John Lennon’s Psychedelic Rolls-Royce Has Gone On Display At Canada’s Royal BC Museum
Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press
Despite remaining in storage due to it’s size, the three-tonne vehicle is a regular feature of the museum’s collection.
The 1965 model Phantom V Rolls-Royce is also one of the most expensive items to come into the historical organization’s possession.
“The car always generates a lot of excitement, enthusiasm and inspiration,” collections manager Paul Ferguson has shared. “For some, apart from the music, this is as close as you can get to John Lennon in British Columbia.”
First coming into Lennon’s possession in 1965, the Beatle commissioned the striking design to coincide with the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.
Lennon’s primary mode of transport at the height of his LSD consumption, the car regularly ferried the Beatles’ friends on hallucinogenic journeys across the English countryside.
The Beatle’s subversive painting of one of England’s most recognizable status symbols did not pass without controversy, often eliciting cries of outrage as it cruised through city streets.
John, never one known to linger on a single sense of style for too long, would later lose interest in the car, shiting to an all-white model in 1968.
This said the singer did ferry it over to the USA when he relocated there with wife Yoko Ono at the onset of the 1970s.
After John Lennon‘s death in 1980, the car was sold to British Columbian businessman Jimmy Pattison in 1985.
After paying more than $2 million for the car, Pattison later donated it to the local government in 1987, where it has been displayed on and off in the museum ever since.
Maintaining the vehicle is no easy task.
“It’s one of our most challenging items in the collection,” museum conservator Kasey Lee has stated. “It was painted by an artist and not a vehicle detailer using a paint that’s not necessarily going to last in the winter.”
The car is also of a mechanical nightmare, something which John Lennon, said to be a notoriously poor driver, no doubt contributed to.
“It was poorly maintained, it sat for a long time and with the fuel from sitting, carburetors were jammed,” Tom Munro, a mechanic who works regularly with the car, has stated. “It needed some electric work and we looked at brakes, but it purrs like a kitten in a creamery now.”
The Rolls-Royce will be on display until the end of February.