Vanden Plas Princess Limo

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Vanden Plas Princess Limo

Postby Songman » Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:24 pm

Hello all...

I'm brand new on the forum here and just learning about these cars. Honestly, being an American, I never really knew anything about Vanden Plas other than it was an upscale Jaguar. And then I bought this Princess limo about a month ago so that has all changed.

I really don't know all that much about our car other than it was in Arizona and then California. The last time it was registered to drive was 1979 in Arizona. Obviously it was registered somewhere in the UK at one time because of the license plate. I hear that the plates can tell a lot about the car as well but I have no idea...

Anyway... I'll post some pictures of the car as I bought it. It's pretty rough, but apparently mostly complete. At some time in it's life someone started to do some work on it so the original engine was replaced with a late model Ford 302 with an automatic transmission.

Right now I am just at the starting point of the project where I am tearing it all down to see how bad it is. The thing that worries me most is the wood framing. The body is mostly good but I would rather replace the front fenders and fender skirts if I can find them. If not, I will just repair them.

Yeah, it will be a huge project, but I think it will be great in the long run. Any advice or tips is welcome.


These are the eBay pictures that I saw when I bought it.
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:33 pm

Postby MCiAutomotive » Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:15 pm

Welcome to the forum, the car doesn't look too bad, let us know how you get on with it :)

UK number plate info:
1904 - 1963
Format: AAA111 or 111AAA
Last two letters of the three denotes the area of first registration (list).

Last two letters of the three denotes the area of first registration (list).
Last letter gives the year (list).

Last two letters of the three denotes the area of first registration (list).
First letter gives the year (list).

First two letters denote area of first registration- different codes to the ones previously used (list).
Two numbers give the date- 02 means March 2002, 52 means September 2002, etc.

On the first three formats, the numbers go from 1-999, hence some number plates are of the format A1AAA etc.

Other info
Posts: 116
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 1:26 pm
Location: Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Postby Songman » Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:34 am

Thank you very much! So my car was originally registered in Leeds and is a 63 or earlier.

My wife and I come over there for vacations a couple of times a year but I have never been into Northern England. We mostly go to London area and Southern Ireland. We were planning a trip to drive Northern England and Scotland this year but her dad sold us on an Egypt trip with him. Next time we are there I will definitely have to visit Leeds to see where the old girl came from.

Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:33 pm

Postby Giles Usher » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:13 pm

If you join the Vanden Plas Owners Club you can get a copy of build records. There is also a club archivist who can help with copies of technical manuals. Also look for Vanden Plas 4 Litre manuals on Ebay (but be careful not to confuse this with the Vanden Plas princess 4 Litre R, a totally different car). Might also be worth buying a sales brochure on Ebay to help you with interior restoration, buy the club can provide copies. Parts such as replacement pistons and rings are now scarce so you'll need to keep looking on Ebay etc for parts for the Austin 4 litre engine.

If you are restoring and get stuck you can print any cries for help in the club magazine.

The car is a Vanden Plas Princess 4 Litre limousine (the DM4 series - look at the chassis number and you'll see what I mean). So it will have been built in or after 1960 (before that it would have had a deeper grille with no silver surround and would have been called an Austin Princess). It will probably have started its life black, then have been bought by the wedding trade where she may have suffered a bit.

Info on the marque is available at and at, left column click on 'marques' then click on 'Vanden Plas'

Restoration of a DM4 won't be easy and you'll need to check the wood frame of the body plus the body mounts to ensure nothing has sagged. Use nothing but 20W/50 oil in the engine and make sure that the axle is drained and filled with new EP80. Don't use anything thinner. The VPOC has a few DM4 owners who I'm sure can help you out.
Giles Usher
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:57 pm

princess limo

Postby martin k » Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:43 pm

do you want to buy a proper workshop manual for this car. 40 uk pounds plus post
martin k
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 8:04 pm
Location: new forest, hampshire

Postby Songman » Sat Jul 14, 2007 10:50 pm

Thanks guys. I do intend to join the club, Giles. There used to be a club in the States apparently but it has died due to lack of interest.

The service manual and mechanical advice won't do me much good I'm afraid. The original engine from the car is already gone, and the axles will follow suit shortly. I am considering this car a rebuild instead of a restoration. Too much of the original car is already missing. I assume mechanical parts would be very difficult to find, especially over here, so I am going to transplant late model US stuff into it. I know that will make purists gasp because I am one as well. But I am also a realist and I realize that this car is too far gone to be original.

What I will be interested in is body and interior information, specifically the wood framework as mentioned above.

Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:33 pm

Postby Giles Usher » Sun Jul 22, 2007 7:03 pm

Being a purist is ok if you have the luxury of available spares. The fact that you are keeping the car on the road against the odds is worthwhile. You might also have a look at the German Vanden Plas register website -

Once you've joined the VPOC I can put you in touch with someone who might hopefully be able to help you out.
Giles Usher
Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:57 pm

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a) Generally to help and encourage members to maintain these fine cars in good running order and appearance.

b) To organise rallies and meetings nationwide, and to field an annual Show Day. Members can compete at these events for trophies, these being awarded for the best cars in restoration, and most used classes.

c) To offer technical advice to those people seeking help. We also help those not wishing to carry out their own repairs, as some of our members are motor engineers and specialise in the various models within the club.

d) Spares are offered for sale through the club magazine, and several of our members have stocks of spares for sale.

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