We don’t talk much about the monarchy here on Motor-Vision; not because we’re a bunch of fizzy, saliva-spewing anarchists, but because there’s rarely any call for it.
However, this weekend marks the Queen’s birthday; not her actual date of birth – that’s on April 21st – but her “official birthday”, which is traditionally held on the second Saturday of June because, quite simply, the weather is usually better for the Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.
Spring 2018 has been a bit of a Royal season, what with Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May, so it got us thinking “what does the Queen drive?”. You may have thought the same thing, so let’s find out what one hoons.
One does not have a licence
First of all, the Queen doesn’t hoon anything because she barely ever drives at all. She doesn’t even need to have a licence after learning to drive during World War II, when she operated a first aid truck for the Women’s Auxillary Territorial Service.
Regardless, she owns a car collection worth an estimated £10 million. A fleet of that value could comprise 1,429 Dacia Sanderos or 91 Audi R8s, but instead, it’s made up of bespoke Bentleys and the most prestigious models Jaguar Land Rover could muster up.
For most of her public engagements and some ceremonial occasions, the Queen is chauffeured in official state cars, built to unique and exclusive specifications. The Queen’s state fleet is made up of three Rolls-Royces, three Daimlers and two Bentleys, based in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.
Perhaps the most interesting of these illustrious one-offs are the Bentleys. These are based on production vehicles, but built specifically to suit Her Majesty’s discerning specifications. They stretch for 6.22 metres, making them almost a metre longer than a standard Bentley Mulsanne – one of the world’s longest production cars. Another key change is the fact that the rear doors are hinged at the back to allow the Queen to stand up straight before stepping out.
Under the bonnet is a monstrous 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, linked to a four-speed automatic gearbox manufactured by General Motors, but the Bentleys are unlikely to ever come close to exploiting their power, rarely exceeding speeds of 9mph on processional occasions. As one would expect, the interior features only the finest materials, laced with a light grey Connolly leather hide, while the rear seats are draped in Hield Lambswool Sateen cloth.
Land Rover Defender
The rest of the time it seems that Queenie is quite partial to the Land Rover Defender – who knew?! Well, that shouldn’t have been a surprise because she’s owned around 30 of them, Royal watchers estimate.
One custom Defender built by Land Rover in 2002 featured the usual Royal extras, such as heated seats, electric windows and a slightly raised suspension to make it easier for the Queen to drive across her estate.
The Defender was used for hunting parties and, apparently, shotgun cartridges were found left in the glovebox when it was auctioned off for £30,240 a few years back. Rather than lambswool upholstery, the interior featured custom green leather, while a grunting 4.2-litre V8 engine provided the power.
2001 Jaguar Daimler V8 Super LWB
Arriving on the ‘Buck House’ fleet in 2001, this Jaguar Daimler V8 Super LWB was the Queen’s preferred personal transportation for the subsequent three years. Rather than be chauffeured, Her Majesty regularly drove it around her Windsor Castle estate and to visit friends and dignitaries.
As usual, this Jaguar Daimler V8 comes with some unique modifications, such as an armrest with a sliding holder designed to hold her specific type of handbag. The cigarette lighters feature a secret button that activates hidden neon lights to allow secret service to identify her and offer extra visibility in the event of a smoke attack.
Meanwhile, in the boot, there’s a radio that can be used to directly contact the Home Office and Downing Street.