On this day in auto history – May 24th

Mon 24th May 2021

It was on this day in 1967 that John Lennon took delivery of a newly-customised Rolls Royce which was to become one of the most iconic vehicles of the 1960’s, and one of the most expensive vehicles in the world.

The legendary musician - then riding high on the unprecedented fame of the Beatles - had his Valentine Black Phantom V sprayed yellow in the style of a gypsy caravan to celebrate the upcoming release of the psychedelia-inspired album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In true rock-star style, the Rolls-Royce was also customised to include a television, a telephone, a refrigerator, a floating record player and a rear seat which converted into a double bed.

The Phantom was regularly used by Lennon, usually with a chauffeur, including in 1969 when he made his way to Buckingham Palace to famously return his MBE in protest at, amongst other things, Britain’s support of the Vietnam War.

When the vehicle was auctioned by Sothebys, five years after Lennon’s death in 1985, it fetched a staggering $2,229,000 - then the highest price ever paid for a vehicle at auction.

The winning-bidder, Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison, eventually donated the vehicle to the Royal British Colombia Museum where it still resides today.