Sale of the Week

This Vanden Plas limousine is fit for a Queen

by Andrew Newton
8 July 2022 2 min read
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What’s more American than apple pie? A Barrett-Jackson auction, in Las Vegas, over Independence Day weekend, that’s what. This year was Barrett’s highest grossing sale in Sin City to date ($48.2M total), and as usual, trucks, muscle, and restomods ruled the day. V-8s burbling and country music twang filled the air. At such a red, white, and blue bash, our Sale of the Week car this week stuck out like a regiment of redcoats. This 1966 Vanden Plas Princess Limousine was built specially for the Queen of England, and for a visit to the colonies, no less. It sold for $110,000, more than most of the Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs at the same sale. Turns out bringing Grey Poupon to the barbeque isn’t such a bad move.

The story of the car in question goes back to the postwar years, when carmaker Austin bought the illustrious coachbuilder Vanden Plas. Austin then spun out Vanden Plas as its own marque in 1959-60, with badge-engineered small family cars like the Princess 1100 and the Vanden Plas 1500 (a dressed-up Austin Allegro with an embarrassing Jaguar-esque grille). The larger, six-cylinder Vanden Plas Princess model was available in hand-built long wheelbase form for important clients, and this is one of them.

The Crown Agents for Queen Elizabeth II ordered the landaulet (essentially a limousine with a retractable rear section) for her 1966 official trip to Jamaica, her second visit to the island and the first since the Caribbean island gained independence in 1960. Period video shows the car in all-black, with a waving Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh standing up in back.

After the visit, the the Queen went home but the Princess stayed in Jamaica, used by Governor Sir Clifford Campbell (the Queen’s appointed representative on the island) as an official state limousine. It was later restored, although it is unclear when, where, or by whom. With a division window and a massive rear passenger area with more wood than Sherwood Forest, it’s as lavish as a coachbuilt Rolls limo, albeit with a more obscure badge.

Like any wealthy family, the royals have been through a lot of different cars over the years, and ex-royal automobiles aren’t an irregular sight at auction, especially in Britain. What is irregular is the pricing: there’s typically a premium for a House of Windsor connection, but applying that premium isn’t an exact science.

The Queen’s personal-use Daimler Super V8 LWB sold two years ago for £45,360, a surprisingly low sum. An ex-royal family 2013 Range Rover also sold for a not-very-high £50,625 (about $72,000 at the time) last year. Princess Diana’s 1994 Audi Cabriolet (images of which were splashed across many a 1990s tabloid) brought £54,000 (about $72,000 at the time) in 2016. High for a ’90s Audi, but not crazy. The biggest recent royal sale was Queen Elizabeth’s 1955 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV State Landaulette, which sold for £800,000 (about $1M at the time) in 2018.

This Vanden Plas Princess, then, falls on the higher end of the royal car spectrum but is far from a record breaker. Although it’s a rare restored coachbuilt limousine, a Vanden Plas Princess isn’t typically a $100,000 automobile. We may have been celebrating that time we kicked out the monarchy, but at least two bidders were leaping at the chance to get into the Queen’s car last weekend in Vegas.

See our full coverage of Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction here.

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