BRADENTON -- When Manatee High School’s orchestra strikes up “Eleanor Rigby” on Friday night at Jake’s Automotive there will be a distinguished set piece on the premises.
It’s a sage green 1965 Morris Mini Cooper, a sub-compact with about 50,000 miles on it.
If it could talk, what stories it would tell.
Better yet, what music it would make.
Paul McCartney was its original owner.
“Amazing,” said MHS orchestra director Sherry Lowe.
“What an icon,” said Jake’s owner Gary Bogart.
“A cool car with an awful lot of history,” said Costantino’s owner Chris Costantino.
It’s on loan from Sarasota Car Museum owner Martin Godby for Jake’s 14th annual Concert in the Garage, a fundraiser presented by the MHS orchestra. Beatles music will be a featured part of their show.
The orchestras from King and Sugg Middle schools will also perform.
“This concert is always their favorite, but we have a definite focus this year,” Lowe said.
“We’ve never tied our music to a car, but I think they’ll connect with this one. I’m surprised how many of them are into the Beatles.”
The Mini Cooper happened to be in Costantino’s Body Shop for minor repairs and detailing when Chris Costantino heard the concert was coming up and had an idea for Bogart.
“Gary said they were doing the Beatles, so I said how cool would it be to have a Beatles’ car at the concert? I said Martin Godby’s a good friend of mine and he’s got one,” Costantino said. “Martin was happy to do it.”
The Mini Cooper and three more like it were given to the four Beatles as a gift from music manager Brian Epstein.
The cars were custom made with power windows, sunroof, walnut trim, leather interior, plush wool carpeting, custom grill and head lamps and molded tail lights.
“It’s still in darn nice shape,” Costantino said.
According to the car’s information, McCartney drove it daily during the Beatles formative years in 1965-1970.
He also enjoyed driving it into the English countryside where he was inspired to write “The Fool On the Hill,” recorded in 1967.
“McCartney had a real attachment to this car,” Costantino said.
For good reason.
It’s also the car in which the Beatle had his first date with future wife Linda, whom he’d wed in 1969.
“That’s so romantic and makes the car even more special,” Sherry Lowe said.
McCartney’s management team received an invite to Friday’s concert.
Though it was declined, a letter of support is supposed to be on the way.
There will be 50 classic cars on the grounds at Jake’s, but Paul McCartney’s Mini Cooper figures to be the center of attention.
“What a unique tie-in to the whole gist of promoting these kids and their music,” Gary Bogart said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055.