A car given to the late Princess Diana as an engagement present by Prince Charles two months before the royals tied the knot in May 1981 is up for auction. It is being sold through Essex auctioneers Reeman Dansie after the current owner kept its origins a secret for over 20 years. The royal link means the 1981 Ford Escort MkIII Ghia 1.6L, with only 83,000 miles on the clock, could spark a bidding war among collectors and fetch up to £40,000 ($56,640).
The Princess of Wales continued to use the car until August 1982, two months after giving birth to her first born, Prince William, when it was sold to a private owner. In 1995, the car was bought by an antiques dealer as a birthday present for his daughter, and subsequently sold to a “great admirer” of Diana, Tina Kirkpatrick, who has largely kept the vehicle safely stowed away in a garage for the last two decades. She never told anyone that it was, in fact, the princess’s personal “little runaround” that she drove around her hometown of Hertfordshire, England in the early days of her relationship with the Prince of Wales. There are also numerous photographs of her driving it to polo matches and society events.
The 40-year-old car is in excellent condition and full working order, boasting its original paint job, upholstery, license plate, and a silver frog mascot on the bonnet – a copy of a gift from Princess Diana’s sister, Lady Sarah Spencer, to remind her of the fairy tale of a girl whose kiss turns a frog into a prince. James Grinter, managing director of Reeman Dansie Auctions, said he was amazed by the condition of the car, which is important to collectors.
Kirkpatrick said she has driven around the Escort as a second car. “A lot of people asked me why I had it and I used to tell them that it was my first car I passed my test in and that I was attached to it. I felt that its history and provenance were so unique and I didn’t want many people knowing,” she added.
Princess Diana’s Audi convertible was sold last year for £58,000, and the bright silver Escort will now be sold on June 29.