Instant Wedding Car Business: 2 Austin Limos

austin-princess-limos

I’ll admit it. I have thought about starting a wedding car business on occasion. I like cake as much as the next guy, but I can’t really say that I enjoy weddings all that much. The prospect of owning a classic Rolls-Royce and getting paid to drive people around in it seems like a good idea to me though. The only problem is that an old Rolls or Bentley is pricey to buy and keep and that could make the barrier to entry a bit high. Well, Barn Finds reader Ian R. just found the answer to a question you never asked. There are two Austin Vanden Plas Princess Limos here on craigslist and they have the look, but at $2,400 for the pair, lack the high price tag.

grey-austin-princess-limo-side

Obviously, this isnt going to be a turnkey operation. Both of these limos are going to require lots of attention before any woman in a white dress is going to want to ride around in them. The seller mentions that one of the cars has had the original engine and transmission swapped out for a 350 Chevy unit. If it was done right, that might not be such a bad thing because it would keep future repair and maintenance costs down. The grafted on RR grill on the grey car makes me think that perhaps it is the V8 conversion victim. I’m also guessing that it has already seen its fair share of confetti and can rattling

jump-seat

I’m optimistically hopeful that the paint on the grey car can be salvaged to keep startup costs down. The red one will probably need a full respray though and although I hate color changes, I think a coat of pearl white could be justified here. This style of car seems to be a common appearance at weddings and they are almost always painted white. The extra expense for the paint should be easily recouped because this car has a jump seat. You could upsell those happy couples by offering to drop off the bride and her bridesmaids before the ceremony! This whole concept of buying these cars to start a business may seem silly, but the wedding industry is a huge one, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone attempts it. So, anyone know where I can purchase a chauffeur’s hat?

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Comments

  1. MikeH

    If you form a wedding car business, you can deduct purchase price and upkeep as business expenses.

  2. Andrew Minney

    Err, actually one is an A135 Princess Vanden Plas not t be confused with Van den Plas) but the other is more likely to be an A110 Sheerline with a “cheeky” Rolls-Royce radiator stuck on.
    The Sheerline really did have those huge Lucas P-100 headlamps and powered by an Austin 6-cylinder truck engine. . A poor man’s RR. Used mainly by funeral companies and lower end limo companies.
    The Princess was the next generation model by Vanden Plas who came about after the demise of Van den Plas (Belgian coachbuilders) of England who were the English arm of the Belgian company and headed by Willy Van den Plas. Long and sad story if you have the time.

    Andrew in England

    Like 1
    • Robert J.

      Very informative post. Duly appreciated by me as I sip my morning cup of tea and ponder projects of this magnitude that I have embarked in and completed. Wisdom pulls the trigger only when there is enough free time available to attend to such a mistress.

  3. DT

    Instant headache

  4. jim s

    because it is $2400 or OBO a PI would be needed to see if there are more then the asking price in parts. these may be low cost entry but would take a lot of time/money to restore. what if they broke down and did not get the wedding party to the wedding on time! still a very nice find

    • Mike_B_SVT

      What if one breaks down? Well, that’s why you have two! “I’m terribly sorry, we’ll have our other limo here in just a few moments. Please have some more complimentary champagne while you wait.”

      Like 1
  5. Dolphin Member

    These were probably the height of semi-affordable luxury in the UK back then, compared to RR & Bentley, but I’d rather have the black ’57 Caddy in the background.

  6. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Looks like the owner is providing ‘Certified Insanity for taking on 2 English project cars at the same time’ paperwork.

  7. Simon

    It was a substantially different vehicle badged and sold here in NZ as an Austin Princess. for a split second i was terrified of the idea of one being used for weddings.

    Like 1
  8. rancho bella

    “instant wedding business”…………….if a married man takes these on,
    I foresee “an instant divorce”

    • Jesse Staff

      Haha, good one Rancho! You are probably right though.

      • Ed

        Jesse, did ya ever sell your cars ? Do u know of anyone with parts ? I have one and may need a few.
        Any help would be appreciated. Thanks and I hope all is well !!

  9. Barry Thomas

    Interesting that Austin, the seller of main stream cars, would have a rather large (for the UK) limo in their stable. I always liked the big Prinesss and still see a white one around Toronto, being used, of course, for wedding duty. This was the high point for the old dowager Priness as it keep getting smaller and less prestigous, finally ending up like the blue one above.
    Barry Thomas’ “Wheel to Wheel” blog

  10. John

    Great opportunity for the guy or gal who has this time and the money to do a complete body-off restoration. These cars can be eye-catching to say the least when done right. As another poster mentioned, if used for a business, much of the process can be used as a business expense on your taxes. For a business, Weddings, High School Graduation’s, Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries, Birthdays, etc can all be used to more then enough pay for these two rides to be restored and used for many years to come.

  11. That Guy

    In the late 1980’s I started a limo service using a 1959 Cadillac Formal Limousine – the factory limo with divider. I painted it screaming hot pink (actually a factory-original Fiat color, believe it or not), outfitted it with a bar, TV, VCR, stereo, and had a lot of fun doing it.

    But I never made any money, and after a year or so reality set in and I closed it down and sold the car.

    In California at the time, there was no such thing as a “wedding car business.” Although weddings, proms, etc. ended up being the bulk of my business, the only legal way to do it was to be a licensed limousine company. That meant incorporating, having a Charter Party Carrier license from the state Public Utilities Commission, and a mandatory $1 million insurance policy ($4000 a year per vehicle, in 1988 dollars). Trying to do an end-run around all this could mean huge fines and seizure of the vehicle, and they weren’t empty threats. A couple of times I arrived at the site of a senior prom or some other event where limos were likely to be in attendance, and PUC inspectors were there checking the documentation of every limo that arrived, and inspecting them to be sure there was no alcohol being made available to minors inside the vehicle.

    My experiences are 25 years old now, and maybe the laws have changed. Maybe other states have different regulations that allow a “wedding car” business, as distinct from a full-on limousine company. But at least back then, doing it right, i.e. legally, was a lot more complicated and expensive than it might seem.

  12. Bill McCoskey

    RE – comment about one being a Sheerline A-125; Nope, they are both A-135 DM4 Vanden Plas Princess limousines, the silver one had the headlights changed to the over sized P-100 Lucas lamps. That maroon version is rather rare in having quite a few options like the electric division window and footrests. The other one is also quite rare in having left (USA) drive, assuming it was not changed over, if it’s the car with the Chevy V8 under the hood. (A common conversion, but the Chevy truck 6 cylinder is a better choice.)
    The things to watch out for are body rot (they are a white ash body with an aluminum skin) around the rear 1/4 window bases, the rear window base, and the center door post. The other hard to fix/find items include the power brake servo unit, wheel cylinders, steering parts, and Cylinder heads, as when they overheat those crack internally.
    I’ve owned over 30 of these workhorses, much more reliable than a Rolls-Royce (have owned those too). I still have one in the garage, the actual vehicle originally owned by the British Government, for exclusive use of the British Royal family. The Queen still owns 2 of these, one is in the private Royal car collection at Sandringham, and the other is on loan to the British motor industry heritage Trust in England.

  13. cliffyc

    As Bill McCoskey states, they are both Vanden Plas limos. Austin A125 Sheelines were shorter wheelbase,more of a drivers car. My grandad had two back in the fifties,one grey and a black one bought later as a parts car. It had a hydraulic jacking system for changing a tyre (I’m in the UK!), tire… ,and they later used the same 4 litre (liter !, sorry) inline six in a Jensen (541 ?, maybe). He stopped driving in the 70’s and we played in the cars as little kids do…..

  14. Bill McCoskey

    Cliffyc is correct, the Sheerlines were a shorter wheelbase 5 passenger saloon. However they did make a limited production of the Sheerline 7-passenger limousine too. All of these cars, thru the final production run in 1968, were equipped with the Girling 4-wheel hydraulic jacking system, operated by a valve & motor/pump assembly. It lifted the entire vehicle up on 4 hydraulic rams until the wheels were off the ground by about 3 to 5 inches! The reason for this was the body; being a long 7-passenger with a wooden body frame covered in aluminum, raising one corner of the car could cause the body to warp, and the doors not open.
    The Sheerline limos are often mistaken (in the USA) for the Princess DM4. And yes, the 6-cylinder Jensen cars used the same basic motor, but with different carburettors. The engine was also used in the Massey Harris farm combine, these were shipped from the USA without motors & the Austin motor installed. This engine is also the basic 4L unit used in the pre-war Austin trucks (lorrys)

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