By Liz Dobson
To commemorate the death of Queen Elizabeth II, we are revisiting the vehicles owned by Her Majesty.
Protocol dictates that Queen Elizabeth would be chauffeured wherever she goes but one of the things she enjoyed was driving herself, usually around her estates.
Her love for cars can be traced back to World War II when she was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Services and doubled as a mechanic.
Her NZ$20 million car collection has an eclectic array from the usual suspects of Rolls Royces and Range Rovers to a few you wouldn’t expect.
1953 Land Rover Defender Series 1
The 1953 Land Rover Series 1 was ahead of its time with the design and performance it offered. Queen Elizabeth’s love for the Land Rover is well documented.
The Series 1 was conceived at the end of World War II. The initial vehicle had a 1.6-litre engine and came with a four-speed gearbox. There were improved changes every year with the Series 1, which opened the doors for Land Rover as a company. In 1992 the company claimed that 70 percent of all Series 1s built were still functioning.
1956 Ford Zephyr Estate
The 1956 Ford Zephyr Estate was produced between 1950 and 1972. The initial Ford Zephyr had a superior six-cylinder engine. It wasn’t until 1962 that Ford offered the Zephyr with either a four-cylinder or the six-cylinder engine.
The Zephyr, together with the Executive and the Zodiac, was the largest passenger car in Britain during the 1950s. The Queen owns the upmarket Executive which included the final months of production of the Ford Zephyr Estate.
19621 Vauxhall Cresta Estate
Her Majesty had a fleet of very expensive vehicles but still kept the humble Vauxhall Cresta Estate.
The car was produced between 1954 and 1972 by Vauxhall. The Cresta was sold as an upmarket version and was to replace the Vauxhall Velox. Queen Elizabeth owns the Cresta PS SY, which was produced between 1957 and 1962. The car was inexpensive and was meant to compete with the likes of Buicks and Cadillacs at that time.
1925 Rolls Royce Twenty
This is a rare collectible owned by Queen Elizabeth II. The car was produced by Rolls Royce between 1922 and 1929. It was manufactured alongside the Silver Ghost, which is another rare vehicle owned by Her Majesty.
The Twenty was designed by Sir Henry Royce and was a small car, targeting drivers but a big number ended up being purchased by people with personal chauffeurs.
There were only 2940 units of the Rolls Royce Twenty ever produced.
Land Rover Landaulet
Chances are, you’ve never heard of such a vehicle and that’s because only Her Majesty uses it. Queen Elizabeth first made a public appearance in the vehicle in 2015 at an official function. She wanted a modern landaulet, so Land Rover transformed a Range Rover into one. A landaulet has a car body style where the rear passengers are covered by a convertible top.
It’s timely to remember Queen Elizabeth’s achievements when it comes to vehicles and her power move over King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
It’s well known that she was a mechanic during World War II, serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and she was still driving herself around Balmoral estate until recent years.
But my favourite story about Her Majesty and driving was when Abdullah visited Balmoral in 2003 and she offered him a tour of the estate.
When the cars were brought around and Abdullah got in the front passenger seat, the Queen herself hopped into the driver’s seat.
Women at the time were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and the astute Queen Elizabeth would have known that.
According to British diplomat Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, “As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off.
“His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.”
I’m sure Her Majesty would have smiled when she read the news that in June 2018, the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia was lifted.
Liz Dobson is the founder and chief journalist for http://www.automuse.co.nz