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John Lennon's Psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom V Comes Home For Great Eight Phantoms Event

Forbes logo Forbes 12/07/2017 Mark Ewing, Contributor

John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom comes home to England for the Great Eight Phantoms gathering later this month.

John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom comes home to England for the Great Eight Phantoms gathering later this month.
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John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom comes home to England for the Great Eight Phantoms gathering later this month.

While filming How I Won The War in 1966 and early ‘67, John Lennon racked up thousands of miles on his black Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousine, taking a toll on its original black paintwork. Home in London in the spring of 1967, Lennon commissioned a fresh paint scheme with J.P. Fallon Ltd., a coach builder in Surrey.

There’s some magical mystery about genesis of the concept, but it seems that Marijke Koger of the artist’s collective The Fool suggested a Romany theme similar to the refurbished gypsy caravan in Lennon’s home garden. Fallon commissioned local artist Steve Weaver, and the work was completed six weeks later.

The Romany designs were executed in common house paint, which has required considerable maintenance over the years. The car, however, still runs.

Lennon and Yoko Ono took the car to the U.S. in 1970. The Phantom was frequently loaned to other rock bands of the era to serve as a shuttle. Due to tax issues, Lennon donated it to the Cooper Hewitt Museum in 1974.

Sotheby’s sold the car at auction in 1985 to British Columbia billionaire entrepreneur James “Jimmy” Pattison for his chain of Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” Museums for $2.29 million. Pattison donated the car in 1987 for museum exhibit. In 2014, it was displayed in Vancouver for “Magical Mystery Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition.”

Lennon’s Phantom V features Romany gypsy artwork.

Lennon’s Phantom returns to London for the gathering, Great Eight Phantoms, to celebrate arrival of the new Phantom VIII, where it will exemplify the eccentric side of Rolls-Royce.

The artist’s collective, The Fool, was responsible for much of the psychedelic art of the mid-1960s, producing album covers, stage gear, and program art for Eric Clapton’s band, Cream. The Fool also designed the psychedelic clothes featured in the Beatles recorded performance of “I Am The Walrus.”

Lennon’s Phantom has been in Canada for many years. Before the Great Eight Phantoms gathering, it is spending time in the care of Rolls-Royce technicians in Goodwood, England.

At one point, Lennon installed a double bed in the rear compartment. He said having the car fulfilled his childhood desire to be an eccentric millionaire.

Psychedelic.

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