Royal racer! Princess Diana’s Ford Escort RS Turbo is up for auction

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Listed without a reserve price, the one-off 1985 Ford hot hatch could reset the auction record for cars owned by Princess Di.


Jordan Mulach

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A 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo first owned by Princess Diana is heading to auction later this month in the UK.

Listed by Silverstone Auctions without a reserve price, the third-generation 1985 Escort RS Turbo is one of approximately 8600 ‘Series 1’ models built by Ford, and was delivered new to the Princess of Wales in August 1985.

Princess Diana had prior history with Ford Escorts – as an engagement present, Prince Charles gifted her a silver 1981 Ford Escort Ghia hatchback, which sold last year for £52,000 ($AU91,500).



While the Princess originally had her eye on a red convertible Escort to replace the Ghia, the Royalty Protection Command SO14 didn’t think the car’s canvas roof would offer much privacy or protection.

As an alternative, Princess Diana insisted on Ford’s latest hot hatch – the Escort Turbo RS.

The three-door hatch’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine produced 97kW when new, with power sent to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.



However, to draw attention away from the Escort, Ford created a one-off example specifically for the Princess. Ford painted the RS Turbo black rather than the white of all other Series 1 examples.

In addition to this, the Escort was fitted with a five-slat grille from a lower-grade variant rather than the three-slat grille of the RS Turbo.

A secondary rearview mirror was installed as well as a radio in the glove box, both of which were used by the protection officer who accompanied the Princess.



The Princess returned the Escort to Ford in May 1988, having clocked up around 6800 miles (11,000 kilometres) with the RS Turbo mostly used as a London runabout.

Sold internally to a Ford manager, the Escort RS Turbo was used as a promotional giveaway car by UK radio station Kiss FM in September 1993.

The competition winner then sold it in November 1994 to a Mr Windsor – not a royal one – who owned the Escort until 2008, selling the RS Turbo to its current owner.



Due to be auctioned on August 27, the Escort could break the auction record for a car owned by the late Princess, currently held by a 1994 Audi 80 cabriolet which sold for £58,000 ($AU102,000) in March 2020. 

Jordan Mulach

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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