God save the King, and his cars! But before we get into his motorised metal, during his official Coronation on 6th May, King Charles III will use not his beloved Aston Martin cars, but traditional horse drawn carriages.
He'll be riding to his Coronation in the newest Royal coach, built in Australia and first used in 2014, the 18ft-long Diamond Jubilee State Coach. The carriage features lighting, electric windows, climate control and of course hydraulic suspension for a comfortable ride.
However, on the way back he'll use the Gold Stage Coach built in 1762 out of wood, and layered in gold leaf while featuring painted panels depicting Roman gods and goddesses. The three cherubs on the roof symbolise England, Scotland and Ireland.
It was first used by King William IV in 1831 and by every newly crowned monarch since. But the ride quality is pretty awful. Queen Victoria complained of its 'distressing oscillation' and the late Queen Elizabeth described the experience of riding in it as 'horrible' after her crowing in 1953. Even King William is said to have described it as like 'being aboard a ship tossing in a rough sea'.
The vehicle has no suspension in the conventional sense, but is instead suspended on leather straps. When these were replaced around a decade and half ago, they were found to be of uneven sizes, which probably made the ride worse!
Official Royal Rides
King Charles will no doubt inherit the late Queen’s newest official formal car, which is actually a 2002 one-off Bentley State Limousine based on the Arnage. Bentley created the unique high-roofed limo and gifted it to the Queen to celebrate 50 years on the throne. As is the tradition with the Royal State Limousines, the bonnet mascot can be swapped out for a solid silver sculpture of St George slaying a dragon, when the monarch is aboard.
Worth over £10m, the car is bullet-proof and armoured, blast-resistant and even has Kevlar-reinforced tyres. It’s powered by a 6.75-litre V8 with 400bhp.
During the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, Charles rode in one of her favoured cars, a 1955 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV State Landaulet. It’s one of several used by the Royal family. Princess Elizabeth first ordered a Phantom IV in 1950, for herself and husband Prince Philip, after being impressed with Rolls-Royce engineering. The car was finished in Edinburgh Green. It was later repainted in the sovereign’s official colour scheme of royal claret and black.
Later the Phantom IV State Landaulet actually became the Royal family’s first official Rolls-Royce as prior to this, Daimlers or Lanchesters were used. Restricted for delivery only to heads of state, The Landaulet was one of only 18 made and features coachwork by Hooper & Co. It is powered by a 5.7-litre in-line 8-cylinder engine. Inside it has dark blue and grey cloth upholstery.
King Charles’ Personal Fleet
His first car was a high-performance MG MGC GT and the King is definitely an automobile enthusiast, specifically a fan of Aston Martins as he has owned several. But before we get into the classics, it’s worth noting he’s also a big electric car proponent and owns a Jaguar I-Pace and an Audi E-Tron SUV. In fact, he appears to favour Audis, having owned several A6 and A8 models.
What we’re really interested in though, are his Aston Martins. And it all starts with what is clearly his favourite, as he still drives it today, a Seychelles blue 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Volante Series II that the late Queen bought him for his 21st birthday in 1970.
Powered by a 4.0-litre six-cylinder motor putting out 282bhp and capable of 148mph, to get to grips with it, the young Prince Charles took high performance driving instructions from no-less than two-time Formula 1 World Champion, Graham Hill (father of 1996 F1 Champion Damon Hill). Demonstrating his sense of humour, Charles also had a fake red ‘eject’ button installed in homage to James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5’s famous gadget!
In a BBC interview covering climate change, he revealed that he had had the DB6 converted to run on wine and cheese! Essentially it is bioethanol produced from supply waste including discarded English white wine and whey (a cheese by-product)
An Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante, similar to the car driven by Timothy Dalton’s James Bond in the first part of The Living Daylights, was the second Aston owned by Charles. This one was also a gift, this time from the late Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa. Charles had it modified on the production line to his own specification, removing the bodykit (front spoiler and side skirts) and flip tail rear spoiler, and having it finished in British Racing Green with a mushroom leather interior and green carpets.
He took delivery of the car in 1987 and kept it for eight years, before it was sold at a Sotheby’s auction, raising over £111,000 for the Prince’s Trust Charity.
Another Aston that King Charles previously owned and regularly used was a 1994 Aston Martin Virage Volante, which he ran for 15 years. It was sold by Bonhams a few years ago for £230,000. Proving his gearhead credentials, Charles actually had the engine modified from 5.2 to 6.3-litres for increased performance.
It’ll be interesting to see if the new King treats himself to a brand-new Aston Martin V12 Vantage with a 5.2-litre Twin Turbo V12 putting out nearly 700bhp and capable of 0-60mph acceleration in just 3.4 seconds. We pretty sure that multiple F1 Champ, Lewis Hamilton, will be happy to give him some tips on getting the best out of it!