Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Jaguar fit for a Princess – and her two sons

TWO classic cars, whose previous owners had strong links with the Sevenoaks area, have been on show at the recent London Classic Car Show at ExCeL London.
A Jaguar XJ-S Cabriolet driven by Diana, Princess of Wales, and a DB18 Drophead Coupe used by Winston Churchill, were among the record number of retro cars on show.

The Jaguar XJ-S Cabriolet driven by Diana Princess of Wales was adapted so-she could fit William and Harry in the back

The one-off 150mph Jaguar was fashioned especially for Princess Diana who was a pupil at the original West Heath School in Sevenoaks.
Dating back to 1983 this famous XJ-SC was one of the most photographed cars of its era and was built to the Princess’ own bespoke specification.
While the other 5,012 cabriolets created in Coventry between 1983 and 1988 were all hedonistic two-seater speedsters, this XJ-SC (reg E763KYX) was fitted with two small rear seats so the young Princes William and Harry could ride along with their mother and her bodyguard.

Princess Diana returned to West Heath School in Sevenoaks in 1987 to open the new sports hall

The Princess was regularly seen driving the vehicle from 1987 to 1991. Then, when the two Princes outgrew their small rear seats, she sold it to the Jaguar Heritage Trust, an educational charity established to preserve the legacy of Jaguar for the nation, in exchange for a contribution to one of her own charitable causes.

Sir Winston Churchill, who lived at Chartwell near Westerham, used the DB18 Drophead Coupe during his political campaigns between 1944 and 1949. It is the only surviving pre-war model of its kind.

As he toured the country, Churchill would sit in the rear addressing packed crowds via a loud speaker system fitted on top of the car’s bonnet.

Churchill’s leadership during the second world war is currently being depicted in the Oscar nominated Darkest Hour movie.

Sir Winston Churchill’s Daimler DB18-Drophead had speakers fitted to the bonnet

And it was this war which prevented more Drophead Coupés from being made. An initial production run of 23 was planned for 1939, but production was soon halted when war broke out and didn’t resume until 1945. Adding to the disruption, only eight of the original cars had been built when Daimler’s factory was destroyed during the Blitz of 1940 and five of those were destroyed during the attack. Today only one of the surviving three DB18s exists: chassis number 49531 – Winston Churchill’s car with its unique Carlton Carriage Company designed drophead coupe body.

It has just been returned to its former splendour having undergone a major £120,000 restoration.

Only a few Daimler DB18 Drophead Coupes were made because production was halted by the second world war


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