Sunday, January 9, 2011

Clues and Contradictions: Where's John Lennon's White Rolls Royce? Part Two

In the second of two parts, guest blogger Eric Roberts continues his summary of the search for the whereabouts of John Lennon's White Rolls Royce (EUC 100C) that has taken much of our time the past few months.


A few days before Christmas just last month, Stephen Tebo kindly furnished the following information about the Phantom V Rolls Royce in his collection of classic cars:

I purchased the car on January 24, 1999 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was lot #694. Hope this helps.

Seeking confirmation, I found an article published in the New York Times' Automobiles section in mid-February 1999 which shed some light on the matter:

An enormous 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousine - with a rare left-hand-drive configuration - brought $115,500, more than twice what these behemoths normally fetch. The car's providence [sic] was extraordinary, however, in that it had a double-Beatle history. John Lennon, the original owner, sold it to Richard Starkey - better known as Ringo Starr.

At the bottom of the page was the following correction:

Correction: February 15, 1999,  Monday A picture caption with the Collecting column on the Automobiles page on Jan. 29, about an auction of cars once owned by celebrities, referred incorrectly to one of two Rolls-Royce limousines associated with the Beatles. The car to the left of the caption was indeed once sold to Ringo Starr by John Lennon, and was sold last month for $115,500. But the one shown beneath the caption, with all four Beatles standing in front of it, was a different car. A former manager of the Beatles, Allen Klein, says he bought that car from John Lennon and still owns it.

Find the complete article about the 1999 car auction here. The picture referred to in the news article correction, of the Rolls with all four Beatles standing in front of it, is shown below.

So where does this bombshell leave us? The suggestion is that Stephen Tebo does indeed own John Lennon's (left-hand drive) white 1965 Phantom V. However . . . EUC 100C was right-hand drive, and appears to be the property of the late Alan Klein, or was in the late-1990s. Below are detailed views of Stephen Tebo's '65 Phantom V. Notice that it is left-hand drive. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Detailed views of Stephen Tebo's '65 Phantom V
Another piece of the puzzle came to light when I found a downloadable clip of EUC 100C on ITN's news archive site (Clip 63 of 65 / Ref:  S17051001 2 65013). The short video is accompanied by an explanatory note which reads as follows:

19.12.1985 - UK: A white Phantom Five Rolls Royce which once belonged to the late rock star, John Lennon, is expected to fetch half a million pounds when it goes on sale at Christie's tonight.

Subsequently, I learned that the bidding failed to meet the reserve price and Lennon's white Rolls Royce was withdrawn from auction. This raises the question: if John & Yoko's Phantom V was captured on television in London in December 1985, what are we to make of the reported sighting of EUC 100C in a New York garage in 1977? (See The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970-2001)

One possible scenario is that when John and Yoko moved to New York in the early-70s, rather than ship EUC 100C over from England and have it converted to left-hand drive, they bought an identical 1965 Rolls Royce already modified for American roads. It may have been this second, left-hand drive Phantom V that was sighted in New York in late-1977 and, in January 1999, purchased by Stephen Tebo.

Then, a few days ago, Sam received an unexpected email from someone claiming to know who the current owner is. Tantalizingly, the message assured Sam that John & Yoko's famous Roller is “alive and well” and “still in England." Perhaps, in the next post, we may be able to reveal the true whereabouts of EUC 100C. In the meantime, we eagerly await further communication.

For a list of previous threads on this topic, click here.


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