Land Rover Series III 88” Metal top ex-Dutch Royal Family
In 1975 Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands bought Villa Rocco dei Dragoni, a private family estate in Tavernelle Val di Pesa, Italy. Actually the story goes that this Tuscany villa was purchased from Count de Vicini, as a gift for their three sons, for the total sum of a good cup of coffee. A year after, in 1976, the Royal Stables took delivery of a brand new Land Rover Series III 88 Metal Top. We were told that it was this particular car that the three royal princes used on the estate.
We imagine that they all learnt how to drive in this Land Rover at a very young age. Using the clutch, changing gears and switching back and forth between high and low gear must have been great fun in this four wheeler. With the dry climate in Tuscany in mind, both the boys and this car must have had a blast together. A feeling of total freedom.
The Royal Stables is responsible for transport for all the members of the Royal House and Officers of the Royal Household. According to an ex-employee the Marine blue Land Rover was used at the Italian estate for the first twenty years of its life, mostly by the boys. Then it turned back to the Hogewal 17, in the Hague, where it once showed up in pristine condition as a shiny new Land Rover. In 1995 it looked a bit different though. The Stable’s head coachman got the keys of a somewhat battered and well used example, full with scars and scratches. Even though some paintwork had been redone with a brush, the car was good enough to become the official car for the coachman for another three years.
Based on Paleis het Loo, the Land Rover was now used as a daily driver. It pulled a horse trailer with ease and was used to inspect all the grounds around the palace. The Veluwe region is the Netherlands’ finest area of scenic beauty. Dutch hills, covered with forests, sand drifts, steppes and heathlands, became its playground. No secret shadow license plates this time, just a regular Dutch registration was used by the Royal Stables.
After 23 years of active service to the Royal Family and Royal Stables the Land Rover was sold to a private party for only seven hundred guilders. From 1999 till 2005 the car spent its time in the Eindhoven area, before it was sold to a father and son who happened to live at the Veluwe. For years it was only used for weekend trips and the typical Sunday drives around the area. During an annual periodic inspection the car failed the test and ended up in storage. The idea from the father and son was to restore the car to its former glory, but gladly they never did.
Major overhaul with preservation in mind
We pulled the Land Rover Series III 88 Metal Top out of its retreat and took it to the Heritage Cars workshop. The dust-covered ‘barn find’ was complete and luckily the storage facility had kept the car dry and solid. It was the perfect base for a preservation project and so we did. The engine ran, but the clutch failed. A major overhaul followed, but conservation was key here. The undercarriage, drive train, chassis and engine compartment were dry ice blasted. This helped us to inspect all areas thoroughly. We checked all components for rust, damage and repairs. Overall the car turned out to be in an exceptionally good condition. The original chassis remained while we fixed some of the earlier repairs and some rusted areas. Not shown on the photos is a brand new canvas hood.
We replaced the clutch, braking system, exhaust and fuel system. The original interior was no longer with the car, therefore we completely renewed it. Seat heating was added to make the car a four-season companion. A major service made the engine and gearbox run smooth again. According to the maintenance card of the Royal Stables the engine consumed a liter of oil every 800 kilometers in period, and it still does. On its Dutch registration 94-70-HB it is fully ready to brave the sandy roads of the Veluwe, but Tuscany is familiar too to this car.
A Series Land Rover like this can be used everywhere around the globe in the following decades. We see the car’s Royal Dutch heritage as a bonus to the next caretaker. It is a great story to tell. Apart from the history, this is a beautiful Series III Land Rover with a warm patina, a solid short wheelbase chassis and very reliable running gear. Rarely does a Land Rover feel as good as this one.
Price on request. Call us for an appointment and test drive, or otherwise simply reach out if you have any questions regarding this Land Rover, shipping or our other services.