Diana, Princess of Wales Ford Escort RS Turbo S1 Sold for: £722,500 @ Silverstone Auctions, results

Diana, Princess of Wales Ford Escort RS Turbo S1 Sold for: £722,500 @ Silverstone Auctions, results

The Classic Sale


Text & Image: Silverstone Auctions

Ordered and specified for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, her last Ford Escort, and offered with just 24,961 miles from a private collection.


DESCRIPTION
Whilst the Royal Mews provided a selection of Rolls-Royces and Daimlers, the late Diana, Princess of Wales far preferred to be at the wheel of her own car, albeit with a detective in the passenger seat, a member of The Royalty Protection Command SO14. Princess Diana was a city girl at heart and nipping to the shops or meeting girlfriends for lunch, at the wheel of her own car, was perhaps seen as a welcome break away from the police outriders flanking an armoured Rolls-Royce, and the attention it drew.


It's said that the Ford Escort 1.6i Cabriolet in Red, that was to be Princess Diana's second Escort, was deemed to be unsuitable by SO14, as the manual canvas roof offered little privacy in a hurry and zero protection. Encouraging the purchase of a stealthier car, Her Royal Highness was insistent on the new Escort Turbo RS, and the Ford PR department suggested making a black RS Turbo the first example of the then current range of all-white cars on sale. The car is believed to be unique as the first and only black RS Turbo Series 1. The Special Vehicle Engineering department was tasked to paint the car and fitted a regular five-slat front grille to assist in the stealth makeover and a secondary rear view mirror for the protection officer with a radio in the glove box, the cable for which is still visible today. Registered on the 23rd August 1985, this RS Turbo Series 1 and its famous driver were to be extensively photographed outside the boutiques of Chelsea and the restaurants of Kensington over the next few years. One press photo shows the future King, HRH Prince William, sat in the back with his mother smiling at the wheel.


It is unknown why this was to be the Princess' last Escort as the RS Turbo Series 2 was launched shortly afterwards and the model was clearly held in high regard by the Princess. Perhaps parallels could be drawn with the RS Turbo's reputation as the People's Sports Car and the honorific of People's Princess bestowed by the British public on Princess Diana. The RS Turbo was never intended to be driven by the future Queen and was inconceivable as transport for the future King William, it remains the most daring choice of class-dividing motor car by any member of the Royal Family since.


Following the car’s return to the Ford Motor Company in May 1988 with some 6,800 miles on the odometer, it was sold internally to Geoff King, the manager of the company’s Government Sales department, for his wife's use. The car was later used as part of a promotional giveaway by Kiss FM in September 1993, and won by a Miss Jones of Essex with a then odometer reading of some 12,000 miles. In 2008, the car caught the eye of the custodian of one of the best Ford RS collections in the country who purchased it from the appropriately named Mr Windsor, who had owned the car since 1st November 1994. Today the car’s low mileage of just 24,961 is naturally matched by its exceptional condition and detailed history file.


The car's history file has been meticulously archived and copy internal memos from the Ford Motor Company confirms the re-plating of the registration number, as is common with ex-Royal cars, when it was returned to Ford in May 1988. Further documentation from the DVLA show the successful re-registration of the car back to C462 FHK in later years. The file contains dozens of MOTs confirming the mileage and the car has a Lifetime Tracker fitted which can be transferred to the new owner, plus a spare key, RS Owners Club documentation, maintenance receipts, aforementioned Ford Motor Company internal memos, newspaper clippings, glossy photographs of Princess Diana using the car and period registration documents.


Notwithstanding its very special provenance, this Escort RS Turbo Series 1 is an outstanding example in its own right, subject to nut and bolt detailing to a Concours standard. Of serious consideration for so many reasons, we welcome any inspection of the car and its history file.

 

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