In a country like Canada, where staid old white has been the most popular car colour since 2006, nothing quite compares to the kaleidoscope fantasia that adorns John Lennon’s famed Rolls-Royce – which today returned to the Royal BC Museum.
This morning, Royal BC Museum conservators squeezed Lennon’s massive 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Touring Limousine through the front doors into the main lobby, where it will be parked on public display until April 28, 2016.
“With more than seven million artifacts and specimens in the vast collections of the Royal BC Museum, it’s near-impossible to choose the most significant,” said Royal BC Museum CEO Prof. Jack Lohman. “The Lennon Rolls Royce is certainly one of the most iconic items, connecting British Columbians both with Expo ’86, a seminal event for the province, and to the Beatles, who fascinated and entertained the world.”
It was in this Rolls-Royce that The Beatles rode to Buckingham Palace in 1965 to receive medals from the Queen. Back in ’65 it sported its original colour: a matte black (yawn!).
But in 1967, Lennon sent the Rolls to artist Steve Weaver, who designed custom paintwork in a Romany Gypsy style, with elements of the psychedelic era. The car was delivered to Lennon just before the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released.
Mr. Weaver used ordinary but very vulnerable house (latex) paint. The Royal BC Museum monitors the paint condition closely and has done conservation work on the paint over the years.
Jim Pattison donated the vehicle to the Royal BC Museum in 1987 after its display at Expo ‘86 in Vancouver.
The car has been in mechanical operating condition for fifty years. The engine powers the brakes, a necessary feature given its weight: a standard 1964 Phantom V Rolls Royce is 3,000 kilograms. In comparison, a 2016 Smart Fortwo coupé (“Smart car”) weighs only 820 kilograms.
The car has been on display at various Royal BC Museum special events. It has also been exhibited across North America, most recently at exhibits in Montreal and in Vancouver at the 2015 PNE.
The Rolls Royce was selected as one of the Royal BC Museum’s 100 Objects of Interest in 2014.
It will be on display at the Royal BC Museum until April 28, 2016.