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Royal Pair: 1966 Vanden Plas Princesses


Is it a Rolls Royce? No, but it does have a Rolls Royce engine! Many Princesses like these end up with fake Rolls Royce grills due to their similarities and the origin of their large 6-cylinder engines. The one in the picture has escaped this indignity and is currently for sale in Greensboro, North Carolina with the auction being here on eBay. The buy-it-now price is $3,000 for both this car and a parts car, but current bidding is only $865 (reserve not met). The story goes that this one has been sitting in the body shop for four years without being completed, and the seller is now unloading both this one and it’s parts car mate. It was purchased in running condition before being put into the shop and all parts were stored and are included. According to at least one source, only 200 of this long wheel base limousine version were made, so you may have 1/100 th of production! As my wife would say, “Home, James!” Have you got a home for this Princess?


  1. Gazzer

    No Rolls engine here. Just a plain old Austin lump. You got it confused with the Van Dan Plas Princess which is the Austin Westminster based variant.

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    • Randy Forbes

      I concur, on both counts!

      When I worked at Austin-Healey West in San Fancisco during the late 70s, the shop’s owner had one of those Big 4.0 Austin Princesses; four-speed on the column (really gave a Yank’s turn-signal arm a workout) and a lever to raise/lower the driver’s (RH side) window so fast you’d think you could take someone’s arm off!

      Incidentally, that same 4 litre Austin engine was also in the Jensen 541R, backed up by a four-speed floor shift box (I was told it was of David Brown manufacture). On its tall, skinny tires, you could drift the tail around any street corner at a less than brisk 15-20 MPH. I used to describes its handling such that it could fish-tail standing still! ;)

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      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Hey, I’ll defer to both of you! Thanks!

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  2. Wilko

    Very luxurious cars. Used on as a wedding limo at my first wedding.

    Engine is likely an Austin C-series 3 liter similar to that used in the Austin-Healey but with a lame head.

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  3. Gazzer

    I would also note that the Austin Healey 3000 did receive the 4 liter Rolls engine in a widened shell that did not make it into production.

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  4. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Actually at least 2 A-H’s were made with a 4 liter powerplant. One was especially ugly with 4 headlamps, basically two horizontal units on each fender ala early 60’s Corvette.

    Once 1968 arrived the small English makers disappeared due to regulatory issues that were almost impossible to address as a small number manufacturer because they didn’t have sufficient profit.

    Always wondered if SU had had a plan if some of these marques would have survived in the US?

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    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      There is a lot of confusion concerning the Vanden Plas Princess 4 liter engines. The large cars like this DM4 limo used the basic 4 liter Austin pre-war truck engine [assembled using Whitworth hardware]. Cast iron block & head. This engine was [in a smaller capacity] used in the A-H cars, but the engines are different enough that they cannot be interchanged. The 2 big Healey cars had THIS version of the 4 liter 6 cyl motor.

      The Princess 4 liter “R” was equipped with a civilian version of the military Champ engine made by Rolls-Royce. It is an alloy block & head. When Rolls-Royce began the transition from the Silver Cloud to the new unit-body cars & build the Silver Shadow, they decided to have the Bentley made as a smaller car, and entered into an agreement with BMC [British Motor Company] to make the Bentley, with R-R supplying the drive train.

      At the 11th hour R-R decided they couldn’t allow another company to manufacture the Bentley, and negotiated an end to the agreement. As part of the settlement, R-R agreed to supply 4,000 complete “R” series engines to be put into the Princess chassis, and the Princess 4 liter “R” was born. Once the engine supply ran out, BMC stopped building the cars.

      The “R” engines were troublesome from the beginning, and finding one of these cars with an original “R” engine with over 50,000 miles is very unusual.

      I’ve had over 25 of the big DM4 limousines, and several “R” saloons. [As well as numerous Rolls-Royce & Bentley cars.] I still have a large supply of DM4 limo parts should someone need help with their limo, my email is billmccoskey@aol.com

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  5. Dan

    It sold for $1500!

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    • Horse Radish

      Not really.

      Auction pulled, sold offline.

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  6. Grant

    The engine in this car, has nothing whatever to do with Rolls Royce…..Austin had their own 4 litre engine used in trucks (and was tried out in the Austin Healey, but never went into production!). The Rolls engined van den Plas Princess came out much later, and was basically the Farina styled Austin Westminster/ Wolsley 6/110 with slight changes to grill, interior and tail lights.

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  7. RickyM

    I drove past 2 black Princesses in Cricklade, Wilshire, England on Saturday that were being used for wedding cars. They looked stunning in the sunshine !

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