John Lennon's psychedelic limousine on display
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, January 11, 2011 2:38PM PST
A psychedelic car once owned by John Lennon that was attacked for being disrespectful to England is now on display for a limited time at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.
Staff had to take the front doors off the building to get the massive six-ton yellow Rolls Royce Phantom V limousine vehicle inside.
The museum, which acquired the vehicle as part of its permanent collection in 1987, says it can't keep the car on display all-year round because of crowds and its large size so it is only displayed for a short time each winter.
The Beatles singer purchased what was then a black Rolls Royce in 1965, the same year he received his driving permit. The vehicle was custom-made with a rear seat that converts into a double bed and also has a telephone, portable refrigerator, Sony television and custom sound system.
The car was painted yellow two years later. A Dutch gypsy artist friend of Lennon's used latex house paint to apply the flower-power design, complete with swirling vines and spiral hubcap covers.
The unique finishing wasn't loved by everyone. An elderly woman ambushed the car with her umbrella in the streets of London and called Lennon a swine for desecrating what was then the most expensive and respected car in the United Kingdom.
Lennon and Yoko Ono had the car shipped to the United States in 1970. They rarely used it but often lent it out for special occasions to famous rock bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues and Bob Dylan.
The car sat in storage for several years until the couple bartered it away to mend some serious problems with the U.S. taxman in 1977. They donated it to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City in exchange for a $225,000 tax credit.
The museum turned the car over to Sotheby's auction house in 1985 after running into financial trouble paying the hefty insurance premiums to keep the rare car available for public viewing.
B.C. millionaire Jimmy Pattison bought the car that year for almost $2.3 million. It was donated to the Vancouver Island museum after it was displayed as an international attraction at Expo ‘86 in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, Lennon's first-ever car is expected to be sold next month at auction in Britain.
The singer bought the sparkling blue 1965 Ferrari GT Coupe after passing his driving test that year.
He owned the car for less than a year. Auctioneers predict it will fetch up to 170,000 pounds, or about $263,800.
Fans often shell out a tidy sum for mementos of the star. The white wool suit worn by the singer on the Abbey Road album cover was bought by a fan for $46,000 US on New Year's Day.