British royalty preferred British luxury cars.
Rovers have been a perennial favorite with the queen and for decades, she has been more than partial to Jaguars as well.
Prince Charles adores his ‘good old’ Aston Martin DB6: the birthday present he received from his mother the year he turned 21.
And thus it went…
Until came a ‘People’s Princess’ who eventually bucked the trend as she roamed the streets of London couched snugly behind the wheel of a breathtaking beauty of a German-made vehicle.
Yes, we are talking about Princess Diana and her famous 1994 Audi 80 Cabriolet, often touted as one of the most photographed cars in history. And now you have a chance to include this famous piece of royal history in the stable of your private collections since the car is set to go under hammer on March 28 at the NEC Birmingham Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show 2020, to be held in Birmingham, England.
The Royal Family and its Love of Audis and VWs
Today, the scions of the British Royal Family are no stranger to German cars. In fact, Audis and VWs often appear to be the preferred options for the younger members. Prince Williams, for example, were photographed driving a Volkswagen Golf back in 2003 and he owns a sleek A5 sportback as well. As for Prince Harry, he has been seen driving an Audi S3. And then there is Kate who had reportedly bought a Golf while at the university and who drives an A3 as well.
Of course, the times have changed and with them, the attitudes (make no mistake, however: when it comes to Royal engagements and suchlike solemn occasions, the members are still shepherded around in a Bentley Continental!). But surely we can at least partly attribute this change in preferences to Princess Di’s use of the famous Audi Cabriolet in the summer of 1994.
The princess driving the sleek sedan, often with Prince Harry and Prince William seated at the back—the paparazzi had a field day that summer! In fact, Audi, a division of Volkswagen, had reportedly admitted at that period that the sales of the model had more than doubled after the charismatic princess was seen driving the car around the British capital.
The Car: Quarter of a Century After
As for the history of this particular Audi 80 Cabriolet, the car was gifted to Princess Diana by the Dovercourt Audi dealership of St. Johns Wood. This blue-blooded sedan with a Gomera Pearl finish and white parchment leather interiors was first registered on March 7, 1994.
The princess used the four-seater convertible for a few months and drove roughly 4,000 miles before returning it to the dealership. The car has changed hands a few times since. The next owner after Princess was the political commentator and broadcaster Ian Campbell and the last time it was rolled across the auction block was in 2016.
The model sports a then state-of-the-art 131-HP, 2.3-liter inline-five engine matched with a four-speed automatic transmission. Although more than 25 years old, the model is still in immaculate shape, thanks to the care bestowed on it by all its previous owners. And this right-hand driver has only 22,000 miles on the odometer. The model is expected to fetch between $46,000 and $52,000 at the auction.
And quite apart from the fact that it had been owned by Princess Di, the model merits the status of a collectible by its own right. Barring the Auto Union 1000SP, first unveiled in 1959, the Audi 80 Cabriolet was the first soft-top introduced by the company. Part of the line of Audi 80 Coupé, this heavily engineered model (aimed at matching the structural strength of the 80 Coupé) was first rolled in 1992 and due to popular demand, it stayed in production till 2001 (although Audi had already stopped production of their 80 models back in 1996).
Executive Director, Hillside Imports
Krista Rodriguez is a Portland native working in the automotive industry for the past 18 years. An active member of the community, Krista volunteers within Tigard Tualatin School District and serves as the Treasurer for the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools.