A keen driver, King George VI would drive his family himself in this car, hence the sumptuous cloth seating throughout, instead of the usual leather for the chauffeur’s seat. Following the premature death of King George VI in 1952 this car continued in the Royal service of the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth for a further two years before it was released from service.
The car, a Lanchester 32hp Straight-8 Limousine was bought in 1939 by the King, who had been a customer of the Birmingham based company since the 1920s.
A keen, discerning and informed motorist, Prince Albert, Duke of York decided that the products of the Lanchester Motor Company were well suited to his needs and in 1925 bought the first of three Royal Lanchester 40hp cars for private use by himself, his relatively new bride, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, and eventually his daughters Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, who were to make several public appearances with the cars.
Following the merger of Lanchester and Daimler into the BSA empire in 1931 the Prince’s Lanchester loyalty continued, the two young Princesses each driving 10hp Lanchester models, while Prince Albert was to order an 18hp four door sports saloon and later a pair of Lanchester Straight-8 cars, one a limousine and the other a landaulette.
Prince Albert succeeded to the throne following his Brother Edward’s abdication late in 1936. The King’s Lanchester motor cars were subsequently used for private use rather than State occasions and in 1939 two new cars were ordered, the 32hp, 4,624cc Straight-8 Limousine, (this car), and a similar Landaulette.
The longer F-Type chassis provided a perfect platform for the King’s new exquisite, all-aluminum, four-light limousine, crafted by Hooper, Royal Warrant holders. The King himself contributed to the design of the elegantly flowing and pleasing coachwork, so dissimilar to the rather staid State limousines in the Royal Mews.
The Car’s subsequent fate is not fully recorded however in later years it was found complete but neglected in the USA. Returning to its homeland it later joined the Lanchester collection of Chris Clark, Lanchester historian and author of ‘The Lanchester Legacy’. There are few Royal cars of such significance outside the Queen’s own collection.