Princess Diana’s Turbo Ford Escort Sells at U.K. Auction for an Astonishing $850,000
A 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo that was “collection quality” but did not have the Diana pedigree was sold at
A 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo that was “collection quality” but did not have the Diana pedigree was sold at auction in 2021 for more than 10 times the price of the Ford Escort that was sold at auction currently for the value of $857,712, it was noted. Prince Charles handed Lady Diana Spencer a silver engagement ring a month before the royal couple’s summer 1981 wedding.
The vehicle featured four doors, 79 horsepower, and was otherwise fairly basic and downright bland. Charles’s gift sent a message of respectability during a time of austerity for many British commoners: the newest member of the royal household would not upset any teacups. However, as we now know, a storm was on the horizon, and four years later, Princess Di was on the rise.
Diana owned three third-generation Escorts. Ford’s European compact family car was now available with front-wheel drive after the rear-wheel-drive Mark I and Mark II Escorts, which collectors and vintage rally racers still favor. It was a current decision for a modern British family. The Escort became the best-selling car in Britain in just two years.
Ford created a modified Escort hatchback with two doors dubbed the XR3 to generate some excitement to compete with vehicles like the Volkswagen GTI (later XR3i, as fuel injection arrived). The XR3 was a sufficient amount of scrappy for its day, but turbocharging’s relatively recent technology promised performance gains.
The third-generation Escort’s quickest model was the RS Turbo. Production was 132 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 133 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm, thanks to an aluminum head, an upgraded camshaft, and factory turbocharging. By today’s standards, they are not very impressive numbers, but the RS Turbo was sufficiently speedy compared to a curb weight of slightly over 2000 pounds.
Diana first swapped her modestly bland Ghia for a bright-red convertible Escort, upsetting her security team. Simply put, the droptop had too much sight. After several messages were exchanged between Ford’s PR division and the Royalty Protection Command, a compromise was achieved. Diana would receive the Escort RS Turbo she desired, painted black on the assembly line so she could fly under the radar.
Diana’s black hatchback was put up for auction by a UK auction company with no reserve. It had blue pinstriping, 24,961 miles on the meter, a full ownership history with RS Owners Club paperwork, maintenance bills, press clippings, glossy images of Diana driving the vehicle, and vintage registration paperwork. As is customary for ex-Royal cars, it also had Ford documents attesting to re-plating the registration number.
She first wanted to drive about town in a red Ford Escort 1.6i Cabriolet, captured on camera when the princess drove it to Ascot in 1984. However, her security staff persuaded her to choose a different car because they felt that the soft top of a convertible did not offer enough privacy and protection for a royal highness. According to the auction brochure, she requested that hers be black.
Her selection turned into the original and sole black RS Turbo Series 1. Additionally, it had some unusual modifications that made it more modest. The protection officer would sit in the passenger seat as she drove. Ford’s special vehicle engineering department built a five-slat front grille and a supplementary rear view mirror for him. Almost 37 years before its sale, on August 23rd, 1985, the car was registered.