Following on from Monday’s article, a reminder that you can see more of the royal car collection during half term week as part of the Queen’s platinum celebrations at the BMM Gaydon. Ann Evans went along to find out more.
The royal household have owned a wide variety of vehicles over the last 70 years. From Rolls-Royces to Aston Martins and from Bentleys to Jaguars. And each of the vehicles have their stories just waiting to be discovered.
Take the vehicles in the Museum’s royal collection, on display as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The 1953 Land Rover Series 1 was the first of the bespoke royal Land Rovers and is known as ‘State IV’. This vehicle was part of a fleet which accompanied the Queen and Prince Philip on a six- month Commonwealth tour soon after the coronation. The fleet covered 50,000 miles over a route from London to New Zealand and Australia and then Ceylon and Africa returning to Europe through Gibraltar. At times where it wasn’t practical to travel by road, the Land Rovers were transported by special air freighters. State IV was retired in 1974.
Known as State II the body of this special 1958 Land Rover Series II was built in the jig shop at Solihull and was intended for royal use – hence the claret paint and the interior trim of luxurious dark blue leather. The vehicle has blue lenses in the front side lamps which indicate the vehicle is part of the royal fleet. The blue lights are switched on when a member of the royal family is on board. State II was the reserve ceremonial vehicle and kept in the transport department at the Land Rover factory, Solihull until needed. Because of this the current mileage is little more than 13,000 miles from new.
In 1971 thoughts turned to replacing the original State Review Land Rover with the recently introduced Range Rover model. So, for the next two years memos, sketches and detailed drawings were sent between Land Rover and the Royal household. State 1 as it became known started life as a regular Range Rover coming off the production line minus its roof, tailgate and side window glass. Other changes were made including foldaway seats and half seats for when the royal party were standing.
This 1971 Rover P5B is the personal property of HM Queen Elizabeth II, but on permanent loan to the BMM Gaydon. The Queen herself used to drive this Arden green Rover with its 2 ½ litre engine. The car was also featured in the 18 May 2003 episode of BBC motoring show, Top Gear.
All this week there are family activities to enjoy. At 1.30pm each day there is a free Family Tour where the children can help Jim and Claire, the ‘royal reporters’ find the next news scoop as they tour around the royal cars. There’s also craft activities between 10am and 2.30pm where youngsters can make a ‘royal’ car to take home. Plus there’s a ‘Road Map’ Family Trail enabling children to explore the rest of the cars in the collection that are linked by name to different destinations around the world.
Further details: www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/whats-on.