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By Ben Selby
There probably will never be someone like Queen Elizabeth II. Whether you call yourself a royalist or not, one must admire the incredible sense of duty, commitment and dedication to devoting her entire life to the service of her people. With her passing, many, including myself, felt like they had lost a member of the family.
When most remember Her Late Majesty, we think of this tiny lady dressed in vivid colours smiling and waving, or sharing a good joke with her family or subjects. Usually with a Corgi or two in tow. However, what some may not know about the Queen was her love of cars.
This started back during the Second World War where a young Princess Elizabeth joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, ATS, in 1944. Here the 18-year-old worked as a driver and mechanic. She serviced and maintained all manner of trucks and other service vehicles, much to the amazement of her father King George VI and the Queen Mother.
Despite being chauffer driven for much of her time as Queen, Elizabeth was still more than happy to tootle around Royal locations like Windsor and Balmoral behind the wheel herself. The funniest thing was she never needed a driver’s license as all British drivers’ licenses had her name on them anyway. Plus, I couldn’t imagine any local police officer giving Her Majesty a ticket.
Here are my Top Five Cars as used by Queen Elizabeth II
The Rover P5 was one of her favourite cars to use throughout the sixties and seventies. The Rover P5 is regarded as one of the greatest cars ever to wear the Viking Rover emblem and the Queen owned many examples, from the early 3.0L cars to the 3.5L V8 P5B.
The Queen carried over her registration JGY 280 with each P5 delivered so it is unclear just how many arrived at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s personal use. Her last P5Bs are still around, currently owned by the Gaydon Motor Museum.
1984 Daimler Double Six LWB
The eighties saw the Queen upgrade from her Rover P5 into this Daimler Double Six Long Wheelbase Saloon. The Queen used it primarily for local engagements and low-profile jaunts. She racked up around 12,000 miles in it before it was replaced.
The Daimler kept on with Royal duties however, serving as transport for family members and Royal Security. This particular Double Six was fully loaded with options and even featured a full-length cushion so the Queen’s Corgis could sit comfortably. RM Sotheby’s sold the Royal Daimler at auction in 2019 for the princely sum of 80,500 GDP.
1983 Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon
The Queen and Land Rover went hand in hand. Ever since her father, King George VI, was gifted the 100th Land Rover ever built in 1948, a Landy would always be a recurring presence in her life. From countless Royal Tours abroad to munching up the toughest terrain in Scotland, the Queen loved them.
Her best, in my view, would be her 1983 Defender 110 Station Wagon, registration A444 RYV. Powered by a 3.9L Rover V8 and a specially built manual gearbox for Her Majesty. It also featured additional weather proofing and redesigned door handles to make it easier for the Queen to hop in.
2001 Daimler V8 Super LWB
Another Daimler. This V8 Super LWB was originally meant to drive Her Majesty around, but more often than not, the Queen would often be found at the wheel herself. Under the bonnet sat a 4.0L supercharged V8 which underwent some decent acceleration from the Queen from 2001 to 2004.
With a dark green paint scheme, the Daimler looked the quintessential Queen runabout, but underneath, it had a few optional extras installed.
Aside from a bespoke handbag holder, the Daimler featured buttons in place of the ashtray which activated flashing neon-blue lights and even a radio system for the Queen to make contact with Downing Street. Tony Blair probably got a few phone calls from the Queen via this Daimler.
2002 Bentley State Limousine
In recent years, probably the car most associated with Queen Elizabeth II more than any other. Built to commemorate her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Bentley State Limousine was one of two built for the Queen and the late Prince Philip for official Royal engagements,
Sitting at 80cm longer than the regular Arnage on which it was based, it features broad coach doors which open to 90-degrees and the rear seat was custom made to the Queen’s height.
Powered by the long serving 6.75L V8, the State Limousine is also as tough as nails with a blast-resistant cabin, which can be sealed air-tight in gas attack situations and the bodywork has been specially strengthened. The tyres are also reinforced with Kevlar to aid in a speedy getaway if required.
The Queen used the Bentley right up until her death. It has since been used by King Charles III and Princess Anne.
Vauxhall Cresta Friary Estate
The Vauxhall Cresta may not have been as well-known as her Rovers or Jags, but this Cresta Friary Estate, registration MYT 1, still served as a family wagon for the Queen to ferry a young Prince Charles around to various events. Built between 1957 and 1962, it still resides in the Windsor family collection.
Jaguar X-Type Estate
Trimmed in that iconic dark green, the Queen used this mid-sized Jag as another runabout around Windsor. However, this car gained plenty of attention when the Queen was driving through Windsor Park. Ahead of Her Majesty was young family out on a walk. They must have been blissfully unaware their monarch was directly behind them and eager to get past.
In full view of cameras, the Queen zipped right and overtook the young family with the X-Type partaking in some off-roading in the process. Legend.