1965 Phantom V Rolls Royce
The John Lennon Phantom V Touring Limousine Rolls Royce was purchased by John Lennon in December 1964 and delivered in June of 1965. When Lennon ordered the car, he did not yet have his driver’s licence.
It was originally painted valentine Black and was the largest model made by Rolls Royce with all options and many custom orders. The walnut trim interior included state-of-the-art features such as an 8-track tape deck, a record player, a radio-telephone and the first experiment with tinted window glass.
The curb weight of a standard 1964 Phantom V Rolls Royce is 3,000 kilograms. In comparison, a 2016 smart fortwo coupé (“Smart car”) weighs only 820 kilograms.
It was this Rolls that carried The Beatles to Buckingham Palace to receive medals from the Queen.
The car was damaged when Lennon took it to Spain the following year, for the film, How I Won the War. When it was repaired and updated, Lennon added new features such as a rear seat that converts into a bed, and a television.
In 1967, Lennon sent the rolls to J.P. Fallon of Chertsey, Surrey where local artist Steve Weaver designed custom paintwork in a Romany Gypsy style, with elements of the psychedelic era. The car was delivered to Lennon just before the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released.
Mr. Weaver used ordinary but very vulnerable house (latex) paint. The Royal BC Museum monitors the paint condition closely and has done conservation work on the paint.
The car has been in mechanical operating condition for fifty years. The engine powers the brakes, a necessary feature given its weight.
The car has been in the Royal BC Museum collection for more than 20 years and has been on display at various museum special events. It has also been exhibited across North America, most recently at exhibits in Montreal and in Vancouver at the 2015 PNE, and was sent by air in Britain.
OWNERSHIP POST- LENNON
In 1970, Lennon and Yoko Ono took the car to the US. Due to tax issues it was donated to the Cooper Hewett Museum in 1974 and shown in an exhibit on design. It was then sold at auction at a Sotheby’s Auction in 1985. It was purchased by BC billionaire entrepreneur James “Jimmy” Pattison, OC, OBC, for his chain of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” Museums for US $2,299,000 and displayed in his largest venue in Florida as “the world’s most expensive car.”
The Premier of BC appointed Mr. Pattison to oversee the Expo 86 World’s fair. As the theme of the fair was “Transportation and Communication: World in Motion - World in Touch”, many vehicles were displayed – including the Rolls, an extremely popular and photogenic attraction.
After Expo ’86, instead of exporting the vehicle, Mr. Pattison donated it to the Province in 1987 for museum exhibit. Ownership changed hands for $1.
The Rolls Royce was selected as one of the Royal BC Museum’s 100 Objects of Interest in 2014.
The Rolls Royce hasn’t been displayed at the Royal BC Museum since 2011. In 2012/13 it was on display in Montreal and in 2014 it was displayed at the PNE in Vancouver for “Magical Mystery Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition.”
For more information on the Royal BC Museum: http://www.RoyalBCMuseum.bc.ca
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