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The Rolls-Royce Phantom V is a large, ultra-exclusive four-door limousine produced by Rolls-Royce Limited from 1959 to 1968. Based on the Silver Cloud II, it shared a V8 engine and General Motors Hydra-Matic automatic gearbox with that model. Rolls-Royce assembled the cars' chassis and drivetrains with bodies made to standard designs by coachbuilders Park Ward, and James Young, former vendors absorbed by Rolls-Royce.[2]

Rolls-Royce Phantom V
RR Phantom V James Young Sedanca de Ville.jpg
ManufacturerRolls-Royce Ltd
832 produced
AssemblyCrewe, England
(engine and chassis)
DesignerPark Ward for model #980 or James Young for model #2003
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutFR layout
RelatedSilver Cloud II
Engine6,230 cc Rolls-Royce V8
Transmission4-speed automatic
Wheelbase144 in (3,658 mm)[1]
Length238 in (6,045 mm)
Width79 in (2,007 mm)
Height69 in (1,753 mm)
Kerb weight5,600 lb (2,540 kg)
PredecessorPhantom IV
SuccessorPhantom VI

The engine was a 6,230 cc 90-degree V8 with twin SU carburetors, coupled to a 4-speed automatic transmission. The car had massive drum brakes and a wheelbase of 3,683 mm. Four speed automatic transmission and power assisted steering were standard.[2]

A very low gear gave a walking speed which was good for ceremonies.

From 1963 onward the Silver Cloud III's 7% more powerful engine and new front wings incorporating the latter's quad headlamps were fitted.

Park Ward vs James Young modelsEdit

Of the 832 total built between 1959 and 1968, James Young made 217 bodies. Park Ward, owned by Rolls-Royce, made 607 bodies. In 1962, H.J. Mulliner and Park ward were merged by Rolls-Royce.[3] Prior to the merger, eight Phantom Vs had been made by H.J. Mulliner.[4]

James Young example
James Young showing back

John LennonEdit

John Lennon's Phantom V

Beatle John Lennon bought a 1964 Mulliner Park Ward Phantom V, finished in Valentines black. Everything was black except for the radiator, even the wheels. Lennon asked for the radiator to be black as well; but Rolls Royce refused. [5]

Originally the car was customised from Park Ward with black leather upholstery, cocktail cabinet with fine wood trim, writing table, reading lamps, a seven-piece his-and-hers black-hide luggage set, and a Perdio portable television. A refrigeration system was put in the boot and it was one of the first cars in England to have tinted windows. He probably paid £11,000 (nearly £210,000 in today's general inflation value).[6] Lennon didn't know how to drive and didn't get his driving licence until 1965, at twenty-four years of age. He sometimes hired a 6'4 Welsh guardsman named Les Anthony. [5]

In December 1965, Lennon made a seven-page list of changes that cost more than £1900: The back seat could change into a double bed, a Philips Auto-Mignon AG2101 “floating” record player that prevented the needle from jumping, a Radio Telephone and a cassette tape deck were added, while speakers were mounted in the front wheel wells so that occupants could talk outside via microphone.

The car needed a new paint job after Lennon used it in Spain during his filming in Richard Lester’s How I Won the War. Lennon commissioned a custom paint job from private coach makers J.P. Fallon Ltd. in the style of a Romany gypsy wagon (not "psychedelic" as often referenced).[7] Artist Steve Weaver painted the red, orange, green and blue swirls, floral side panels and a Libra on the roof. Lennon was in a 60s mood, and wanted to make a statement to the English establishment. He loved telling a story about an elderly woman who hit the car with her umbrella.[8][5]

To match his later White Album period, Lennon also bought another all-white Phantom V in 1968. In 1977, Lennon donated the yellow Phantom V to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum at the Smithsonian Institution to cover an IRS bill of $250,000. The Cooper-Hewitt sold the car in 1985 for $2,299,000 to a Canadian businessman, and since 1993 it has been in the Royal British Columbia Museum in Canada. [5]

Other notable ownersEdit

Notable Phantom V owners included Queen Elizabeth II and her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Those owned by Elizabeth II were official state cars, adapted for that purpose with a flag staff and illuminated heraldic shield above the windscreen and a glass canopy fixed over the back seat for the better visibility of the Queen. These two cars built in 1960 and 1961 joined the fleet of two earlier Phantom IV's. Having been retired from active service in 2002, both are now on public display: one in the royal motor museum at Sandringham, and the other in the special garage aboard HMY Britannia in Leith, Edinburgh. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother acquired a Rolls-Royce Phantom V Landaulet (registration plate NLT 1) in 1962 which is now used by Charles, Prince of Wales.[9]

The Governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten used a Rolls-Royce Phantom V for ceremonial occasions. It was removed from Hong Kong by the Royal Navy immediately following the handover to China on 1 July 1997.[10]

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, owned a Phantom V. Since his exile, the car has been kept in his royal residence in Tehran and is occasionally shown to the public among the other luxurious cars owned by the Shah, including a unique Rolls-Royce Phantom VI and a Phantom IV.[11]

Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito had a 1960 Rolls-Royce Phantom V in presidential collection for representative purposes.[12] The car is now displayed at the Museum of Yugoslavia, Belgrade.[13] The Republic of the Philippines owns one. The former First Lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos used a 1960 Rolls-Royce Phantom V as her official car[14]

Elton John had a pink 1960 Park Ward. Liberace had a 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V that became a part of his show at the Las Vegas Hilton. It also appeared in the movie Behind the Candelabra[15]

Elvis Presley had a 1963 James Young. It came with few extra options but did have a telephone, Firestone white wall tires, electric windows, air conditioning. The center rear armrest had a writing pad, mirror and clothes brush. An unusual feature was a microphone for the singer. It was originally painted Midnight blue but Elvis had to repaint it a light silver as his mother's chickens kept pecking the paint.[16]

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu bought a 1967 Landaulet but returned it to Rolls Royce upon the disapproval of the Politburo. It was used by Queen Elizabeth II on two state visits.

Rolls-Royce Phantom V
1966 State Landaulette
Elton John's 1960
Nicolae Ceaușescu's 1967 Landaulet


  1. ^ Cardew, Basil (1966). Daily Express Review of the 1966 Motor Show. London: Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd.
  2. ^ a b "Used Car Test: Rolls-Royce Phantom V". Autocar. 134 (nbr 3904): 47–49. 21 January 1971.
  3. ^ Dalton, Lawrence (1975). Coachwork on Rolls-Royce. MBI. ISBN 978-0901564139.
  4. ^ Dalton, Lawrence (1971). Rolls-Royce The Elegance Continues. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-901564-05-4.
  5. ^ a b c d Runtagh, Jordon (July 2017). "John Lennon's Phantom V: The Story of the Psychedelic Beatle-Mobile". The Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  6. ^ Clifford, Steve (November 1999). "Chasing the shadow of John's (in)famous Rolls-Royce Phantom V". Beatlology.
  7. ^ Banks, Nargress (2017). "The Story Behind John Lennon's Psychedelic Sgt. Pepper Rolls-Royce Phantom V". Forbes. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  8. ^ Bramwell, Tony (2006). Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles. ISBN 978-0312330446.
  9. ^ Pigott, Peter (2005). Royal Transport: An Inside Look at The History of British Royal Travel. Dundurn.
  10. ^ "1997: Hong Kong handed over to Chinese control". July 1997. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  11. ^ Farsian, Behzad (7 October 2004). "Shah's car collection is still waiting for the green light". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 16 September 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Tito's limos on the block". 6 February 2003. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2019 – via
  13. ^ "Tito's Rolls fails to find buyer" (July 1993). The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Presidential car museum opens in Quezon City". Philipine News Service. 21 August 2018. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  15. ^ Jones, Jay (April 2016). "Liberace's over-the-top cars go back on display in Las Vegas". Las Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Elvis 1963 Rolls-Royce Phantom V for sale". Ireland's National Public Service Broadcaster. RTE. July 2014. Archived from the original on 24 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.