John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce on display at Royal BC Museum

Jan. 27, 2020 – People carefully wheeled in John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce into the lobby of the Royal BC Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Jan. 27, 2020 – People carefully wheeled in John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce into the lobby of the Royal BC Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff) Jan. 27, 2020 – People carefully wheeled in John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce into the lobby of the Royal BC Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Jan. 27, 2020 – People carefully wheeled in John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce into the lobby of the Royal BC Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Jan. 27, 2020 – People carefully wheeled in John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce into the lobby of the Royal BC Museum. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Jan. 27, 2020 – Al Carter (left) and Tom Munro helped to maintain n John Lennon’s famous Rolls-Royce. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Staff from the Royal BC Museum wore white cotton gloves as they gently manoeuvred a massive, three-tonne vehicle into their lobby.

The 1965 Phantom V Rolls-Royce belonged to none other than John Lennon, making it one of the most popular – and certainly the most expensive – items to ever come into the museum’s collection.

“The car always generates a lot of excitement, enthusiasm and inspiration,” said Paul Ferguson, collections manager for the history division of the RBCM. “For some, apart from the music, this is as close as you can get to John Lennon in British Columbia.”

Lennon ordered the car in 1964, and received it in 1965 as an all-black vehicle. To celebrate The Beatles’ release of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967, he had it custom-painted bright yellow with Romany-inspired designs.

VIDEO: 1,400 classic cars roll into Victoria for Deuce Days

B.C. businessman Jimmy Pattison bought the car in 1985 for more than $2 million, and donated it to the province in 1987, allowing it to make regular visits to the museum ever since.

The paint, while dazzling, has been tricky for museum conservators.

“It’s one of our most challenging items in the collection,” said Kasey Lee, conservator at the RBCM. “It was painted by an artist and not a vehicle detailer using a paint that’s not necessarily going to last in the winter.”

This means staff need to be exceptionally careful with the exterior, avoiding polishing cloths or any contact with the body except on the chrome bumpers. It also means the use of minuscule paint brushes to maintain any details.

ALSO READ: Remains of local mother orca and calf reunited in upcoming exhibit at Royal BC Museum

On the mechanical side, the car needed some loving.

“It was poorly maintained, it sat for a long time and with the fuel from sitting, carburetors were jammed,” said Tom Munro, a mechanic with Coachwerks Restoration. “It needed some electric work and we looked at brakes, but it purrs like a kitten in a creamery now.”

Al Carter, another mechanic with Coachwerks said it was special to be able to work on the car.

“I find it a bit of a thrill… I was in England and I remember the car being done like this, back in the day,” Carter said. When asked if he ever thought he’d work on the car he laughed. “Oh absolutely not. That’s the thrill of it, it’s such an iconic car that you feel a little bit of love for it.”

The Rolls-Royce will be on display for free at the Royal BC Museum at 675 Belleville St. until the end of February.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Arts and EntertainmentcarsRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cottonwood Lake Society announces $15,000 in new funding

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club and Royal Bank of Canada have chipped in

L.V. Rogers Bombers finish second in Osoyoos basketball tournament

The seniors boys team came undone late in the final

LETTER: Gone to pot(holes)

From reader R. Johnson

Nelson’s Bank of Montreal branch re-opens after pipeline sit-in

Wet’suwet’en supporters left the bank over the weekend

Nelson and RDCK both eyeing waste wood to produce energy

Nelson’s five-year-old business plan will resurface at council table this summer

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

Police narrow down timeline in death of woman in West Kootenay

West Kootenay Traffic Services and BC Coroners Service working on the case

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read