1965 VANDEN PLAS Princess 4 Ltr R Sedan

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1965 VANDEN PLAS Princess 4 Ltr R Sedan


One of Britain's most illustrious coachbuilders, chiefly remembered for its sublime vintage Bentleys, the firm of Vanden Plas was acquired by Austin in 1946 and re-invented as a marque in its own right some years later.

From the late 1940s onwards Vanden Plas engaged in bodying top-of-the-line Austins, most notably the A135 Princess Limousine, before marque status arrived for 1960.

However, something less grandiose was required in order for Austin to exploit the potential of the esteemed coachbuilder's brand in the much larger owner-driver market, so from 1960 onwards there was a Vanden Plas-badged version of the Austin A99 Westminster: the Princess 3-Litre.

Mechanically identical to the Austin A99 and Wolseley 6/99, incomplete cars destined for the Vanden Plas treatment would be despatched from the Cowley factory in Oxford to the coachbuilder's works in Kingsbury, North London, where they were finished to the highest standards, gaining walnut veneer embellishments, special instruments, sumptuous leather trim and extra sound deadening insulation.

When the Austin A99 was upgraded to A110 specification in 1961, gaining a longer wheelbase and more power, the Princess followed suit, becoming the 'MkII'.

Over 50% more expensive than its 3-litre predecessor, the Vanden Plas justified its price and its rather grand demeanour on the grounds of its parentage – it was the offspring of a somewhat unlikely liaison between BMC and Rolls-Royce.

The Princess R was offered with the aluminium six-cylinder Rolls-Royce FB60 engine: a short-stroke 3,909cc variant of that used in the Silver Cloud.

Extensive revisions were made to accommodate the Rolls-Royce engine. The new model, which could cruise happily at 90mph with enough left over to get it to a top speed of 112mph, was most enthusiastically received.

Sadly, after the initial enthusiasm wore off, sales slowed to a trickle and only 6,555 cars had been built when the model was withdrawn in 1968.

The Vehicle

This motor car is being sold as part of an overseas collection. It has been imported under the Bonhams temporary admission customs bond and is therefore subject to the lower rate 5% import tax if the car is to remain in the UK & purchased by a private individual. The 5% is calculated on the final selling price. For example, if the car sells for £8,000, then £400 is added, making the total amount payable of £8,400. A company buying the car will pay duty plus VAT as well as VAT on the hammer.

The winning bidder will receive a receipt for the final hammer value, and proof that HMRC fees are paid. If the car is subsequently exported abroad within 30 days then these fees are refundable.

Lastly, there will be a nominal administration fee of £250 for processing the NOVA application, and payable direct to the shipping company. A completed and processed NOVA will provide you formal proof that all duties & taxes are paid in UK and thus allow you to register the vehicle with the DVLA

In common with the majority of cars in this collection, this vehicle has been on static display for a number of years and there is no history available beyond that displayed in our photography section.

We have not started or driven the car so cannot vouch for its mechanical viability or functionality. It will require recommissioning prior to road use and is sold ‘as seen’.

It is available for view and inspection at our HQ near Abingdon and we will be delighted to show the car to you and/or your appointed engineer.

With the proviso that we haven’t tried to start or drive this car and can therefore only attest to its cosmetic condition, we think this Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R (VIN: VRS36237) is a superbly preserved example of a particularly rare model.

In common with many vehicles from the vendor’s collection, the car comes with very little history and no service records.

We know that the car was first registered new in the UK in 1966.

We know that on the occasion of its 2006 MoT, its mileage was recorded as 40,852.

We know that its last MoT was in November 2016.

We know that, today, the odometer reads 49,196 miles.

We understand that it was bought for the vendor’s collection of static display vehicles on 22.11.16.

And we definitely know that you’ll be waiting a long time to find a better example than this – it really is quite exceptional.

On the Outside

The bodywork is true, the panels are straight, and there are no dinks, dents, creases, folds, nicks or scrapes of any significance to report.

All shut lines and door gaps are consistent and even.

The ‘Carlton Grey’ paintwork looks very good indeed and, aside from a couple of light scratches on the boot and a spot of bubbling on the section behind the front bumper and below the headlights, it is largely devoid of any real flaws.

The chrome work, badging and lights are in fine fettle.

The wheels appear to be in equally impressive condition.

Even the external rubber trim has endured the passage of time with commendable fortitude.

There is a small spot of superficial rust dust on the sill in the driver’s door opening.

On the Inside

The interior condition is nothing short of extraordinary.

It looks pretty much showroom fresh in every meaningful respect and appears to be entirely authentic and original.

The sumptuous red leather upholstery has a pleasant patina but is remarkably untroubled by creasing or other signs of wear.

The carpets and mats look as good as new.

The door cards are fine, as is the headlining.

All fixtures and fittings are present, correct and looking good.

The wood and veneers on the dashboard, door cappings and picnic tables have a richness and lustre to them that would shame the average Sheraton side table.

The instruments, gear selector and steering wheel are very much of their era and are in first-class condition.

We can’t make any claims about the functionality of switches, knobs, levers, toggles, buttons, dials or other electrics as we haven’t started the vehicle.

The boot looks fine. Lifting up the carpets here or elsewhere reveals nothing to worry about, as far as we can see.


Everything we can see underneath looks honest, strong and appears to have plenty of structural integrity.

Clearly, you’ll want to see for yourself.

The engine and engine bay seem to be in the same time-warp condition as the rest of this vehicle.

History Highlights

The car doesn’t come with a service history or any record of work done.

Currently, this car has neither an MoT certificate nor a V5. It must be registered in the country of your choice and you will need to contact the appropriate vehicle licensing agency for instructions on how to do this. Any paperwork shown in the gallery is a facsimile and in no way constitutes any kind of licensing or registration certification.

If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.

What We Think

We haven’t tried to start or drive the car so our understanding of it is somewhat limited.

That said, provided the car’s engine and mechanicals prove to be in proper working order and amenable to recommissioning, we think this could well be one of the very best Princess Rs out there.

It’s hard to imagine a better one, frankly.

We’re confident to offer this car for auction with an estimate of £8,000 - £12,000, plus Bonhams bond payment and £250 NOVA fee.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 49196
  • Chassis Number: VRS36237
  • Gearbox: auto
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Grey
  • Interior: Red Leather
  • Estimated Price: £8,000 - £12,000

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