A very rarely seen example of the big Austin-based Vanden Plas limousine
Re-imported from the Middle-East, where it formed part of a sizeable collection
Resprayed and restored
Featuring a beautiful retrimmed red leather interior
Vanden Plas started life as a Belgian coachbuilder as far back as 1870. Thanks to a series of unusual twists and turns it became part of the British Motor Corporation conglomerate, via Austin ownership, in 1958. The prestige associated with the marque demanded that what was BMC’s range-topping car, the Austin A135 should henceforth be known as the Vanden Plas Princess Limousine.
Our example started life in the UK being first registered here in April 1966. As so many did, our car started out black which made for a somewhat funereal looking conveyance. An enthusiast of British limousines of this era, based in the Middle East bought the car and shipped it there for a full restoration. Its transformation to stunning gold also happened then, making for an extremely eye-catching and altogether more cheerful looking classis limousine.
The History and Paperwork
First registered in April 1966, two years before production ended
Originally painted black, our car was likely used for civic duties of some sort
Bought by a Middle Eastern gentleman to add to his collection
Shipped to the Middle East where it was fully restored
This work included a full cabin retrim in red leather
The car was also resprayed gold at this juncture
The car was subsequently reimported to the UK in late 2022
Only the current V5 is on hand in terms of paperwork
The car is registered as a Historic Vehicle
As such it is considered exempt from MOT and VED
The cabin of the Vanden Plas is a fascinating interior
Its origins as a car designed for civic duties are quite obvious
The front cabin is fairly compact for the size of car
Seating consists of a full width bench seat finished in red leather
This is arranged into box pleats and a scroll topped backrest aids support
The slab fronted dashboard appears to be wood trimmed
It is understood, however, to be sheet metal painted in a wood effect
A number of original Smiths gauges are set into the dash panel
Various Bakelite knobs are present for supplemental controls
Door cards are leather trimmed and fitted with chromed metal door furniture
A later, retrofitted air conditioning unit is present under the dashboard
The thick woollen carpets are finished in a complimentary burgundy hue
The rear cabin is separated from the front by means of a fixed, glass privacy screen
The rear cabin features a low bench seat with separate folding back rests
Chromed grab handled are fitted to the bulkhead for the occupants of these occasional seats
Behind this is a large and commodious bench seat
This is dissected by a generously sized folding arm rest
Side armrests are built into the side panels also
The same deep burgundy woollen carpets are also present here
Four holders, presumably for umbrellas, are fitted to the bulkhead
The boot is relatively shallow and is fitted with a burgundy carpet mat
A section below the boot floor houses the full-sized spare wheel
The origins of the Vanden Plas Princess hark back to the early 1950’s
This heritage is clear when viewing the conservatively styled exterior
The external wings and part, rear spats give the Princess a very traditional look
The big chrome grill and protruding headlights are very much 1950’s fare
The striking gold paintwork certainly lifts our car to another level
The condition of the bodywork and paintwork looks good overall
Some paint chipping is evident, and the fit of the front doors may require attention
The big steel wheels look appropriate to, and in keeping with the car
The Firestone, white-walled radial type tyres appear to be in decent condition
The chromed hubcaps are centred with a stylised “P” for Princess
Embossed Princess emblem panels are affixed to front and rear bumpers
The brightwork of the car appears to be clear and lustrous
Cabin glass and light lenses appear clear and original throughout
Despite its 1950’s underpinnings the mechanical specification was generous
A 4-litre, straight six engine was fitted, originally rated at around 120bhp
Despite the car’s bulk this was reported to be good for 100mph
Power was delivered via a manual gearbox with column mounted selector
Brakes, although drums all round, were hydraulically activated
The owner reports that two new batteries have been recently fitted
The under-bonnet presentation is good overall
There is evidence here of a number of recently fitted parts
Likewise, the underside of the car presents very well too
A number of new looking parts are also evident here
The car appears well undersealed and protected
No obvious issues are noted from the photographic package
If unique looking cars are your weakness, then there is much to interest you here! On viewing this car, only the best-informed British car enthusiast is likely to correctly identify the car as a Vanden Plas Princess. This example represented BMC’s top of the range offering for many a year and will have been at the centre of many a mayoral, or even royal, parade.
This example certainly stands out even more than usual in its striking gold colourway and the interior offers space for six in the rear cabin alone should that be required. The condition overall is excellent throughout too, with some potential for further improvement if required. A car with a lot of potential uses open to it and a highly individual, perhaps unique, example of 1960’s British “limousine-chic” at its best.
Notice to bidders
This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*
UK-registered cars and motorbikes on Car & Classic are run through an online HPI check. On the HPI report, this vehicle shows no insurance database markers for damage or theft. It is currently not covered by a finance agreement.
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NO RESERVE - 1966 Vanden Plas Princess Limousine
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