Even in the best condition, a Ford Escort from the mid-1980s wouldn’t be particularly valuable unless someone rather important owned it. And if royalty isn’t important, I don’t know what is. At the end of August, Silverstone Auto Auctions in the UK held a classic car sale at their racetrack in Towcester, about 8 miles southwest of Northampton. Seemingly all sorts of cars were up for grabs, from a 1948 Bristol 400 to a 2022 re-creation of a Jaguar XKSS. There were also some cars with famous owners, which no doubt increased their value. For example, a 1973 Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible owned by Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees sold for £108K, while a 1988 Volkswagen Caravelle minibus owned by Stephen Hawking unfortunately and surprisingly went unsold. However, as expected, the star of the sale was a 1985 Ford Escort owned and driven by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Before joining the royal family, Diana drove a red Ford Escort cabriolet, which was deemed unsuitable by her security detail. The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace look after all the carriages and cars used by the royal family. They would have gladly supplied the princess with an armored Rolls-Royce or Bentley limousine, as was and still is common for royal transportation. But instead of upgrading, Diana insisted she have a Ford Escort that met the security team’s standards. Ford mainly sold the Escort in white, but Diana’s Escort was one of its kind, painted completely black for security and discretion. The car also still has some extra security features installed just for Diana, including extra mirrors and a radio in the glove compartment.
Diana kept the car until 1988, using it to drive herself and her bodyguard riding shotgun across London, mainly between Chelsea and Kensington. When it sold, the car had just under 25,000 miles on it. Silverstone had predicted the Escort to be one of the big ticket items, valuing it at around £100K. But Diana was and remains one of the most iconic figures of the last half-century. That, plus this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of her death. So I guess it’s no surprise that the car sold for more than six times that amount. The final price was £650K / $762.7K (or £722.5K / $847.8K w/p). The buyer has remained anonymous, but when you have Princess Diana’s car, I suppose you can’t keep the news to yourself for very long.