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John Lennon's Rolls-Royce Phantom Has Its Own Caretaker


John Lennon Rolls-Royce Phantom V sedan by Flickr user edvvc

John Lennon Rolls-Royce Phantom V sedan by Flickr user edvvc



John Lennon's Rolls-Royce Phantom V, by Flickr user edvvc


If you're an auto mechanic, your chances of being personally linked to one of the 20th century's biggest names in music have to be minuscule or non-existent.

But Jim Walters is more than just a technician. He is an auto restorer of great note and co-drove and prepared a 1938 Packard Super Eight for the Motor Challenge of the Millennium, which marked the new century with an 80-day rally around the world.

So where's the link to one of music's most iconic figures?

According to The Globe and Mail, in 1965, John Lennon purchased a Rolls-Royce Phantom V Limousine, which at the time was the transportation mode preferred by the very rich and notable. This particular Phantom carried the Beatles to Buckingham Palace for the ceremony inducting them as Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Lennon later returned his MBE medal to the Queen as a protest to the Vietnam War.

The Phantom, on the other hand, enjoyed the singer songwriter's attention as he retooled the interior with amenities including a bed, TV and a refrigerator. The availability of a radio telephone must have offered unusual freedom considering the communications of the time.

The outside was repainted using yellow, blue and orange arranged in a Romany or Gypsy theme--which Lennon was familiar with because he had bought a caravan that looked similar and used it as a garden fixture. Steve Weaver was the artist.

With the limo's appearance and infrastructure set in stone, the land cruiser (over 18 feet long) made its way to New York after the Beatles broke up. In 1978 Lennon and Yoko Ono donated the car to a museum in exchange for a tax break. In 1985, it resurfaced again at a Sotheby's auction and was expected to bring about $300,000, but amazingly the auto was purchased by Jimmy Pattison, a car dealer and entrepreneur from Vancouver for $2.2 million.

Eventually the Phantom was donated to the province and landed in the Royal British Columbia Museum. In 1993 Jim Walters was engaged by the museum to care for the car, which he found under an unfolded parachute in an underground garage, which was hardly the best of conditions for such a valuable piece of motor vehicle history.

The link between Walters and the Phantom goes beyond the maintenance and restoration work he has done on the Phantom over the years. The insurer goes as far as requiring that Walters be the only person allowed to drive the car.

The Globe and Mail says the proper care of the car includes periodic runs down the road, which is understandable, but how do you accomplish this with such a valuable piece? Mr. Walters thinks that you rent a speedway, sweep and inspect the roadbed for debris and have at it.

"Get all the seals lubricated, Oil pumped through everything," he said.

[The Globe and Mail & Bristol Motors]      
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  1. The Phantom V formerly owned by John Lennon as John says here is owned by the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC, Canada. It was donated to the Province of BC by the then owner Jimmy Pattison after he displayed it at Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC. It is currently on display in the lobby of the RBCM as of January 2011. It is usually displayed there from November to May each year unless it is loaned out to another museum. It has been displayed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (2004)(above picture) and the Henry Ford Museum (2007) I am looking for the original TV that used to be in this car. If you have a circa 1967 Sony Transistor 12 volt portable TV that you are willing to part with please contact me at jim@bristolmotors.com It's actually 19 feet, 10 inches long, I had to measure it just last week to see if it would fit in an enclosed car trailer.
     
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