HAROLD RADFORD (COACHBUILDERS) LTD

 

"A BRIEF HISTORY"

 

 

HAROLD RADFORD (COACHBUILDER) LTD was formed in 1950 when it's parent company took over the coach-building firm Seary and McReady and in the process changed their trading name. Working from Brent Crescent, Park Royal and later from 124 King Street, Hammersmith the new company carried out conversions on cars such as Rolls Royce and Bentley making them into Countryman bodies. In January 1958 the Radford organisation was acquired by the Swain Group who already owned the famous coach-builders 'Freestone & Webb'.

In April 1963 Radfords announced three versions of their new 'Mini de Ville' - the "GRANDE LUXE" based on the Mini Cooper with full specification priced at 1080 - the "BEL AIR" with slightly reduced specification. There was also the "De Luxe" which had limousine comfort but still retaining the Minis outward features.

Following the 1963 London Motor Show, Swain Group sold off the coach-building side of the business to a city syndicate. It also saw Harold Radford whom had parted with the company just after the launch of the Mini de Ville back again as a consultant.

The Mini de Ville continued to be produced in some numbers and was uprated in July 1964 with the introduction of a MK ll version. The biggest changes of all came in October 1965 with the announcement of the 'Mini de Ville GT' the quality was even better than before and a new dash fasia layout had a matching Speedo & Rev Counter. Also offered was a one piece rear door to give the car an estate car feature, this was launched by actor Peter Seller who had order one for his wife Britt Ekland.

There were many staff changes during 1966 and although the company were still getting new orders called in the receivers, and as part of its reorganisation in 1967 let part of their showrooms. By September of that year the companies assets were sold off to the newly formed 'Harold Radford Coachbuilders (1967) Ltd' who coutinued to do the same type of work to the Mini.

The (1967) Ltd introduced a MK lll version of the Mini de Ville and said to have 63 improvements which included new shaped seating and a smaller opening rear door.

I July 1968 the company changed its name to "RADFORD, FREESTONE & WEBB' and moved to new premises at Radford Works, Old Oak Lane, NE10. A few Mini de Villes were built in the 70's using Leylands new Mini MK lll model but the firm was wound up in October 1975 and dissolved a year later.

The original company Harold Radford (Coachbuilders) Ltd although had produced no cars for ten years was dissolved at the end of 1977. The name was used again in the late 80's and some Minis were marketed under the name 'Mini de Ville' using after market accessories this came to an end in 1996, only to have the name registered again in May 1997 with a hope of building Radford Innocenti Minis ! but as yet none have appeared.

 

 


Below : the first ‘Mini de Ville’ April 1963.

 

 

Below : one of the last Mini de Villes August 1970.


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