Princess Diana’s Personal Ford Escort RS Turbo S1 Is Headed to Auction

It’s probably the only chance any of us will ever have at our own Royal Escort.

byNico DeMattia| PUBLISHED Aug 2, 2022 4:06 PM
Princess Diana’s Personal Ford Escort RS Turbo S1 Is Headed to Auction

Princess Diana was more of a gearhead than most of the royal family and proved it by owning and driving some pretty cool cars, including a Mark 2 Ford Escort Convertible and an Audi 80 Cabriolet. Potentially the coolest of them all was a 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1, which you'll be able to bid on soon at the Silverstone Auction, on Aug. 27.

Photo by Brendan Beirne/Shutterstock

The princess took special delivery of her Escort RS Turbo S1 in '85 after The Royalty Protection Command deemed her previous bright red Mark 2 Escort 1.6i Cabriolet to be unsafe. Princess Diana's car was special and included some modifications from Ford Special Vehicle Engineering. For starters, it's reportedly the only Mark 3 Escort Turbo S1 to be painted black—the rest were white. Princess Diana's Escort S1 also had a five-bar black grille instead of the two-bar white grille, a second rearview mirror, and a radio in the glove box. The latter two were used by a protection officer that rode with her at all times, though neither has remained in the car.

It's hard to overstate just how cool it was that Princess Diana, a member of the British royal family, drove a black Escort RS Turbo S1 on the regular. The idea of a royal family member driving around in an affordable, working-class hot-hatch, while the rest of the family was almost exclusively chauffeured in Rolls-Royces, is seriously cool. It would be unthinkable today. Can you imagine any current head of state driving around in a Hyundai Veloster N?

I'm also not sure she could have picked a cooler car. The Mark 3 Ford Escort RS Turbo S1 was, and still is, one of the coolest hot hatches in the world. It looked fantastic, with its boxy three-door design, front rally lights, seven-spoke wheels, and subtle rear spoiler. To be honest, I think the Princess' Escort is better looking than the normal car. For starters, it looks better in black. But the black five-bar grille also looks better than the white two-bar grille of the standard S1.

Under the hood was a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which made 132 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque. It also had a five-speed manual, independent front and rear suspension, MacPherson front struts, front and rear anti-roll bars, and coil springs at both axles. The latter of which was a big deal at the time because previous-gen Escorts had leaf spring rear suspension. By today's standards, the Escort S1 isn't particularly quick, hitting 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. However, it was quick by 1980s standards, so the Princess and her security guard probably had some fun back in the day.

Princess Diana drove the car pretty regularly until 1988 when it returned to Ford. However, 6,800 of its 24,961 miles had Princess Diana behind the steering wheel, which naturally makes it incredibly desirable for many collectors. Even if it did change hands quite a few times over the years. However, it's doubtful anyone will care about the owners that followed. This will always be Princess Diana's Escort RS.

The Mark 3 Escort RS Turbo S1 auction will go live Aug. 27 if you're interested in having a cool piece of royal history, as well as a kickass '80s hot-hatch.