other Hurricanes who'd made the journey by car. They were in Europe for most of the spring and early summer, moving on to a club in Marbella, Spain, and then another army base before returning to play the summer season at Butlin’s Holiday Camp, Skegness, on the east coast of England. 

It was while Ringo was at Skegness that he received the offer to join the Beatles. 


It appears from the date on the repair bill (14th September 1962) that Ringo’s Zodiac lay inactive for some time. The repairs cost around £1,240 in today's money.

Within months of buying the Anglia George had received two cautions for speeding.


  1. Your articles are very well written and I find them fascinating!
    Did you find out how much George paid for the car?
    I saw the picture in Hawthorne with John and Paul in it as well. Pretty amazing that the band at that point were famous enough for a magazine to want to take their pictures.

  2. The funny thing is that when you look at the three known photos from the advertising shot it looks like they were quite unmotivated to get this task done. One has Paul in near-motion and the car is not even entirely visible besides being shot through a fence, one has a potentially nice photo of George on the hood but he has his tounge out (on purpose? It is the one you got at the top of the article) and the one finally used has the lads standing near the car but not looking very enthusiatic either. Almost as if they thought this is an awful idea and were kind of sabotaging it.

  3. PS:
    all three shots:
    the final ad: