John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce is making a flying visit to London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Phantom V is like no other Rolls you have ever seen because it has been cutomised in true rock star fashion with a double bed in the back.
Lennon took delivery of the car on June 3, 1965.
As well as a double bed, he added a television, telephone and refrigerator, along with a ‘floating’ record player and a custom sound system that included an external loud hailer.
Then, in April 1967, just as the recording of the game-changing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was finishing, Lennon asked Surrey coachbuilders, JP Fallon, to give the Phantom a new paint job.
The freshly-painted Phantom was unveiled days before the worldwide release of Sgt. Pepper’s on June 1 and it seemed part of the overall concept of the album.
The new colour scheme is often described as ‘psychedelic’ and certainly the colours, particularly the dominant yellow, reflected the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
But look carefully and you will see it is no random swirl, but a floral Romany scroll design, as used on gypsy caravans and canal barges, with a zodiac symbol on the roof.
The Rolls was used regularly by Lennon until 1969 who also owned a slightly less conspicuous all-white Phantom V.
Having used the car, pre-paint change, to collect his MBE with bandmates in 1965, he used it again in 1969 to return said same MBE to the Palace, in protest against, among other things – the Vietnam War.
The car was shipped to the USA in 1970 when Lennon moved there and was loaned out to ferry other rock stars around such as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Moody Blues.
In 1977, after a period in storage, it was donated by billionaire Jim Pattison to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
‘The Great Eight Phantoms’ – a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will take place at Bonhams international flagship saleroom and galleries in New Bond Street, from July 29 to August 2.