Queen Elizabeth II lived for more than 96 years, reigning over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for nearly 71. During that time, she has meant many things to many different groups of people and has been part of an incredible number of historic events. To us, though, Her Majesty is remembered as being a bit of a gearhead. Here's a look at some of the cars and trucks of Queen Elizabeth II.
To our knowledge, her driving carer began in 1945, when she was trained as a driver and a mechanic in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, driving ambulances and other vehicles to help the fight at home during the war. It's said she never needed a driver's license, as a license is issued in her name, making it unnecessary.
After ascending to the throne, the Queen toured the world, driving and being driven. When at home, she was known to drive around her estates, especially at Balmoral in Scotland, where Elizabeth resided at the time of her death.
Stories of the Queen tearing around back roads well into her 90s abound, including one often repeated tale of her terrifying then Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with a rapid drive down the narrow Scottish estate roads, chatting the whole way. The Prince is said to have begged the Queen to slow down and concentrate. She did not.
Ministry of Information, UK
These large trucks were built by Austin and Mann for the war effort. The design was made to haul 10 casualties or four stretcher cases. The three-ton truck was wider than most U.K. country roads and made 60 hp from its 3.5L six-cylinder engine. This is the type of vehicle the Queen would have been driving during the war.
Gold State Coach
Crochet.david / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
It's not a car, but to miss a chance to show this bit of extravagance would be a shame. The Gold State Coach is an eight-horsepower carriage commissioned in 1760 by King George III and used at every British coronation since 1820. Until the Second World War, this was how the King got to Parliament. It weighs four tons and is covered with gold. The roof is made from the branches of gilded palm trees.
Land Rover Defender
British Motor Museum
We could make an entire story just about the Land Rover Series and Defender models that the Queen and Prince Philip drove during their lives. But since they all look largely the same, we'll skip that. The Land Rover was the Queen's vehicle of choice when touring in her younger days and when driving on her estates. Here are a few noteworthy models.
A Series III Model and Defender are shown in the photo above, both used by HRH. Note the side steps for use by security teams.
British Motor Museum
Series 1 Land Rover used by the Queen on her first Royal tour of the Commonwealth in 1953. The Land Rover had an elevated platform in the rear for Elizabeth and Philip to stand and be seen as they were driven around each country.
After the Land Rover models, it was the Range Rover you were likely to see the Queen driving. That includes this wonderful photo of Elizabeth driving in a hoodie looking like she's having a bit of a rough Saturday morning in a video screenshot that has been circulated far and wide.
British Motor Museum
There was also this early Range Rover, another one of the Queen's fleet of vehicles for reviews.
1956 Ford Zephyr
The Queen, having had four children, drove a number of estate cars in her early years. This custom Ford Zephyr (in stunning wood trim) could seat nine and travel with Royal Rapscalions and their extras around the Sandringham Estate.
Vauxhall Cresta Friary
British automaker Vauxhall long held a royal warrant, and Elizabeth drove several of their vehicles including this Cresta Friary, a post-production estate conversion that included fishing rod holders and, reportedly, a gun rack.
Elizabeth didn't give up on estate cars even into her later years. This famous photo shows the Queen driving in Windsor Great Park, forced to take to the grass to avoid a young family. It is her lawn, after all.
Jaguar XJ State Limousine
Ealasaid~ / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0
The State Limousines are some of the most glorious cars in the Royal Mews - that's fancy for "garage." Jaguar (and Daimler) were used for many years through the 1960s and 1970s, but the relationship continued into the 2010s with cars like this XJ.
Rolls-Royce State Limousines
There have, of course, been a series of Rolls-Royce limousines. One can never have enough, after all. Including this Phantom VI and this 1966 Rolls-Royce used on a trip to Nassau.
State Review Range Rover
One last Range Rover, this one presented by Land Rover for Her Majesty to review the Royal Welsh Regiment. Based on a long-wheelbase Range Rover, it was then converted so that Elizabeth could stand in the back and, well, review.
Bentley State Limousine
John Pannell, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0
Our final entry is this Bentley State Limousine. Presented to HRH for her Golden Jubilee in 2002, just two cars were made and remained in service until her death. While they look like more modern Bentleys, both use the classic six and three-quarters V8. The cars are armoured and air-tight and were typically used on trips abroad. The pair were actually converted to run on biofuel back in 2009, likely the work of King Charles III, who also converted an Aston Martin DB6 to run on the remains of unsold wine.