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Remembering An Audi Coupe Which Came By Royal Approval

A Ford Escort RS Turbo, once owned and driven regularly by Princess Diana recently sold for £650,000 at auction. We repeat. A glorified late 1980's Ford Escort has exchanged hands for nigh on three-quarters of a million pounds sterling.

The one-off black version of the otherwise all white Series I Ford RST, understandably coveted a lot of attention in the lead up to going under the hammer. However, the ‘People’s Princess’ was also a big Audi fan too, it transpires. Having driven an Audi 80 convertible during the mid-1990s, and often seen behind the wheel of it when nipping to and from the gym. Whilst also shuttling her (then) young princes’, William and Harry around in the Ingolstadt-manufactured cabriolet.

Far From an Austin Princess

This choice was seen as something of a departure for the royal household, who had traditionally opted for the more revered and establishment likes of Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land-Rover. So, observing Diana whizzing around in a Ford Escort (albeit a top-of-the-range Rallye Sport hot hatch version) and a soft-top Audi made for quite the revelation. Yet the Princess was very much re-inventing the royal family in her own individually appealing way, as was well documented - if not necessarily received in close circles - at the time.

And The Upshot of All This Audi Pokery?....

Well, it doesn’t take Einstein or a marketing think tank to determine the upshot of this bold move by Diana. Sales of Audi 80 convertibles went through the, erm, roof, such was the overwhelming influence and mass-market popularity of Prince Charles’ then wife. It’s not as though the Audi 80 in rag-top form wasn’t generally sought after before officially coming with HRH’s seal of instant approval. But like anything Diana touched (or was closely associated with back then), EVERYONE wanted it thereafter.

The 80, Very Much a Sign of the 90’s Times

Years later, since the tragic and untimely passing of the princess, her 80 convertible has turned up at a few specialist vehicle auctions, and subsequently changed hands on a limited number of occasions. According to all first-hand accounts, this unique Audi cabriolet has fared well with its advancing years. Its Gomera Pearl dark green exterior paintwork withstanding the test of time, while its contrasting light parchment leather interior equally steadfast in weathering the same passage. In terms of the underlying powerplant in this relatively ‘common’ German cabriolet, a naturally-aspirated 2.3-litre inline five was more than capable of transporting Diana and her occupants around in the level of style to which she was born/accustomed. With a four-speed automatic transmission the means by which to extract the momentum from the engine.

Brace Yourselves for the Controversial Bit......

Now, for the controversial bit. We - or rather I, in the capacity of the author - have to say prefer the Escort RS Turbo. Just because the Blue Oval is a classic design. And in black looks pretty darn cool.

Oh, and it might have something to do with the lingering fact that said author once owned a Series II RS Turbo of the Escort denomination. All things equal, they also owned/drove an Audi 80 coupe of Di's vintage too.

WCC Neston - For ALL Your Audi Needs

Here at WCC Neston, we are very familiar with Audi 80s from back in the day. With many of our team having cut their teeth on them, and reconnected in latter years when customers have booked their more retro rides in with us. We routinely provide a wealth of services for owners of all models found within the Audi family, irrespective of vintage. So do, please, get in touch to arrange whatever work you wish to be carried out on your vehicle.

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