Our 1956 Austen Princess Vanden Plas Limousine is perfect for weddings, photoshoots and special events. We have owned and loved the vehicle since the mid-1980s. Our Princess has had a long history. It was originally the Krugersdorp mayor’s car and had the historic black and white TK 1 license plate. We have recreated this license plate and use it today for weddings and photo-shoots.
As a limousine the doors open the right way – from the front. This allows the bride to exit the car easily, perfect for capturing the moment on camera. The large interior space allows for even the largest dress without folding or creasing it on your special day.
The car was used by Pretoria Portland Cement in the Storms River Bridge television advert in the early 90s. Our car was famously driven across the bridge. It was fitting, as the car was built in the same year that the bridge was completed – 1959.
Some famous Austen Princesses include:
- State Cars of Malta: A pair of Princess limousines, one dating from 1960 and the other, a convertible, from 1955. Both remain in use for state visits and similar occasions; they were originally imported and used by the British Governor of Malta.
- State Cars of the UK: A pair of Vanden Plas 4-Litre Princess Limousines served as semi-state vehicles from 1972 until the mid-1990s; one (NGN 1) is displayed at Sandringham, the other (NGN 2) is at Gaydon.
- The Beatles: John Lennon had an iconic custom 1956 Austen Princess. The Beatles are said to have favoured the Austin Princess due to the large rear doors, making it easier to escape from fans.
- Bob Dylan: Dylan and the Princess is featured on the cover of the No direction home album photographed by famous rock photographer Barry Feinstein.
- Netherlands: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
The Austin Princess Limousine (DM4) was introduced in 1952. The long wheelbase models continued to be built by hand in limited numbers as the Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre Limousine, until 1968. All now being parts of British Leyland, the Jaguar Mark X-based Daimler DS420 was initially produced at the Vanden Plas works in Kingsbury,
The limousine was luxuriously appointed with lots of polished wood, optional mohair rugs and radio with controls in the armrest. Among the long list of available extras were monograms and a flagstaff. The driving compartment was separated from the rear of the car by a division with an optional telephone for the passengers to communicate with the driver. The driving seat was finished in leather but the rear seats were trimmed in cloth, the usual arrangement on many luxury cars of the time. Though not as durable as leather, cloth was considered kinder to passengers’ clothes. To increase seating capacity two occasional seats could be folded out of the floor.
The car has independent coil suspension at the front with semi elliptic leaf springs and anti-roll bar at the rear. The cam and peg type steering gear had optional power assistance.
An Austin A135 Princess Long-wheelbase Limousine tested by The Motor magazine in 1953 had a top speed of 79 mph (127 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 23.3 seconds. A fuel consumption of 15.1 miles per imperial gallon (18.7 L/100 km; 12.6 mpg‑US) was recorded. The test car cost £2480 including taxes.