How Is Princess Diana’s 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo for a Unique Classic? It’s Up for Auction

If you want a right-hand drive classic with history, you'll likely have to dig deep...

1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo
(Images: Silverstone Auctions)

How much do you think it’ll fetch? Or you could bid on it later this month…

Think “royal family”, and an image of chauffeur-driven Bentleys and Rolls-Royces likely springs to your mind. This UK-spec Ford Escort is indeed a royal runabout, however — owned by the late Princess Diana in 1985. Now, it’s up for auction, and apart from being a unique offering (especially here in the U.S.), this car comes with some provenance for a classic enthusiast’s collection.

Princess Diana had an affinity for the Escort, as this isn’t even the first example she owned. In June 2021, her first (and relatively basic) Escort sold for £52,000. That’s around $64,000, and this one should sell for far more.

Apart from this RS Turbo being a rarer and more powerful variant — more on that in a moment — Silverstone Auctions gives some insight on its history. This car is believed to be the only black Escort RS Turbo Series 1, delivered to Her Royal Highness in 1985. She apparently ended up with this car after the Royalty Protection Group (SO14) turned down a red convertible Escort, on the basis that it provided little privacy and even less protection. To that end, Ford went even further to give it a makeunder, swapping in a five-slat grille from the humdrum Escort models and the black paintjob (all of these hot-rodded Series 1s were offered in white).

More on the Escort’s specs

If Lady Diana had to have a hard-top, she insisted on the Escort Turbo RS. That was a fine choice, as this car packs a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine with 130 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque on tap. Granted, that’s not a huge amount of power, but the engine and five-speed manual to which it’s mated only have to push 2,182 pounds along. Couple that with the fact that the base 1.1-liter car produced an absolutely woeful 50 horsepower, and we’re talking about a truly fast Ford for the period.

Ultimately, Diana gave car back to Ford in 1988, with about 6,800 miles on the clock. From there, it landed with manager of the company’s Government Sales department, and was (strangely) given away in a Kiss FM radio promotion in September 1993. Silverstone Auctions notes a “Miss Jones of Essex” won the car with 12,000 miles on it, but she did not keep it for long.

In 2008, a Ford RS collector came upon this Escort RS Turbo, and purchased it for a “Mr. Windsor” in November 1994.

He’s held onto the car ever since, and after nearly 30 years this car is officially hitting the auction block in late August. It’s still in immaculate shape, with 24,961 miles on the odometer. The Escort is still completely stock from delivery and has a long history file, as you’d expect.

Will it bring in six figures? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s always fun to see a classic with this sort of history hit the market every now and then.

If you’re not particularly interested in concours-level cars, you can always lean in the other direction with something like this daily-driven 1948 Ford F-1: