Vanden Plas, a renowned British coachbuilder celebrated for its exquisite Vintage-era Bentley creations, saw a significant shift when Austin acquired the company in 1946 and later transformed it into a standalone marque. Starting in the late 1940s, Vanden Plas specialized in crafting premium bodies for top-tier Austin models, most notably the A135 Princess Limousine, prior to attaining full marque status in 1960.
To capitalize on Vanden Plas’ prestigious brand in the larger owner-driver market, a Vanden Plas-branded version of the Austin A99 Westminster emerged in 1960 as the Princess 3-Litre. Mechanically identical to the Austin A99 and Wolseley 6/99, incomplete cars from the Cowley factory were sent to Vanden Plas’ Kingsbury, North London facility for meticulous finishing. Here, they received opulent touches such as walnut veneer accents, specialized instruments, lavish leather upholstery, and enhanced sound insulation. In 1961, when the Austin A99 evolved into the A110 with a longer wheelbase and more power, the Princess followed suit, becoming the ‘MkII.’
The subsequent phase of development saw the Princess equipped with the six-cylinder Rolls-Royce FB60 engine, a 3,909cc short-stroke variant of the one used in the Silver Cloud. Substantial modifications were undertaken to accommodate the Rolls-Royce powerplant, resulting in the highly acclaimed Princess 4-Litre R model. Unfortunately, after an initial surge in popularity, sales gradually declined, and production ceased in 1968, with only 6,555 cars manufactured.