When it comes to classic cars, it’s fair to say the royal family aren’t strangers to driving some of the most iconic vehicles. When they are not being chauffeured around in stretched limos for royal engagements, they can be spotted in a variety of classics, from a Jaguar E-Type to an Austin Mini Metro. The Classic Car Finance Team at Cambridge & Counties Bank, provide a glimpse into the array of classics that have been owned and driven by members of the Royal Family, past and present.
Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
Arguably one of the most special Rolls-Royce models to be made, the Royal Phantom was built in the early 1950s exclusively for royalty and heads of state. It came with a unique 6.3 litre, straight eight engine and various bespoke fittings. For instance, Princess Margaret’s Phantom IV was customised with an onboard Scotch whisky cabinet for passengers, and an adjustable driver’s seat, just in case the Princess felt like driving it herself.
This proved a popular car at Buckingham Palace with both Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret taking a ride, as did the Duke of Gloucester and the Duchess of Kent. Other regal owners have included King Faisal II of Iraq, the Prince Regent of Iraq, the Emir of Kuwait, and General Franco.
Aston Martin DB6
Bought for him by his parents on his 21st birthday, Prince Charles’ Aston Martin DB6 has proved a family favourite and is still driven by him to this day. Around ten years ago, the Duke of Cornwall had the grand tourer converted to run on biofuel in an effort to help to control global warming by cutting the emissions of CO2, and then again more recently to run on wine waste and whey.
This treasured vehicle also carried Prince William and Kate on their wedding day!
The E-Type is the perfect combination of luxury and reliable performance, so it is understandable why Prince Harry and Meghan decided to ride in one shortly after they tied the knot in 2018.
This 1968 convertible classic has a curvaceous and vintage style body which was once described as “the most beautiful car in the world” by none other than Enzo Ferrari himself.
It was originally built with an XK engine however has since been transformed into an electric powered vehicle, making it also an environmentally friendly option.
Shortly after its royal appearance, carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover announced that the very model that Harry and Meghan drove (E-Type Concept Zero) would be going into full production.
Austin Mini Metro
The Austin Mini Metro was produced by British Leyland and rose to fame closely after it was linked with Prince Charles and Princess Diana back in the early 80s. The Metro had a special place in Diana’s heart as it was her first ever car when she was just 19 years old. The Metro mirrored Diana’s humble and practical persona, with its reliable hatchback, good fuel consumption and spacious interior.
Diana’s Metro was rumoured to be bought for her by Charles whilst they were dating, and it is now known as the ‘courting car’ for this exact reason. This exact car was sold at auction recently for around £6,000 and now resides at Coventry Transport Museum.
Aston Martin Vantage Volante Prince of Wales (PoW)
This was a stunning follow up car to the Prince of Wales’ DB6 of some 25 years earlier. The Prince of Wales wanted all the power of the Vantage without the “aggressive appearance of the standard vantage”. The car was a gift of the Emir of Bahrain. Like previous cars in this list, once the car was made public other well-heeled customers wanted their very own “POW” version, and as such Aston Martin went on to produce 22 in total, all are RHD and today it remains the most valuable Aston V8 of the era. It remains the only Aston Martin to have ever been named after a member of the Royal Household.
Bentley State Limousine
The absolute pinnacle of luxury cars, the Bentley State Limousine is an official state car made exclusively for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Only two of this exact model were built, for the occasion of the Queen’s Jubilee in 2002, both of which are in the Royal Mews.
Used mostly for official engagements, the vehicle is 2.7 ft longer than a standard Bentley and has a twin-turbocharged, 6.75 litre engine that reaches a maximum speed of 130mph. In January 2009, both models were converted to run on biofuel, making them a smoother and more environmentally friendly ride. The two limousines are said to be valued at around £10 million each.
The Royal family have driven and collected an array of classic cars over the years, setting the bar high for descendants to come. Whether it is about style, speed or practicality, it is clear that the crème de la crème of classic cars are always saved for the monarchy, with the majority of them now extremely rare, or even impossible to get hold of.