John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce Phantom V: From Blacked-out to Psychedelic Yellow

In 1964, John Lennon and The Beatles were everywhere in the news. To celebrate the success of the Hard Day’s Night album, Lennon decided to give himself a Rolls-Royce Phantom V luxury sedan. But this wasn’t just any Phantom V. The custom luxury sedan was quite the trendsetter and was even one of the first cars in the country to have a blacked-out color scheme. Once a trendsetter, always a trendsetter.

John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce Phantom V was one-of-a-kind

John Lennon's Rolls-Royce Phantom V approaches the gates of Buckingham Palace
John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce Phantom V approaches the gates of Buckingham Palace, London, England on October 26, 1965 | Daily Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images

According to Rolls-Royce, Lennon ordered his custom Rolls-Royce Phantom V from R. S. Mead of Maidenhead. He requested that all of the parts usually finished in chrome be finished in black. Lennon wanted the Phantom V to be totally black, inside and out. Mulliner Park Ward ended up building the vehicle and was supplied with “all-black gloss paintwork, including the wheel discs and bumpers.”

According to Rolls-Royce, it was one of the first vehicles to have blacked-out windows in Britain. The company used “darkened, reflective Triplex Deeplight glass, 3/16” thick in the rear doors and 3/4” in the rear quarter lights, backlight, and division glass.” Lennon did this for privacy, but he had other reasons as well.

“People think they’ve got black windows to hide.  It’s partly that, but it’s also for when you’re coming home late. If it’s daylight when you’re coming home, it’s still dark inside the car – you just shut all the windows and you’re still in the club.”

John Lennon | Rolling Stone

You know, rock star stuff.

Inside the Rolls-Royce Phantom V belonging to John Lennon

John Lennon Rolls-Royce Phantom V
The John Lennon Rolls-Royce Phantom V | Dave M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

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John Lennon requested the interior have black Bedford cord cloth and black nylon rugs in the rear. In the front, black leather was used. The luxury sedan also had connections for radio and a television set. He didn’t confirm, but Rolls-Royce says it was rumored to have a record player, phone, refrigerator, and even some moody red lights. It also came with a set of black luggage, and some say a pull-out bed was added at some point.

But after that, Lennon decided to change the look of the Rolls-Royce Phantom V completely. He opted for a bright yellow psychedelic paint job with scrolls, flowers, and matching wheels. “It is wholly unique, indelibly identified with its owner and, in certain quarters, generated its share of controversy – perhaps the perfect encapsulation of the Black Badge spirit.”

The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Series was a new chapter for the luxury brand. It reflected on some of the more prominent commissions from clients in the past 117 years, especially this Phantom V.

You could say he started the trend

John Lennon and The Beatles were trendsetters through and through. It seems that same spirit was embodied in the design of his vehicles throughout his life as well. Some of the other cars in his collection include a 1965 Ferrari 330GT, a Mercedes-Benz 230SL W113 from the same year, and a 1956 Austin Princess hearse.

He had many unusual and interesting cars in his life, some of which are still around today. Back in 1985, the psychedelic Rolls-Royce Phantom V sold for $2.2 million at auction. These days, it is on display at the Royal BC Museum in Canada. A live well lived, you could say.

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