Rolls Royce Bringing John Lennon’s Phantom V to London to Celebrate the Brand
The custom Rolls will be shipped back to the U.K. from Canada to go on display in London.
John Lennon once said that he wanted to be an "eccentric millionaire," and he cited the purchase of his 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom V as a big step towards achieving that goal. Eccentric is the right word, as the car has been massively customized in a manner befitting one of the Fab Four.
Now, more than 50 years later, let’s take a look at this mad machine—which is being shipped from Canada to the U.K. to play a part in the “Great Eight Phantoms” exhibition at Bonhams in London from July 29 to August 2—and ponder this question: Is Lennon's Rolls-Royce the perfect physical representation of 60’s chic and Beatlemania, or was John Lennon the Xzibit of his era, pimping this classic beauty into an automotive travesty?
There’s something majestic, subtle and grandiose about a classic Rolls Royce. The Phantom V bridges the gap perfectly between the beautiful old coach built machines from the '30s and '40s and the long line of big, extravagant but slightly more conventional-looking saloon cars in the modern day.
This particular Phantom V, however, is very different from most. Lennon had it custom-fitted with a raft of upgrades, including a fridge, a television, a telephone (how this worked in the 60’s I have no idea), and, to finish it all off, a big double bed installed where the rear seats used to be. One can only imagine what kind of antics this car has played host to.
Then to top it off, in 1967 when the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released, Lennon decided to completely forget any kind of subtlety and commissioned a custom paint job inspired by Romany Gypsy caravans. It’s very yellow,and quite flowery, echoing the cover artwork for the album.
If these modifications were to be made today to a classic Rolls Royce, it would be considered a travesty, a perversion, and an insult to one of the greatest and oldest car manufacturers—but the fact that they were chosen by Lennon? That legitimizes it, and it simply oozes an attitude of decadent cool.
So were they in good taste at the time? Was Lennon a pioneer, beating Xzibit to the punch by 30-plus years? Probably not. He was just an eccentric dude with an awful lot of money and a very particular taste. Having said that, the last incarnation of the Phantom came with a TV, telephone, and fridge—and although it was missing a double bed, the rear seats did recline. He may not have paved the way for Xzibit, but in a strange way, Lennon may have paved a path for Rolls Royce itself.