When your family has sat on the throne for well over a century, you are billionaires. Obviously, you pay no taxes and have all your living expenses paid for, and you tend to have a lot of extra cash to throw around. If you also happen to rule in a country that has some of the most prestigious car companies on the planet, then there is a distinct possibility that much of that money will be invested in luxury cars. Such is the case with England’s House of Windsor. While the Royal Family might or might not be considered motorheads, they definitely have a taste for the finer things in life. And a great appreciation for the classics.
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You would think that a prince of the realm would receive a car just as soon as he could drive but not with the conservative Elizabeth II on the thrown. Prince William had to wait for his 21st birthday before he could stop borrowing cars from the royal stable; the car he received though was worth the wait. A classic 1969 Aston Martin DB6 MK2 Volante capable of 144 mph and boasting 282 hp that was last seen as he and Duchess Kate left for their honeymoon.
One of the largest and most powerful cars of the 1940s and 1950s; the Daimler DE was a favorite of not only the young Queen of England but the heads of state in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Thailand, Monaco, and the Netherlands as well. Legend has it that this is the car that Elizabeth would use to take a petulant Prince Charles for rides in to get him to go to sleep at night. The car came in three models; drop-top coupe, the limousine, and the saloon body style of which the sensible Queen Elizabeth choose the all-weather coupe.
There were only 516 Rolls Phantom Vs produced over nine years from 1959-1968 but the despite the low production numbers the car is still considered one of the most successful designs the company ever produced. The majority of these cars were sold to royalty and heads of state around the world, but two notable exceptions were the set owned by Beatle’s star John Lennon; one in solid white and the Psychedelic Beatle Mobile. The queen retired her V-9 engined example from official duty in 2002, and it now resides in the Royal Museum.
How this particular car came to be in Queen Elisabeth’s personal collection is kind of a mystery. The story goes that president Harry S. Truman had a problem with General Motors and they had refused to produce a new limousine for him, so The White House commissioned ten customized Cosmopolitan limousines from Lincoln. It has been confirmed that the one the Queen owns is one of the Presidential Limos, but no one can find any trace of how it ended up across the pond.
Thought to be one of Britain's Prince Harry’s favorite cars the 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT was one of the fastest cars of its day. One of its most unique features was the fact that it had two distributors and two spark plugs for each cylinder. The lightweight GT was capable of reaching 151 mph making it the fastest road legal production car of its time and an outstanding performer on the track.
If you are a commoner like Meghan Markle and you hook yourself a prince, then it should come as no surprise that you want the full royal treatment on your wedding day. Apparently for Meghan that included having this 1950’s Rolls-Royce brought out of retirement and refurbished just to take her the few blocks to the chapel. Heaven forbid the future Duchess of Sussex should ride in a common limousine when she could go complete Greta Garbo for the occasion.
It can be rough growing up as an only child but then again if you’re the only son of a reigning queen it might have a few benefits. In 1955 Prince Charles wanted a go-cart for his birthday, but of course, no regular Briggs & Stratton model would do for the then future King of England. Instead his mother, The Queen, apparently commissioned the 1955 Imperial Midget Racer for the lad. We say apparently commissioned because the car is one of a kind and no records of its construction are to be found.
Thought to be both the oldest and most valuable car in the royal collection The last 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost that went up for public auction brought more than $7 million back in 2012. The Rolls-Royce Company itself terms this particular car as the greatest ever produced and one still owned by the company has of 570,000 miles on it without ever having needed a major repair. Rumor has it that the insurance premium on the Queen’s car runs around $35 million a year but with less than half dozen of the irreplaceable cars known to still exist that really isn’t a huge surprise.
While Meghan may have had to pitch a hissy to get to use a vintage Rolls-Royce for her wedding, her father-in-law had no such worries. Prince Charles is a well-known car collector with a particular affinity for the brands produced in his home country. It is believed that he personally owns 10 or more Rolls including a 1950 Rolls Royce Royal Phantom IV that he has a special affection for since it was gifted to him by his father Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
You say you have checked the Landrover website and no such car exists, wrong; when you are The Queen, people deliver. It is no secret that Elizabeth has a soft spot for Landrovers and is most often seen driving herself in one when at her country estates. She asked the company to produce a special hybrid landaulet for her to use when making public appearances, and they created this one of a kind beauty just for her.
This may sound like a joke setup from an Austin Powers movie but believe it or not, there is a 1968 E-Type Jaguar Electric car. If you watched the royal wedding, then you probably saw the powder blue vintage Jag that the couple took from the wedding to their reception at Frogmore House. The company electrified the car that Enzo Ferrari once called “the most beautiful car in the world” and renamed it the Concept Zero, a zero-emissions version that actually outperforms the original in every way you can imagine.
Perhaps the cheapest cars in the royal family’s collection are several Landrover Defenders. The Queen has a great love for these cars because she feels the exemplify everything great about Great Britain. There is at least one at each of the royal estates and are the cars she most often chooses to use when driving herself. With a top speed of 70 mph, they are no speed demon but will take just about anywhere you might care to go and bring you safely home again.
Most outside of Britain will have no recollection of Rover Sedans, but they were once considered the third most prestigious car company in England. Their 3.5-liter V8 engine produced 160 horsepower, and they were highly favored by government officials including Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, and James Callaghan. The Queen once owned two examples of the car but donated one to a museum and retained the older but smoother riding 1961 model for her personal use.
If you want proof that The Queen may be the worlds highest ranking and most elegant gearhead, then look no further than the 1972 Citrëon SM Opera that resides in her collection. Even though it was named Motor Trends Car of the Year in 1972, few people even know it exists. Just a few of the more distinguishing things about this car are the fully skirted rear ties that make it look like a three-wheeler when sitting still and the hydropneumatic suspension that raises and lowers the car automatically depending on driving conditions.
According to Queen Elizabeth II herself, the 1992 Daimler DS420 is her unofficial state car despite being close to 30 years old. Designed at the behest of Sir John Egan, the head of Jaguar in 1984, the "Daimler limousine" is a combination of luxury transportation, board room, and rolling command center. Just a few of the amenities that are included in its layout are a desk, cocktail cabinet, a TV, and a computer with satellite internet.