The Windsors, aka the British royal family, are a constant topic of fascination around the world. With Queen Elizabeth II still on the throne after 67 years, she’s the longest reigning monarch in the world. They make an appearance in gossip magazines almost weekly, but let’s forget about all the controversies and scandals for a minute. Here’s something you might not know about the Windsors: They love their cars.
During World War II, then-Princess Elizabeth served in the British Royal Army as a truck mechanic. While she was there, she developed a lifelong love of rugged off-road vehicles. Ever since, one of her pastimes is driving herself around in one of the several manual transmission 4x4s kept at her rural estates. Apparently, that passion runs in the family, here are seven of the most memorable royal rides.
Rolls-Royce Phantom IV
Launched in 1949, the Phantom IV was designed by Rolls-Royce to serve as a state car. Only 17 were built, and they were only sold to heads of state. The first car was delivered to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in July 1950. Originally the car was green, but repainted claret and black, the royal family’s official color scheme once Princess Elizabeth became Queen in 1952. The car is still in official use today and was used in Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s wedding motorcade in 2011.
Aston Martin DB6
For his 21st birthday, Queen Elizabeth gave Prince Charles this blue 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Volante. One of 140 built, Charles’ car was designed to run on ethanol. Nearly 50 years later, the classic Aston is still a prominent member of the royal motor fleet.
Bentley State Limousine
In 2002, Queen Elizabeth was given a pair custom built state limousines. A unique design based on an Arnage R, the limousines were some of the first designs built by Bentley after Volkswagen acquired it from Rolls-Royce. In 2009, the royal family announced the cars would be converted to run on biofuel. The two limousines still see regular service today.
Land Rover Defender
The Defender is reportedly a favorite of the queen’s, as it reminds her of the military trucks she worked on during World War II. Her favorite is rumored to be a black 110 Model from 2002, with a TD5 diesel engine. The Defender left production in 2016, the royals will keep this one for years to come.
For the past few decades, the Windsors have had a close relationship with the Volkswagen Auto Group. Princes William and Harry have been known to drive Audi’s A5. Prince William has owned several A5 Sportbacks, since 2011, while his younger brother, prince Harry drives the hotter two-door S5, with a limited top speed of 174 miles per hour.
Bentley spent years and several billion dollars developing the Bentayga, ushering in a whole new class of ultra-luxury SUV in the process. And the first one off the line was delivered to none other than the Queen. Finished in dark green like all her personal vehicles, the Royal Bentayga resides in Scotland, where she uses it on hunting expeditions.
In 2012, Bentley built 60 Diamond Jubilee Mulsannes to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s ascendancy to the throne. One of those cars ended up in the hands of the queen herself, serving as one of her personal cars. Despite its good looks and opulent interior, it didn’t stay in the royal fleet long. As of April 2016, it was for sale on British Auto Trader for $285,000.
Audi A4 Cabriolet
In late 1992, Princess Diana separated from Prince Charles. While she was starting over, she was given this 1994 A4 Cabriolet by a British Audi dealership. While it was never part of the royal stable, it will forever be linked with them. It sold in July 2017 for $75,000.