Tuesday, 1 June 2021


At the musician’s request, artist Stephen Weaver had painted the once refined vehicle into a nonconformist, four-wheeled, rolling representation of Summer of Love hip.


“That’s when the car started taking on a life of its own,” said Lorne Hammond, history curator at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, and the current home of the legendary vehicle.

John bought his distinctive car (before he even has a driver’s license) on the advice of his business manager, who warned the members of the band they needed to start spending money, said Hammond.

“The accountant pointed out that they had done very well, but they would be paying 90 per cent tax,” he said. “They were all ordered to go out and buy houses and cars on very short notice, because, otherwise, it all goes to the tax man.”

John began with the cash purchase of the car, which was tricked out with all the usual accessories and elegant touches – a Valentine Black finish and walnut trim – you would expect from a Royce. Then, there were the unusual add-ons: a writing desk, a radio-telephone, a double bed, a Philips Auto-Mignon AG2101 “floating” record player and a Perdio portable television.

And, as a final touch, the Royce received a new paint job to coincided w
ith the release of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album in 1967. Inspired by the spiritual books that bandmate George Harrison was reading, John paid Weaver to really make it a one-of-a-kind limo. Using cellulose-based house paint, the artist laid down a base coat—a shade the Daily Mail called “shrieking yellow”—and decorated the car with whimsical flower-power vines, colorful art nouveau swirls and Lennon’s astrological sign, Libra, on the roof.

John managed to keep his car on the road, despite the concerns of the police that its wild colours would distract other drivers. He once crammed nine people in the back to shuttle them to the Sgt. Pepper’s release party at manager Brian Epstein’s new country home and often gave lifts to his famous friends, inclduing members of The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

Eventually the limo, which is now valued at nearly $7 million, made its way from England to New York’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design before being parked at its current home at the Royal B.C. Museum.


Canadian businessman Jim Pattison paid a record-setting (at the time) $2.3 million for the car at auction, displaying the limo at his Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums before donating it to the province of British Columbia in 1986.
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