It's Not Just About the Family
My wife and I along with probably millions of other people are binge watching the fourth season of The Crown. Some are watching for the machinations of the back room wheeling and dealing to keep the Royal Family viable, some are watching for the fashions of the time, others want to be swept away by the romance of prince and princesses.
I’m watching for the cars.
The mid-to-late 1960s Aston Martin Volante is a singular reason why gasoline powered vehicles should never be totally banned. It’s rolling sculpture. “Volante”, according to Merriam Webster, is derived from the Italian, for literally, flying, or moving with light rapidity. The compromise convertible top of Prince Charles’ chosen ride is not quite an abomination, but when that top is down, the clean lines and taut stance of this vehicle really shine.
The Common and Not Quite Common
Margaret Thatcher is invited to Balmoral Castle. How does she arrive? In a Rover. Not a Land Rover or Range Rover that we associate with bespoke luxury sport utility vehicles. A pedestrian mid-size sedan. When Charles sends for Diana to meet the family at Balmoral (no pressure there), a Bentley meets her at the train station. The future Princess of Wales rates a Bentley, and it’s Rover come over for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The Queen only travels in two kinds of vehicles: Land Rover to cover the 50,000 odd acres of the Balmoral estate, and Rolls Royce for the regular roads. Land Rovers are generally reputed to be great, long lasting vehicles. BMW’s short ownership of the brand in the late 1990s had them referring to the marque as ‘The English Patient’ owing to wide ranging challenges. But those 1950-1970 Land Rovers were easy to fix, and pretty reliable.
The Queen herself knows her way around under the hood as this photo from April 1945 (courtesy of the British Central Office of Information) demonstrates. An eighteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth worked to change the spark plugs on this truck.
If your partner insists that you watch The Crown with them, I urge you to look at the series from a slightly different point of view. I do enjoy the intrigue, but I’m also watching out for the cars.