John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom V is coming home to London for the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Lennon Phantom is one of eight Phantoms showcasing the history of the prestige British carmaker in London later this month.
The Beatles rode the car to Buckingham Palace in 1965 to receive one of the highest civilian honours, Member of the Order of the British Empire. At that time, the car was painted Valentine Black.
Lennon made a second trip to the palace in the Rolls-Royce in 1969 to return the medal in protest of the Vietnam War and British involvement in the Nigerian civil war. By this point, the car was done up in kaleidoscope colours and synonymous with the Sgt. Pepper album.
Before the album's release, Lennon had sent the car to artist Steve Weaver who painted the sedan in the style of Romany caravans with flowers, zodiac signs and scrollwork to match the album’s artwork and whimsy. The car was unveiled with album’s release on June 1, 1967.
The interior had already been refitted with a fold-out bed, a radio, a fridge, an eight-track tape deck, a black-and-white Sony television and a floating 45 rpm record player.
Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono shipped the 3,000 kg car to the United States when they moved to New York in 1971. It has carried the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, Elton John and Bob Dylan.
Canadian billionaire and philanthropist Jim Pattison had bought the car for USD 2.29 million (Dh8.4 million) from a Sotheby’s auction in 1985 for display in his Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums. Pattison donated it to the province of British Columbia in 1987 after displaying it at the 1986 Vancouver Expo. It has since been in the care of the Royal British Columbia Museum in the city of Victoria.
The Phantom isn’t the album’s only Canadian link. A Canadian police officer named Sgt. Randall Pepper who provided security for the Beatles in Canada during 1964 may have he inspired the album’s name. Paul McCartney wore an Ontario Provincial Police patch on the album cover.
The Lennon Phantom will be on display in London at the Rolls-Royce exhibition, The Great Eight Phantoms, at Bonhams on New Bond Street in Mayfair from July 29 to August 2.