The Rolls-Royce Phantom V by John Lennon

15 May

Legend tells that while the Beatle was driving his Phantom V through the streets of London, an English lady came up to him and shouted “Pig! How dare you do that to a Rolls-Royce?” For “that”, the lady was referring to the psychedelic design that Lennon had given to Phantom V acquired in 1965. Two years before the release of the legendary album by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Lennon decided to capture his new more extravagant facet eliminating the original black of the Rolls-Royce and modifying the interior. And the result, like Lennon himself, did not leave anyone indifferent. With an aesthetic reminiscent of the gypsy caravans of the time, with floral details and painted in yellow, was a “crime” against the refined and sober British style.

But the changes were not limited only to the exterior, but also its interior was modified in the image and likeness of the brilliant musician. A double bed replacing the rear seats, a refrigerator, a television or a sophisticated sound system, came to delight the Liverpool man. As commented by the closest to the singer, the “Psychedelic Rolls” was a statement by Lennon against the establishment. The Rolls-Royce was the canvas on which expressed its provocation against the highest spheres of society. It is anecdotal that Lennon ordered the purchase of the car before passing his driving test. It was not until months later, in February 1965, at the age of 24, that Lennon got his license. However, his skills as a driver questioned his traffic examiner.

Being one of the first cars in the United Kingdom to have tinted windows, Lennon acknowledged that it was not so much to maintain his privacy (it was impossible to go unnoticed) but to be as dark as a nightclub. In this way, when it was daylight, the party could continue in the Rolls Royce, which was already equipped with large doses of Champagne and Whiskey. In the documentary The Beatles Anthology (1995), Paul McCartney recalled how on several occasions after recording in the studio, about two or three in the morning, he together with Lennon and George Harrison had fun with a somewhat reckless game.

Lennon, who was part of the cast of the film “How I Won the War”, moved to Almeria, whose arid landscape would be the scene of it. Ordering his driver to bring the Rolls Royce from England, this became his refuge in a summer that helped the musician to find some peace and to start writing the legendary song Strawberry Fields Forever. Although it can’t be ruled out that the inspiration came also for all the marijuana that he consumed in his car, and that he transported in a candy box. The locals for their part, absorbed by their presence, approached the car while the Beatle shouted through the loudspeaker not to put their hands in the car. Something that the most rogue disobeyed while writing “The Beatle” with the dust and sand that it accumulated. The adventure of Lennon with his Phantom V would hardly last four years, until 1969. From that moment it was changing hands until finally it was donated in 1977 to the Royal British Columbia of Canada and by the billionaire Jim Pattison.