How John Lennon’s Rolls Royce Limousine Ended Up in This B.C. Museum
This magical mystery car holds a special place in pop culture history.
Photo: Mike Lane
John Lennon’s Rolls Royce Limousine is a Psychedelic, Souped-Up Work of Art
Do you remember where you were on February 9, 1964? I do. I was 16 years old and living in West Vancouver. That evening, as my sister and I lay on the living room floor watching The Ed Sullivan Show, history was made. The Beatles performed live and the five songs they sang were burned into our collective consciousness. They played “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
What we saw on that black-and-white screen changed everything. The long hair, the infectious personalities, the sharp suits, the well-scrubbed faces, the audience of hysterical teenage girls, and the music… Beatlemania, broadcast live, right in our own home.
It was wonderful while it lasted. Now, the Beatles live on through their music—and some memorabilia that they left behind. One such piece of history is John Lennon’s Rolls Royce Phantom V Touring Limousine. Lennon commissioned additions to the 1965 classic such as a bed, custom paintwork and even a record player. The newly decorated yellow car was delivered to Lennon in 1967, just before the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album was released.
The Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria currently owns the iconic car. It was purchased at auction in 1985 for more than two million dollars by Canadian businessman Jim Pattison. He donated the Rolls to the province in 1992. It has been in the museum collection for nearly 30 years, but is usually kept in storage. It was on display in the lobby in 2016, and again for one day only in 2017. In January 2020, it was free for viewing daily for about six weeks in the museum lobby. What a treat!
Check out more surprising treasures you’ll find in Canadian museums.