There’s going to be plenty written about the upcoming coronation this month and many people will be glued to the television to watch the event. What you might not know is there are likely to be a good few classic cars on display apart from the usual golden carriages.
While the pomp and circumstance of the coronation are enough for some, the team at White’s Bodyworks will be keeping an eye open for some memorable vintage vehicles throughout the day. It’s not just the classics in the Royal collection that will be on view but others as a whole bunch of dignitaries are transported back and forth.
Here’s our quick guide to the ones you are most definitely going to see.
There’s no doubt that King Charles III has a particular fondness for classic cars and the day promises to be a huge occasion with plenty of regal celebration on show. When the late Queen had her Platinum Jubilee celebration shortly before she passed away, the royal family’s amazing car collection was on full show.
The coronation takes place at the beginning of May and dignitaries from around the world are expected to attend while others follow the occasion from the comfort of their own homes around the world.
While it’s not a classic car, the Gold State Coach is likely to be the biggest attraction on view as the ceremony begins, transporting the king and queen to Westminster. Dating back to 1760, it’s been part of official royal ceremonies over the years. The actual coronation ceremony hasn’t changed much over the last millennium and the new king and queen will be travelling a well-worn route. Of course, Charles has introduced a few new things to make it more ‘modern’ and is expected to reflect the role of a modern monarchy.
Since the coronation of George IV, the Gold State Coach has been a key component of the lavish coronation ceremonies for every British monarch. This eight-horse carriage is adorned with gilded sculptures and lined with satin and velvet. Commissioned in 1760, its present-day value is estimated to be slightly above £3.5 million.
While the coach has only been used for a few occasions, such as coronations and royal weddings, its age and weight have limited its usage. Despite its ornate design, riding in the coach is not a comfortable experience. Past monarchs, including William IV, George VI, and Victoria I, have all complained about the bumpy ride. During her Diamond Jubilee, 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II was excused from riding in it. The coach has been updated to provide more comfort for those travelling in it and it will play a prominent role in the coronation celebration.
At present, the royal motor pool comprises two Bentleys and three Rolls-Royces, all of which are State Cars. The Bentleys, constructed exclusively for Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002, are custom-built limousines that feature twin-turbocharged 6.75 litre V8 engines, 400 horsepower and other modifications befitting of royalty, such as removable rear windows for unobstructed views.
In addition to the Bentleys, the royal garage houses three real classic Rolls-Royces: a 1950 Phantom IV, a 1978 Phantom VI, and a 1987 Phantom VI. The 1978 Phantom VI transported Charles and The Queen Consort to Buckingham Palace the day after his ascension and Charles has driven the 1950 Phantom IV in recent months.
During Queen Elizabeth's funeral, all five state cars were put into service. All five may be on display again as part of the Coronation Procession for Charles III. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Although it's unlikely that Charles' car collection will be featured in the Coronation Procession, he is known to have a passion for older vehicles. Despite his reputation as an environmental advocate, Charles' collection boasts several vehicles, including an Aston Martin DB6 Volante that has been converted to run on E85 fuel.
While security concerns often require him to travel in a Metropolitan Police-owned Bentley for official engagements, he also owns a superb Jaguar XJ. While it's uncertain which vehicles will make an appearance during the coronation celebrations, new models may be showcased to mark the ascension of a new monarch for the first time in over 70 years.
This is the sort of thing that warms our cockles at White’s Bodyworks. Charles has owned the Aston Martin since 1970 and it is certainly one of his pride and joys. In a recent interview for the BBC, he commented:
“I’ve got electric cars now, but it’s been so difficult. My old Aston Martin, which I’ve had for 51 years, runs on – can you believe this – surplus English white wine, and whey from the cheese process.”
The Rolls Royce Phantoms will probably be the cars that make our team purr the most. This is a classic car in every sense of the word. We’ve had a few Rolls Royce cars in our workshop over the years including this amazing Silver Cloud a few years ago.
We’ve several decades of experience helping to restore, repair and service classic cars of all types. During that time, we’ve gained a solid reputation with vintage vehicle owners across the UK and many people choose us simply because we know what we are doing.
One of the keys to our success is not our skill and technical ability but our passion for classic cars of all types. That’s why an event like the coronation piques our interest so much. We’re often checking out the news feed to see what we can spot. You’ll often find members of our team at local events looking over vintage vehicles of all types and talking to owners.
If you own a classic car and want to partner with a garage that understands what you are looking for, contact the team at White’s Bodyworks today.