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John Lennon modified his Rolls-Royce like only a rock star could

This Phantom V complemented the ’Sgt. Pepper’s’ album

Unless you have millions in the bank and dozens of hit records, you have no right riding this. PHOTO FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

Today, October 9th, is the birthday of John Lennon; he would have been 79 years old if he had not been killed by a lunatic. And because I’m such a Beatles fan, I’m remembering this, the Rolls-Royce Phantom V Lennon bought and received on June 3, 1965. At the time of purchase, the original paint job was a color the British automaker called Valentine Black.

In a press statement released by Rolls-Royce two years ago, Lennon was quoted as having said that “he always wanted to be an eccentric millionaire, and the Phantom [was] an important step toward that dream.”

That elegant hood ornament is more than enough to humble snooty car owners out there. PHOTOS FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

And because he was a larger-than-life rock star, Lennon had the car modified so that its cabin would have a double bed, a TV, a refrigerator, a record player and a customized sound system. Heaven knows what kind of hedonistic activities took place inside that limousine.

The intricate paint job is actually a work of art. PHOTOS FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

In April 1967, just before the release of the legendary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Lennon commissioned a coachbuilder to change the Phantom V’s color. The resulting artwork was described by Rolls-Royce as “a floral Romany scroll design, as used on gypsy caravans and canal barges, with a zodiac symbol on the roof.”

We wonder if that is the total mileage this car traveled as John Lennon’s ride. Maybe not. PHOTO FROM ROLLS-ROYCE

It was this automobile that Lennon reportedly used both when he accepted his MBE (together with the other Beatles) in 1965, and when he returned said distinction in 1969 for political reasons (particularly as a sign of protest against the Vietnam War). And while the car has changed ownership through the decades, it will forever be known as John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce.



Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 24 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. The rest, as they say, is rock and roll. He writes the column ‘Spoiler’.



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