A car fit for royalty. Or maybe even a caravan-towing dictator.
The first owner on this 1979 Land Rover's logbook is the Ministry of Defence, but it was commissioned for royalty, and by that I mean top of the shop regalness - the Queen herself.
Despite being seen largely in Rolls-Royces and Bentley limousines (with the odd Daimler DS420 interloper on the side), Ma'am is rather partial to Land Rovers for personal use. She has apparently had a string of Solihull's finest, including a black 2001 model, with the 4.2 litre V8 and a radio that was hot-linked to the Home Office (they have a great Northern Soul show on Saturday night, so I'm told) that she donated to the Heritage Motor Centre with a mere 43,000 miles on the odometer, barely broken in for an LR. And this 1978 Royal Review State V Series III that was specially built for her, has only done 1,892 miles, or just over 55 miles a year. The car was consigned to the sale by the MOD, who had recently been granted royal permission to sell it. It was auctioned at Brooklands on November 24 for an impressive £28,380 - above its £18,000 estimate but still a damn good price given it's history.
This vehicle is certainly fitted out for royalty, with a ‘traffic light' system which is fitted in the rear passenger area. It works by allowing the monarch of choice to signal to the driver what to do, whether to stop, start or even just slow down (rolling burnouts were not an option). This is of course, a far more discreet way of controlling your driver than a quiet “ahem” and a velvet glove politely tapping his shoulder; heaven help if HRH should have to stick two fingers in her mouth and whistle to get his attention.
Mechanically, it's regular Series III Land Rover; produced between 1971-1985, this was the first Land Rover model to feature synchromesh on all forward gears and had the modest but robust 2.25 litre engine that could trace it's roots back to the late 50's and was also used in the P4-shape Rover 80.
The Queen may not have seen much action on AWDC events with it, but this SIII has the royal seal of approval. And now someone out there is hopefully being driven down their local high street playing the part of monarch, or indeed oligarch, and having the time of their life.
The instrument cluster has been resited to in front of the driver from it's usual central location. But Landie fans knew that anyway.