Thursday, 15 February 2018

A Jaguar fit for a Princess

Today sees the start of this year's London Classic Car Show. Held at the ExCeL London, this grand event features a wide variety of displays, talks, sales stands, and an indoor driving runway, making it a must do for all classic car enthusiasts. 

Memorable highlights at this year's show include a homage to Getaway Cars, curated by actor Phillip Glenister, and The Grand Avenue will play host to a number of Specials – so expect to see the likes of Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ex BTTC car, Lancia Stratos, Jaguar XJ220, Ian Walker Lotus Elan Coupe2, Abarth Porsche, Alfa Romeo Montreal, and many more! However, the jewel in the crown of this year's show might just be a car fit for a Princess ... 

A notable Jaguar XJ-S Cabriolet with royal connections will be one of a record number of stunning retro cars from the halcyon days of motoring appearing at this weekend's show. 

While many of the 700+ wonderful automotive icons on display will have their own incredible histories, few, if any, will have better stories to tell than this totally one-off 150mph Jaguar – a sportscar fashioned especially for Diana, Princess of Wales.

Dating back to 1983, this famous XJ-SC was not only one of the most photographed cars of its era, but it was totally unique, built to the Princess' bespoke specification.

While the other 5012 cabriolets created in Coventry between 1983 and 1988 were all hedonistic two-seater speedsters, this stately XJ-SC (reg E763KYX) was uniquely fitted with two small rear seats, just so the young Princes, William and Harry, could ride along with their mother and her bodyguard. It is generally accepted that the Princess enjoyed driving her custom-made Jag so much that her protection officer was often relegated to the front passenger seat!

Additionally, the V12–powered regal cabriolet features an individually made, and permanently fixed, rear hard top to ensure that the two Princes would not hit their heads on the solid targa roof bar in the event of an accident. 

Also, unlike any other XJS, the once royal roadster is fitted with personalised leather and Harris Tweed seat trims, chosen by Princess Diana. What's more, the exterior bodywork came with four round headlights similar to those seen on the US export model, and was finished in British Racing Green to match the Aston Martin that husband Prince Charles had acquired around the same time. 

The Princess was regularly seen driving this majestic model from 1987 to 1991. Then, when the two Princes outgrew its small rear seats, she sold it to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, an educational charity established to preserve the legacy of Jaguar for the nation, in exchange for a contribution to one of her own charitable causes. 

The following year, Diana replaced the British-made XJ-SC with a German-made Mercedes 500SL – a controversial decision that caused quite a commotion at the time, as no member of the Royal Family had purchased a foreign car in memory. 

"The London Classic Car Show is littered with cars boasting their own remarkable histories," said Bas Bungish, Event Director. "There are F1 single-seaters raced in period by world champions such as Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher and getaway cars involved in staking out The Great Train Robbery. Princess Diana's very own Jaguar is another of these evocative exhibits which will certainly conjure up many fond recollections among our visitors who really appreciate nostalgia. Seeing the two Princes today, it's hard to remember that they were once a pair of little boys strapped into those special passenger seats behind their mother. How time flies!"

If you are heading to this year's show, be sure to let us know what you are looking forward to the most, and have a fantastic time!


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