With the exceptions of Jan and Dean (well, Dean, anyway, as Jan moved on in 2004), The Cars, Gary Numan, and Sammy Hagar, I find the seeming fascination with and apparent love of automobiles and rock musicians to be somewhat incongruous. Sure, the Futurist Manifesto hailed the automobile as the symbol of something that is more dynamic that those things preserved from the past and would leave them covered in its dust—“We declare that the world’s wonder has been enriched by a fresh beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car with its trunk adorned by great exhaust pipes like snakes with an explosive breath … a roaring car that seems to be driving under shrapnel, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace”—but (1) Marinetti wrote that in 1909, years before Bill Haley saw the light of day in Highland Park, Michigan (which, curiously enough, is where the second Ford Motor factory was located) and (2) there is evidently a deep longing for many rock musicians, both practicing and arthritic, to be entombed in a museum near Lake Erie.
We recently saw that Roger Daltrey is working with Rolls-Royce. And we cited a Rolls that had been owned by John Lennon.
Now we learn of another Lennon automobile, a 1956 Austin Princess Type A135 that will be going on the auction block at the 46th Annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, to be held Jan. 14-22, 2017, which is essentially the auto auction of all auto auctions.
The vehicle was extensively used in the 1972 documentary Imagine.
It is a somewhat bizarre car in that unlike most ordinary Austin Princesses (note: Austin was a British car manufacturer; this is not a reference to some cotillion in the capital of Texas), this one was fitted out by coachbuilder Arthur Mulliner Ltd. of North Hampton (if you were to draw a line like this: \ from Birmingham to London, North Hampton falls in the middle). . .with the body of a hearse.
Mind you, this wasn’t some Lennonian prank or tweak; the vehicle was built as a hearse and operated as one by Ann Bonham & Son mortuary.
Lennon bought the car in 1971, and the people at Barrett Jackson have the papers (including his autograph on a car registration form) to prove it.
Of course, John being John, he didn’t leave well enough alone. Or he was just somewhat more practical, as he retrofitted the vehicle with two rows of airline seats.
There are few mass produced items that are more class-specific than automobiles, so it would seem that they would be derided by, not celebrated and owned by, rock musicians.
Of course, in the case of the 1956 Austin Princess Type A135, we all get to ride in one or its analog, so there is nothing more leveling than that.
Incidentally, if you’re interested in the car, know that there is no reserve on Lot #1380.