John Lennon’s Mercedes-Benz Sold

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh

Despite high expectations (with an early estimate anywhere from US$500K to 3 million), The Beatles’ John Lennon’s pristine 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL “Pagoda” made “only” $225,000 at the end of an on-line auction last Friday.

Delivered new to England, of course in right-hand drive configuration, John Lennon’s 230SL was registered ‘GCP 196C’ there and it was later exported to the United States and registered in California. It was also originally equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission, making this car one of the earlier vehicles from Mercedes-Benz to be so equipped. Handsome in blue over grey upholstery, this 230SL was previously in  long-term museum ownership and came with documentation including a copy of the original UK registration bearing John Lennon’s iconic signature and other notable memorabilia.

The car retained the engine, chassis plate, transmission, and rear differential numbers matching those of the factory Data Card and delivered new in its medium blue exterior color with grey interior, a grey soft top, and factory hardtop. Copies from the original logbook documents list John Winston Lennon, M.B.E. as the vehicle’s owner. The M.B.E. was the Queen’s Honorary Award and it was presented to The Beatles at Buckingham Palace in 1965. The address of 23 Albermarle, London was the mailing address for The Beatles, prior to their relocation to Savile Row under their Apple Records label name.

The Mercedes is believed to have been sold by Lennon first to a private couple in the Newmarket area and then to Mr. Howard Wise. It would then find its way to Peter Jarvis, the noted car dealer in Kent, who spotted the vehicle in a museum display some time ago and recalled selling it to a gentleman in Cocoa Beach, Florida in the mid-1980s. Subsequently, the SL was sold to one Mr. Barnett in California who would later offer the car  in 1999 to a Florida museum owner who auctioned off the car last week.

The Mercedes-Benz itself, one of the very first “extravagant” purchases made by Lennon after gaining initial Beatles fortune, has remained in wonderful running condition, with all the original tools and accessories still intact. With only less than 20,000 kms shown on the clock after more than fifty years, it would appear that Lennon was spending more time on writing unforgettable Beatles tunes than driving the Pagoda himself .  The sacrifice one makes to become a popular culture’s icon…