That’s Barbara Colavito of Yonkers, New York, leaning against John Lennon’s ’65 Rolls-Royce Phantom V touring limousine, which she explains was parked for a short time on 71st Street in Queens, New York, in front of the Beatles’ chauffeur’s home.
“My father lived across the street, and one day my husband, Tony, and I captured some keepsake pictures,” says Barbara. “It certainly caused a lot of conversation.”
When delivered to Lennon in 1965, the Rolls had a black finish; he commissioned the colorful designs for the paint job in ’67. The Beatles used the car frequently from 1966 to ’69, and it’s been reported that a woman in London actually attacked it with her umbrella, shouting, “You swine, how dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce?”
News reports indicate that Lennon and Yoko Ono didn’t ship the car to the United States until 1970, but Barbara still insists that her photo was taken in November ’68.
Seldom used after its heyday, the car was loaned out to the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues and Bob Dylan.
In trouble with the Internal Revenue Service in 1977, Lennon agreed to donate the Rolls to what is now the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York for a $225,000 tax credit. In 1985, the museum auctioned off the car through Sotheby’s. Expected to go for $200,000 to $300,000, the Phantom V brought a stunning $2,299,000 from Jim Pattison for exhibition in his Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum.
In 1987, Pattison presented the Rolls-Royce as a gift to the Canadian province of British Columbia, where it has been displayed in various exhibitions and museums.
Since 1993, its main home has been the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.