Austin Princess

Austin Princess

: "For the 1970s car produced by British Leyland and referred to on certain markets as the "Austin Princess", see Princess (car)".

Infobox Automobile

name = Austin Princess (all series)
manufacturer = Austin/BMC
production = 1947-1968
body_style = 4 door saloon
4 door limousine
engine =
transmission =
predecessor = Austin Sheerline
successor = within BL, the Daimler DS420

The Austin Princess was a series of luxury cars made by the Austin company from the 1940s to the 1960s.

Princess naming

The original A125 Austin Sheerline introduced in 1947 was assembled by Austin at their Longbridge factory. In addition to this, Vanden Plas in their North London works bodied a model based on the Sheerline which was sold as the Austin Princess. However, from August 1957 the "Austin" part of the badging was dropped, so although Austin was producing a Princess, it was no longer the "Austin Princess" by name. From May 1960 the Vanden Plas marque was applied in front of "Princess". Later, the "Vanden Plas Princess" was revived as a single model of the Leyland Princess range, built by British Leyland (BL) in the 1970s and initially sold through Austin and other dealerships; this car was never actually badged "Austin Princess" in the UK (though it was in some export markets) and is commonly referred to as simply the "Princess".

Austin A135 - Sheerline-based Austin Princess

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Austin A135 Princess Mark I, II & III

manufacturer = Austin/BMC
production = 1947-1956
1910 made
engine = 3995 cc 6 cylinder overhead-valve
height = convert|70|in|mm|0|abbr=on
width = convert|74|in|mm|0|abbr=on
length = convert|215|in|mm|0|abbr=on(long wheel base)
wheelbase = convert|132|in|mm|0|abbr=on(long wheel base)
The first "Austin Princess" was launched in 1947 as the most expensive flagship model in the Austin range. Based on the Austin Sheerline, the Princess (model code A135) featured a body by the coachbuilder Vanden Plas and was a fairly large saloon or limousine. Not a popular model with the general public, most Princesses (and Sheerlines, for that matter) were bought for civic ceremonial duties or by hire companies as limousines for hire.

The Princess model was updated over the years through Mark I, Mark II and Mark III versions, the variations being fairly minor: the bodywork didn't change much, nor did the 4-litre straight-6 engine. The radiator was fairly upright in old-fashioned style and the car had separate front wings.

During the life of this model (in 1952), Austin became part of the British Motor Corporation (BMC).

A long wheelbase version tested by The Motor magazine in 1953 had a top speed of convert|79|mph|km/h|abbr=on and could accelerate from 0-convert|60|mph|km/h|abbr=on in 23.3 seconds. A fuel consumption of convert|15.1|mpgimp|L/100 km mpgus was recorded. The test car cost £2480 including taxes. cite journal | authorlink = Unsigned |title = The Austin A135 Princess Long-wheelbase Limousine Road Test| journal =The Motor| volume = | pages = | date = July 29 1953]

Princess IV — no longer badged as an Austin

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Princess Mark IV

production = 1956-1959
200 made
engine = 3995 cc 6 cylinder overhead-valve
1956 saw a new Princess Mk IV. This more modern styled car had more "integrated" front wings in the modern style, but was little changed under the skin. This model lasted until 1959; though subsequently the large, specialised limousine version continued to be built by hand in limited numbers as the Vanden Plas 4-Litre Princess Limousine, surviving until 1968. (After this time, with many British marques by then being part of British Leyland, the Jaguar-based Daimler DS420 was the sole limousine offered as part of the new, slightly rationalised range. This had been foreseen in 1966 when British Motor Holdings (BMH) had brought BMC and Jaguar together, and stopped development at Vanden Plas of the potential successor car.)

Pininfarina-designed Vanden Plas Princesses

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Vanden Plas Princess

production = 1959-1964
12,703 made
engine = 2.9 L "C-Series" I6
body_style = 4 door saloon

In 1959 a new Austin A99 Westminster-based Princess was launched. These vehicles were soon changed to bear the Vanden Plas name which became a badge-engineered marque in its own right (rather than being known as coachbuilder for the cars of other marques). The car was smaller than the previous Princess and was largely identical to the Austin A99 Westminster and other models using the same Pininfarina-designed bodyshell. It featured a Vanden Plas grille (fairly square, with a thick surround and vertical slats), round headlamps, and horn grilles on the front. The interior was lavish in typical Vanden Plas style, featuring burr walnut wood trim, leather seats and panels, and high-quality carpeting. Power was a 3-litre unit developing Convert|108|hp|kW|0|abbr=on.

This model was replaced in 1961 by the Vanden Plas Princess Mark II. Styling was similar but the wheelbase was longer. The engine was uprated to Convert|120|hp|kW|0|abbr=on. Better brakes were fitted, and interior improvements included built-in drop-down "picnic tables" for the rear seat passengers. This model lasted until 1964.

Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R

Infobox Automobile generation
name = Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R

production = 1964-1968
6781 made
engine = 3909 cc 6 cylinder overhead inlet side exhaust valve
1964 the Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R was introduced. The biggest change was under the bonnet, where a new 4-litre Rolls-Royce straight-6 engine was fitted — hence the "R" in the name. It was launched at the London Motor Show. Externally, the styling was more rounded and the tailfins were lost. This car was the only mass-produced civilian vehicle ever to use a Rolls-Royce engine. It grew from a project which had foreseen a need for a relatively compact, mass-produced Rolls Royce; prototypes were made using the Austin-engineered central portion of the Vanden Plas, with restyled Rolls Royce and Bentley panels front and rear; neither of these models made it into production, partly due to the introduction of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.

The Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R lasted for 4 years, killed off by BMC in 1968 (just ahead of the transition to British Leyland) after about 6,555 had been built.

Later badge-engineering

Two smaller BMC cars were given a Vanden Plas treatment and named as Vanden Plas Princesses, including an uprated Austin 1100 and Austin 1300, and their Mark II successors.

The final use of the "Princess" name was for the Princess 1800 / 2200 of 1975–78 and the Princess 2 1700 / 2000 / 2200 of 1978–81. This was not badged as an Austin on the home market (although it was badged as such in New Zealand), but was sometimes confused with one because for the first year of its life it was marketed (variously) as the Austin, Morris, and Wolseley 18–22 Series. It was succeeded by the Austin Ambassador in 1982 and thus marked the end of the Princess, although Vanden Plas would continue as a model name in the Rover SD1 range.


External links

* [ Austin Memories]

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