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Gavin Green rates the royal wedding cars

By Gavin Green

Analysis

03 May 2011 09:18

Well, the frocks have had enough press coverage. (Kate Middleton 1, Pippa Middleton 2, Princess Letizia of Spain 3 and Victoria Beckham last, if you ask Mrs Green.) But what about the other stars of the royal wedding? The cars.

In an age of puke-inducing PC, there was a pleasing lack of Priuses, puny EVs and pious fuel misers on show. The star car was a gas-guzzling old Aston, never mind that well-meaning Charles had converted it to run on ethanol (but why?). Every car that paraded through SW1 was (pleasingly) as eco friendly as the Lancaster bomber and Tornadoes that later did a fly past and almost blew off the Queen’s silly yellow hat.

So how did the cars compare? (Ratings out of 5 below, with fashion notes in brackets.)

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Volante

(Based on a design by Touring of Milan, handmade by Aston craftsman in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.)

This was the star car, the vehicle that got almost as much coverage as ‘that dress’. William and Kate, of course, drove it on their 500-yard dash from Buckingham Palace to Clarence House. Owned by Prince Charles: it was his 21st birthday present, in the days when he preferred cars to carnations. Shame his parents didn’t give him a DB5 instead – a prettier car with a more pert Pippa Middleton-like rear. A great advertisement for British engineering and style – 42 years ago. (4/5)

1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV

(Designed and hand crafted by HJ Mulliner of Mayfair, London.)

Charles and Camilla chose the oldest car in the royal fleet for their ride to church. No surprise there. It looked stately and dignified, if about as high-tech as the State Landau carriage that Kate and William used to travel back from Westminster Abbey.(3/5)

1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI

(Designed and built by Mulliner Park Ward in Willesden, London.)

This is the car that Kate and her dad used to travel to the church. Charles and Camilla were on board when attacked by starving students last year. Fortunately 5000 police officers on hand managed to keep rioters at bay as the royal Roller glided seamlessly and student-free from Belgravia’s Goring Hotel to Westminster Abbey. (3/5)

2002 Bentley State Limousine

(Hand crafted at Crewe, Cheshire, under the design direction of Belgian Dirk van Braeckel.)

William and Harry used one on their way to church. Their grandparents used the other. (Only two were built – two too many if you ask me.) Lots of glazing gives the punters a good view of the royal personages. Alas the Bentley State Limo makes a Maybach look like a Ferrari. Hideously ugly. Why didn’t Buckingham Palace just buy a pair of new Phantoms instead? (1/5)

2011 Jaguar XJ LWB

(Designed by Ian Callum in Whitley, Coventry, and made from aluminium in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham.)

I have never been 100 percent sure about the look of the new XJ. But after all the old Rollers and the ungainly brace of Bentleys that made the Mall look like a period costume drama, the sleek new Jaguar – as used by Kate’s mum and brother on their way to church – was a breath of modernity. It just goes to show that Britain can do something good in the 21st century apart from organise weddings. (4/5)

2011 Volkswagen minibuses

(Designed under the guidance of Italian Water de’Silva, mass made in a big ugly factory in Hanover, Germany.)

 ‘Must be the Middletons’, quipped one onlooker when the fleet of Volkswagen buses journeyed down the Mall, destination Westminster Abbey. But no! Instead of the commoners going by bus, while the royals stuck to their Rollers, it was indeed the scions of Victoria who made the journey by coach. True, it was the lesser and middle royals  – Zara Phillips, Duke and Duchess of Kent etc. I thought the sight somewhat unedifying and at odds with all the pomp and grandeur. Plus, if you’re going to use minibuses, why not use British Transits – talk about connecting with White Van man! – rather than Volkswagens painted German-racing silver? (1/5)