1967 Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R
Super low mileage example; rock solid underneath; ex-Hull collection; recent careful recommissioning; driven 100 miles to the sale
During the 1960s BMC and Rolls-Royce worked on a number of projects involving the possible joint venture of producing a small Rolls-Royce motorcar. The only production car to come from this unusual partnership was the Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R, launched in 1964, the 'R' signifying the Rolls-Royce engine.
This large luxury saloon car incorporated a modified Farina A110 bodyshell (with a unique tail design) and a Rolls-Royce FB60, 3,909cc six cylinder engine. This particular engine was never used in any other passenger vehicle, however it was built to the usual high standard that you would expect of a Rolls engine and gave the car a top speed of 110mph with R-R badging on the rocker cover.
The car's external and internal trim was similar to the earlier 3-Litre cars, with acres of leather and walnut all round, beautifully finished at the Vanden Plas coachworks in Kingsbury, North London, which Austin had acquired in 1946. Production of this unusual car lasted until 1968, with 6,555 built in the four year production run.
This example dates from 1967 and spent its first 32 years living in Jersey. The Passport to Service book shows five stamps to 14,787 in 1978, all bar one from the supplying dealer Cleveland Garage, Grenville Street Depot, Jersey.
It was originally delivered to a Mr J Nicol CMG OBE on 25th August 1967, painted Chalk Blue and was to remain on the island until arriving in the UK in 1999. There are some old Jersey tax discs - interestingly showing the make, tax cost (£27) and the length of the vehicle, presumably drivers paid by the foot (what a good idea!).
On arrival in the UK, the new owner had the car professionally waxoiled which has stood it in good stead. The current owner has wire brushed the underside and reapplied Finnegans underseal and waxoyl and it remains in great shape. He comments that there has been a small amount of welding, with just a bit on the rear of the sills and small patches on the front footwells. He also removed the sagging headlining and sanded the inside of the roof which is now red oxide primed so it will need a new head lining at some point.
The V5C shows four former UK keepers, the car having lived in two large collections during this period. It came into the vendor's hands in 2020 from the JLR/James Hull collection, purchased to satisfy a long-held desire to own one.
As with many cars in large collections, it had not been used for many years and required considerable recommissioning. The vendor has undertaken this and returned the car to rude health, proven by its 100 mile journey to the sale. The work included a new fuel pump, an Andy Fowler rebuild to the water pump, the master cylinder was re-sleeved and the new brake hoses were fitted all round. The rear wheel cylinders were rebuilt, as were the front calipers which had new stainless pistons fitted. The cooling system was completely flushed and the car given a full service - oils, plugs, leads, dizzy cap etc plus a carb overhaul. The car was then sent for its first MOT since 2011 and passed with no advisories. Its current ticket expires in April 2023 although exempt of course and there are plenty of bills on file for work done.
The mileage at the MOT was reading 49,729 miles which we suspect is correct but don't have a continual history to confirm this is so. The chalk blue paintwork carries a nice patina and the bottom half has been resprayed black at some point. There is some minor bubbling on the door bottoms and where the front panel meets the apron, but generally, the car presents very nicely with good chrome and good leather upholstery with no tears. The veneer has crazed but the picnic tables are excellent and most, if not all the original tools are present. There are also two sets of keys, the original owner's handbook and a workshop manual.
Nice, unmolested Princess Rs are very few and far between. This one has those attributes and has been well sorted for reliable use. If one of these quality machines is on your radar, this one is well worth close inspection.
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