John Lennon’s Phantom V joins ‘The Great Eight Phantoms’

Another significant Rolls-Royce Phantom joins the already-iconic lineup

To celebrate the 50th year of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album by The Beatles, Rolls-Royce brings back the Phantom V to London to join The Great Eight Phantoms Exhibition at Bonhams, New Bond Street in England.

Famous for once being owned by the legendary music icon John Lennon, this Phantom V is currently owned by the Royal British Columbia Museum in Canada.

Lennon had the Phantom V customized in true rock-star style. The rear seat was converted to a double bed, a television, telephone and refrigerator were installed, along with a ‘floating’ record player and a custom sound system (which 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 1 June and it seemed part of the overall concept of the album.

The new color scheme is often described as ‘psychedelic’ and certainly the colors, 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 Phantom V was used regularly by Lennon until 1969 (Lennon also owned a slightly less conspicuous all-white Phantom V). He used it collect his MBE (Member of  the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an award given by the Queen to an individual for outstanding service to the community) with his bandmates in 1965. Lennon then used it again in 1969 to return his 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, London, from 29 July to the 2 August.