Queen Elizabeth II: a life in cars

Wikimedia Commons

The Queen owned many cars throughout her life, and we take a look back and celebrate her life with a look at some of her beloved vehicles.

Many of the Queen’s cars were as quintessentially British as the Queen herself, but we want to honour the life of a fellow car lover, who spent over 70 years on the road, and was even a driver and mechanic in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War.

Daimler DB 18 saloon

The then-princess’s first car, gifted to her in 1944 by father King George VI for her 18th birthday, was a Daimler DB 18 saloon. This is the car in which she learned to drive. She never held a formal drivers license, and was the only person in the country allowed to drive without one.

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Daimler DE 27 limousine

Presented to Princess Elizabeth and husband the Duke of Edinburgh in 1948 as a belated wedding present by the RAF and WAAF. It was intended that this would be the car in which the Princess and her husband would serve their formal duties, but the following year the Duke visited the new Rolls-Royce factor in Crewe. His interest later lead to the development of what would become the first Rolls-Royce Phantom IV.

Rolls-Royce Phantoms

When Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952, she inherited four state cars, including a pair of Daimler DE 36 state landaulettes. However, it was decided that the Rolls-Royce Phantom IV limousine would be her no.1 state car. This Phantom remained in regular use for most of the Queen’s life.

Three of the Daimler landaulettes were initially retained as State Cars (the fourth being transferred to the Queen Mother in 1952). However by the end of the decade the decision was made to sell the remaining Daimlers, which were replaced with a 1954 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV in 1959, and two new Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousines in 1960 and 1961.

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Rolls-Royce Phantom IV (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1978, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders marked the Silver Jubilee by presenting the Queen with a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine, which became her no.1 State Car from 1978 to 2002.

Land Rover

Many Land Rovers have been provided for use of the Royal family over the years, including in 1953, when a Series I Land Rover was custom designed with a rear platform for standing passengers. This car was used extensively during the Queen’s six-month Coronation tour of the Commonwealth.

Range Rover

A bespoke Range Rover took the place of the ‘State 1’ Land Rover in 1974, and was replaced again with newer models in 1989 and 1996.

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Bentley

Since 2002, the Queen has usually travelled on State occasions in one of two armoured Bentley State Limousines, the first of which was presented to her to mark her Golden Jubilee.

The State Limousines are 83 centimeters longer than a standard Bentley Arnage, 25.5 centimeters taller, and 6.8 centimeters wider. In January 2009, it was announced that they had both been converted to run on biofuel.

Both Bentley’s remained in service for the Queen up until her death.

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Wikimedia Commons

The 2020s

In the final years of her life, the Queen still enjoyed driving. She was known to drive a dark green Range Rover or Jaguar X-Type estate in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The Queen also moved towards hybrid-electric vehicles, being driven to engagements in Scotland and London in a hybrid-electric Range Rover.

Many of the vehicles previously owned by the Royal family are now stored or on display at various locations across the country, for example at the Coventry Transport Museum or at Sandringham.

American cars

Although the Queen especially loved British cars, she was still known to travel in some classic American vehicles when over in the States, including on her 1959 Royal Tour, when each of the “big three” car manufacturers were given the opportunity to provide a royal limousine.

These three cars were a Continental Mark IV, a Cadillac Custom 1959 Fleetwood limousine, and a Chrysler-Ghia Crown Imperial.

It appears the Queen may have favoured the Lincoln offering, as one the few American cars the Queen ever owned herself was a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan.

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