01 April 2016
Leyland Princess 2200 HLS
Why We Like It
If you want a wedge-shaped slice of 1970s nostalgia, a Princess is hard to beat. This one appears to be in exceptional condition, and how many others can there be with this mileage and originality? Plus it's the top-of-the-range version too, with more velour and vinyl than Debenhams stocked in 1977. A head-turner with a difference.
What is it?
Few cars evoke the bold and sometimes less than convincing strain of experimental car design characterising the ‘70s as completely as the Princess. Replacing the Alec Issigonis-designed 1800-2200 Landcrab, it survived from 1975 to 1981, to be replaced by the Austin Ambassador.
Front ¾ view
Despite its numberplate (USE 600R) this Leyland Princess appears to have seen astonishingly little use during the past 40 years, its odometer reading slightly over 16,000 miles. The seller believes the mileage to be genuine, the car having spent years stored in Scotland, where it was originally sold, the solidifying petroleum gunk in its fuel tank confirming decades of idleness, as does the car’s exceptional condition.
UV light damage to the exterior décor looks minimal, the vinyl roof said to be in superb condition, the windscreen seals still supple. The seller says that the car was repainted in 2013 shortly after he acquired it because spider veins had appeared under the paint on most panels. Rust damage was said to be negligible, the only welding required being minor work to the offside front wing. The car was subsequently displayed at the BMW MINI factory in Oxford, as part of the plant’s 2013 centennial celebrations, the Princess having been manufactured there.
The seller says that the fuel tank was removed, cut open, thoroughly cleaned and welded up by a specialist, the fuel lines cleaned, the fuel pump replaced and the twin SU carburettors rebuilt. The car also had a new timing chain tensioner and a fresh set of Michelin tyres. It retains its original Michelin spare, which is unused, along with its bagged toolkit.
This shot reveals the Princess in all its 1970s wedged glory. This is the top-of-the-range model, with the full vinyl roof and transverse 110bhp 2.2 litre six cylinder, an engine far smoother than the four cylinder version found in Austin Allegros and Maxis. This car is a four-speed manual, allowing a performance a little sharper than the three-speed auto that was a popular option.
Although they look alloy, the wheels are steel and covered with neat vaned covers. The colour is Reynard metallic (think foxes) and we think, suits the car very well.
The dashboard is in excellent condition according to the owner, although it’s not entirely original, featuring a combined eight-track and radio rather than the simple radio originally supplied. Also non-standard is the wooden lower glovebox surround and lid. The vendor says that all the instruments work – including the clock – as does all of the switchgear.
Confirmation that this car has probably spent the majority of its life in a dark, dry place can be seen in these velour seats, which in these photos, appear to show no fade and minimal wear. The driver’s can be shuffled into no less than 240 different positions, being height adjustable front and rear. Both front seats also have fold-down armrests.
An angle almost as startling as the Princess’s profile silhouette, its rear-end revealing a bootlid rather than the tailgate that many thought the model should have had from the start. The large boot is in excellent condition, says the seller, with its original black carpet and underfloor tool stowage well. The spare wheel cover is also present and said to be in perfect order.
Despite British Leyland selling well over 200,000 Princesses and near-identical examples of the short-lived 18-22 Series models that preceded it, only 89 are on the road, with another 29 off-the-road.
Make and model:
Leyland Princess 2200 HLS
six cylinder, 2227cc
120 lbs ft
0 - 60mph:
How many left:
32 taxed, 66 SORN