John Lennon's Gypsy Caravan

John Lennon's Gypsy Sgt. Pepper's Caravan is of the Burton design and is often called the Showman, but Burton is preferable as it differentiates it from the heavy coach-like showman’s wagons pulled bt several horses or an engine – ‘Showman Specials’, not classifiable as Gypsy caravans.
Orton and Spooner at Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, were especially noted for it, and excellent ones were built by Howcroft or Hartlepool, Durham, Watts or Bridgewater, Somerset, and others. It is straight-sided but with wheels under the body, which projects over them, affording maximum floor space. The walls may be either paneled or of rib-and-matchboard construction, like the Reading, but they never slope out more than two inches. The roof, which always has gutters and a skylight, sometimes of a Pullman kind, has a flatter arch than that of the Reading. The most ornate wagons are paneled front, back and sides, with elaborately carved oak plaques fixed to each panel.
Though sometimes Gypsy-owned, this type was the one most favored by traveling showmen; unlike the Gypsies they kept to the high-roads, did not need high wheels to cross fords, and preferred the greater floor space.

Design for John Lennon's Rolls Royce, based on Gypsy Caravan

A small article in 'The Sun' newspaper, 25th May 1967, reported that John Lennon was to take delivery of his newly-painted Rolls-Royce that day. It could not have looked more different, with its sober, black finish being replaced by a new livery of bright yellow decorated overall with Romany-inspired floral motifs. John had taken the car with him to Spain and Germany whilst filming 'How I Won The War' the previous autumn and the journey had taken its toll on the vehicle. In early April 1967, John asked J.P. Fallon Ltd., a coachbuilder in Chertsey, Surrey, about repainting the car. The exact origin behind the distinctive new finish is unclear but it seems that it was Marijke Koger - part of the collective of artists known as The Fool - who suggested to John that it should be repainted in a similar style to the refurbished gypsy caravan that John had had installed in the garden of his Weybridge home. Fallons commissioned local artist Steve Weaver to design and execute the new finish for the car and Weaver's daughter has confirmed that the item offered here is her father's design, as submitted to John for approval. Over several base coats of yellow Weaver applied his concept and it was completed in about six weeks. The car seemed a perfect statement of its time, being unveiled to the public just days before the Beatles' masterpiece recording of 'Sgt. Pepper' was released on 1st June. The car was eventually shipped to the US, where it was used, albeit infrequently, by John and Yoko after their move to New York. In 1977 the couple donated the car to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and, as part of a fundraising campaign, the Museum auctioned the car in June 1985. The car sold for more than ten times the expected amount, fetching a total of $2,299,000 (£1.7 million), a world record for an item of rock'n'roll memorabilia. Just over a year later it was gifted to the Province of British Columbia and the Royal British Columbia Museum became the custodian of one of the world's most recognisable cars.Background details are sold with this lot, including an issue of the Royal BC Museum's magazine, 'Discovery', February 2006, and copies of Weaver's invoice, 24th May 1967, for work undertaken on the car (£290) and his Application for Registration of Design, 19th June 1967, for the design applied to 'Rolls Royce No. FJB IIIC owned by Mr John Lennon'.

John Lennon's Showman's Caravan (Romani Vardo)

John Lennon's Showman's Trailer or Gypsy Caravan was installed at his house Kenwood, Weybridge Surrey on July 24th 1967. John Lennon, Cynthia and Julian were on holiday in Greece when it arrived from J.P Fallon in Chertsey, Surrey.

John Lennon's Rolls Royce

Beautiful car, isn’t it? This car was manufactured in 1965 by the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited, Crewe, Cheshire. The car was fitted with a limousine body by Mulltner Park Ward and finished in Valentines Black.
When completed, the Phantom V was then delivered to John Lennon on June 3, 1965 with the license plate number being FJB111C. A guarantee was issued to John Lennon on 10 June 1965. The car measured 19 feet long and weighed three tons.
On December 21, 1965, John ordered a Sterno Radio Telephone and the number WEYBRIDGE 46676 assigned to it.
In 1966, the car had the rear seat modified to convert to a double bed. A custom interior/exterior sound system was installed along with a "loud hailer." Other features that John Lennon had installed at this time were: Sony television; telephone and a portable refrigerator. On January 7, the car went in for a mileage check and the odometer had recorded 6,673 miles and on March 28, that same year, the car clocked in at 11,181 miles. Later, on February 4, in 1967, the odometer would record 29,283 miles clocked on the Rolls-Royce. Interestingly enough, John had his chauffeur and car sent over to Spain in 1966, while he was filming "How I Won the War". It was reported that his Rolls-Royce Phantom V was painted with a matt black overall, which included the radiator and chrome trim.
But John eventually became restless with the "matt black overall" on the car and so in April of 1967, he took it upon himself to visit J.P. Fallon Limited, a coachworks company located in Chertsey, Surrey. He had in mind the possibility of having his car painted "psychedelic". This was based on an idea by Marijke Koger ("The Fool" who was a member of Dutch team of gypsy artists). After discussing the idea, J.P. Fallon Limited commissioned Steve Weaver's pattern of scroll and flowers for the Phantom V. The cost for having the work done came in at £2,000 (or about $4,200 Cdn) and the car was painted by the original gypsies who made the gypsy wagon that was in Lennon's garden (see Adam Bloomfield's e-mail below.)
John’s newly painted psychedelic car drew some public outrage when a old woman, in London’s downtown, attacked the car using her umbrella and yelling: "You swine, you swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce." Obviously, the Rolls-Royce is passionately regarded in England as one of the many symbols of British dignity!
The Beatles used the Rolls exclusively in their heyday from 1966 to 1969.
In 1970, John Lennon and Yoko Ono had the Phantom V shipped to the United States. The car was loaned out to several rock stars such as the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues, and Bob Dylan. When the car was available, the Lennon’s seldom used it and so consideration was given to sell it to an American buyer -- but a deal never materialized. As a result, the car was put into storage in New York City.
Then in December, 1977, John and Yoko had serious problems with the United States Internal Revenue. The couple arranged to have a deal worked out where they would donate the car to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City, a part of the Smithsonian Institute, for a $225,000 tax credit.
From October 3, 1978 to January 7, 1979, the car was put on public display at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum and then returned to storage at Silver Hill, Maryland. There, the car would remain in storage and kept from public viewing for a while. The reason for this was because the museum could not afford the insurance coverage for public viewing on a full-time basis.
On June 29, 1985, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum decided to auction the car off through Sotheby’s. Before the auction began, The Rolls-Royce Phantom V was estimated by Sotheby's to fetch between $200,000 to $300,000 (U.S.). When the car was sold, it pulled in a surprising $2,299,000 (U.S.) and was purchased by Mr. Jim Pattison’s Ripley International Inc., of South Carolina for exhibition at Ripley’s "Believe It Or Not" museum. The purchase of the Phantom V through Sotheby’s resulted it being listed as the most expensive car in the world and installed with the South Carolina license plates LENNON.
The Phantom V was then loaned to Expo ‘86 in Vancouver (Chairman: Mr. Jim Pattison) for exhibition. The American title was transferred from Ripley International Inc. to Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., in Canada (Mr. Jim Pattison is a well-known British Columbia business man.)
In 1987, Mr. Pattison presented the car as a gift to Her Majesty in Right of the Province of British Columbia and displayed in the Transportation Museum of British Columbia at Cloverdale (near Vancouver).
Then, in 1993, the car was transferred from the Transportation Museum and sent to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. Here the car would be kept for secure storage, displayed only for fund-raising and occasional use. The car was serviced and maintained by Bristol Motors of Victoria.
In order to protect the paint work on John Lennon's famous Rolls-Royce Phantom V, the Royal Royal British Columbia Museum requested that the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) do a paint analysis on the car. Here are the test results as reported from the CCI:
"Samples were mounted as cross sections to determine the structure of the paint layers. Paint chips were also analysed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray microanalysis, and polarized light microscopy. The analysis revealed that both cellulose nitrate and an oil-modified alkyd resin media had been used and that the surface of the paint had been coated with an oil-modified alkyd resin varnish. A colourful array of pigments was identified, including chrome yellow, titanium white, ultramarine blue, and toluidine red.
"Based on the materials identified, cleaning and waxing the car was recommended; the analysis showed there was nothing in the paint that would be harmed by water or by the application of a protective wax coating. To minimize damage to the varnish and painted surface, it was also recommended that the car not be exposed to direct sunlight for long periods as this could cause deterioration of both the cellulose nitrate and the alkyd resin."
However, over the years the car has had some paint cracking on the original top coat. Restoration work was applied. Click on this link to see the before and after results:

From 9 March 1996 to 15 September 1996, John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce Phantom V was displayed at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, with as passenger a sculpture of John by Joanne Sullivan.
"During the making of Sergeant Pepper John decided to have the Rolls-Royce painted. Colour and design were of the utmost priority and he employed a firm of barge and caravan designers to do it for him. The idea came to him when he bought an old gypsy caravan for the garden."-- Cynthia Lennon, from her book, "A Twist of Lennon", page 142.
- Researched by John Whelan, February 13, 2000
Additional material, April 28, 2001, from promotional flyers issued by the Ottawa Museum of Science and Technology in 1996 and with one final update entered to this page on March 24, 2003, culled from the Canadian Conservation Institute at:

John Lennon's Sgt Pepper's Gypsy Caravan

Suit, 1967
Suit of yellow-green satin with orange trimWorn by John LennonDesigned by M. Berman Ltd. for John Lennon for The Beatles' 1967 album cover, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club BandCourtesy of YOKO ONO LENNON
According to an article in the Canadian Conservation Newsletter, the designs were painted by a friend of Lennon's known as "Gypsy Dave". Cynthia Lennon's memoir claims that the work was carried out by "a firm of barge and caravan designers". An article about the car on the Ottawa Beatles site states that the work was carried out by J.P. Fallon Limited, a coachworks company located in Chertsey, Surrey. The site has a newspaper article confirming this. J.P. Fallon commissioned Steve Weaver's pattern of scroll and flowers (who came up with design) for the Phantom V. The idea to make the car psychedelic was based on a suggestion from Marijke Koger, a member of the Fool who told Lennon to "paint the Rolls like the gypsy wagon" that was in his garden.