Car History - May 25, Pt. 2: John Lennon takes delivery of psychadelic Rolls-Royce, and the car's Canadian connection
Posted May 25th 2012 10:30AM
On this day in 1967, John Lennon's Rolls-Royce Phantom Limousine received a repaint that shocked the world - in good ways and bad.
The car started out as a Phantom, serial number 5VD73, painted in Valentine Black. However, even in this state, this wasn't any old Phantom (as if one could say that about a Rolls). This was John Lennon's phantom. He had the rear seat modified to convert to a double bed, a custom interior, a Sony television, phone, and even a refrigerator. Being a rock star, he also had a turntable and loudspeaker system installed. This is especially impressive considering it was done in the 60s.
The Beatles would use the car for their various doings, but it wasn't long until Lennon probably got bored of the drab black paint. He needed something more suited to his own flamboyant lifestyle. Inspired by an old gypsy's wagon he had purchased for his garden, Lennon decided a bright yellow finish with all sorts of colourful flowery patterns is what the car needed.
Read more after the jump.
The work was done by artist Steve Weaver. The car arrived with a CAD$467 (£290) bill. The vehicle was a visual shock to any onlooker - it still is for that matter. One account says and elderly lady attacked the car with an umbrella whilst proclaiming "You swine! You swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce?" Other reports say that Rolls-Royce themselves were not too pleased either.
Lennon would continue using it after the split of the Beatles. Occasionally he'd let a few friends behind the wheel as well. Friends like The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Elton John. Lennon and Yoko Ono eventually donated the car to a museum in 1978, but it was put into storage. It emerged again after his assassination where Vancouverite Jimmy Pattison bid a shocking $2.2-million for it at auction.
Pattison exhibited the car and then donated it to the province of British Columbia, where it was placed in the Royal B.C. Museum. The current caretaker, Jim Walters, is the only person certified to drive the car. He has kept up on the maintenance, but is missing one component to make it complete - a portable Sony television from 1967 to replace the original.
News Source: The Globe and Mail