Whether you like the idea of it existing or otherwise, the royal family are an institution of British society and a huge part of the international image of Britain in general. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a bonafide celebrity in her own right, commanding huge amounts of attention and curiosity. Indeed, the royal family is having more and more attention lumped on it these days than ever before, both for good (The massively acclaimed Netflix series The Crown and the entry via marriage of Megan, Duchess of Sussex into the fold) and bad (Prince Andrew... need I say more?) reasons. It's no surprise then that there's one question that's commonly asked about the world's longest serving monarch. What exactly does Queen Elizabeth II drive? Does she drive at all? What kind of cars does she like the most? Fortunately, we do have a very good answer to that!
Bentley State Limousine
Photo: S. Foskett [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]
This is arguably the most important car in Elizabeth II's personal collection. It's a fully custom built Bentley limousine that was delivered to her in time for her Golden Jubilee in 2002. There are actually two of these in existence - both of them are kept at the Royal Mews (presumably one is a spare car just in case something goes wrong). If you've ever seen the Queen out in public, it's more than likely that this is the car she was travelling in - in the back too, since the Queen is driven in this car rather than being the one to drive it herself. She also uses this vehicle to get to church whenever she's at Balmoral or Sandringham.
The limo is powered by a modified version of the twin turbo 6.75 litre V8 that's found in the Bentley Arnage R of the time, producing 400 hp (296 kW or 406 PS) and 616 lb ft (835 Nm) of torque. It's also over 2 and a half feet longer than an Arnage, as well as being taller and wider. Being a state car, it's fully equipped for anything a potential adversary might throw at Her Royal Highness, including armoured glass, kevlar reinforced tyres and a cabin that can give protection against chemical attacks and roadside bombs.
Although it's a big heavy brute, the palace have made some considerations towards its environmental impact. Both limousines were converted to run on biofuel in 2009. This is likely due to the influence of her son Prince Charles, who is a massive advocate of environmentally friendly policies.
The Queen is a big fan of everyone's favourite luxurious off-roader. She's had several of them over the years, including custom-built landaulet models which she often uses for public engagements. When a royal procession is underway, it's a good call to have a car where she can stand up in the back and do the customary waves to the crowds. It's not uncommon to see her pottering around on or near one of the Royal Family's country estates in a slightly older normal production Range Rover, taking the wheel herself as she often likes to do.
Land Rover Defender
Photo: John Kloepper [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Another one of the Queen's favourite cars is another old off-road favourite, the Land Rover Defender. Like the Range Rover, she's had several of these (up to 30 if you believe certain estimates!) and she's often seen driving around Balmoral and Sandringham in them. As somebody who worked as a mechanical engineer during the second world war helping to service the army's trucks, there's probably something about the Defender's no-nonsense mechanical simplicity that the Queen really likes.
The Queen's Defenders, however, are a little bit different from the ones you or I might get to own. Hers are kitted out with options and equipment that were never offered to the general public during the original model's run. A 2002 model she custom ordered from Land Rover to use at Sandringham had heated leather seats and a raised ride height so she could traverse the terrain of her estate more easily, as well as a 4.2 litre V8. It was apparently used a lot for hunting parties on the royal estates, something which was given away when it was auctioned off as the auctioneers found shotgun shells in the glovebox!
With the advent of the new Defender, maybe the Queen's already got one on order? It would certainly be interesting to hear what she thinks about it!
When the first Bentley Bentayga rolled off the production line, it had already been earmarked to be going to a very special customer. That special customer was the Queen herself! The brutally powerful SUV (claimed to be the fastest in the world) is another emblem of the Queen's connection with classic British brands and, being one of the Queen's personal cars, I wouldn't be surprised if it's got some very cool unique features!
Rolls-Royce Phantom V
Photo: Rex Gray [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
We all know very well that the Queen is a classy lady and this vehicle is the absolute epitome of class. There's nothing more dignified and stately than a classic Rolls-Royce and the Phantom V is definitely right up at the top of that list. The Queen's examples are two of only 516 Phantom Vs ever made and was her official state car before the introduction of her custom Bentley. They are now retired from active duty and are both on public display (one is in the Royal Motor Museum in Sandringham and the other is in the special garage aboard the Britannia in Leith, Edinburugh).
She's in very cool company too in her ownership of this car - other owners of Phantom Vs include John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Elton John. Having said that though, there's also a fair amount of owners who have been brutal dictators... not so good!
This is the oldest car in the royal family's collection of vehicles - it dates back to 1900! It was the first car ever owned by a member of the royal family and it's currently kept at Sandringham, along with the family's other super rare and historically significant vehicles.
Daimler Super V8 LWB
Photo: Brooklands Museum
The queen had one of these super luxurious saloons as one of her personal cars from 2001-2004. The Daimler Super V8 is a special car in and of itself, but the Queen's version was extra special, being outfitted with a load of secret gadgets and special features added at the Queen's request. These included a special armrest designed to hold the Queen's handbag, additional security lights, a direct radio connection to Downing Street and the Home Office and extra switches to operate the windows from either side of the car whilst she was being driven (she liked fresh air to be coming into the car, but not directly onto her face).
If you want to buy into the royal motoring experience, the Daimler Super V8 might be the cheapest way into it. It's not uncommon to see examples of the same vintage as the Queen's example going for well under £10k (or even under £5k!). This example, however, cost a lot more than that - at an auction at Brooklands in 2013, it ended up selling for just over £45k!