Another British Leyland product like Guilty Pleasure: the Princess

Princess 2000 HL

Another English car that we serve as a Guilty Pleasure: the Princess 2200. Michiel Willebrands once saw it at a campsite in the south of France and couldn’t let go of that special car.

My first memory – and perhaps the only one, I just realized – of the Princess dates back to the mid-1980s. It was somewhere at a campsite on the south coast of England where I saw a matching, light brown car among the period-specific colored canvas tents. discovered which I could not immediately identify. Curious about the stranger and intrigued by the special wedge shape of the car, I was able to tell my parents not much later that I had seen a real Princess. My father probably muttered something about rusting English junk afterwards, but my interest in the model was aroused and never went away. That’s why I loved the article about the Princess 2200 HLS from an AutoWeek Classics of 2015; a Dutch gentleman who has been driving Princess since the 1970s and had the car converted from a four- to a five-door body.

Princess 2200

The Princess is a product designed by Leylands designer Harris Mann as a result of a collaboration between three ailing brands that were slowly rolling towards the abyss: Austin, Morris and Wolseley decided to sell the car originally born in 1975 as the 18-22 series after nine months. to be named Princess, an umbrella new brand of parent company British Leyland. A name with history, moreover; Austin already had a model with this name in the 1940s. Although it was expected that the car would suffer a qualitative drop or two in England, which was at the time sluggish, it was initially not so bad with the Princess. In fact, the renowned British magazine Autocar even found the six-cylinder 2200 HLS in 1977 to be the best car they had driven that year, although that required some chauvinism and creative point counting. Remember, the car was quite revolutionary for its time. Designer Mann calls the Princess the car that Leyland had to bring ‘into the modern age’ and that has remained closest to the original design of all the cars he has drawn. The enthusiasm for the Princess was overwhelming after its launch, until the aforementioned strikes and – inevitably – quality problems ruined the ‘Landcrab’ Austin 1800 successor.

Princess got a second life as an Austin Ambassador

Yet the Princess was given a second life in the form of the Austin Ambassador, which remained in production until 1984 and which, like the Princess, you now have to look for with a magnifying glass. I was of course completely unaware of that unfortunate history at the campsite some forty years ago. I saw a car that immediately fascinated me at first sight, as little Michiel I probably understood perfectly what Harris Mann had in mind: a car that was far ahead of its time, the car that would give British Leyland a golden future. Unfortunately it was not to be and there is little left of the British car industry. But I will never forget the sight of that brown Princess.

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