Princess Diana was undoubtedly the biggest celebrity of the 1990s. While she was a member of the Royal Family, she was at least shielded from the worst excesses of the paparazzi, but once she separated from Princes Charles in 1992 it was a free-for-all.
In 1994, she was quite literally the most photographed person in the entire world. And, for a few months that year, she drove this very Audi Cabriolet.
She was presented with it by Audi in March 1994. It was a suitably stylishly elegant car for the most stylishly elegant woman on the planet, finished in the rare shade of Gomera Pearl, with parchment leather upholstery, and cream carpets.
It caused considerable controversy in the British press that she should be driving a German car. But, by all accounts, she loved it. It did, though, become instantly recognizable, as hundreds of photographers would descend on it every time it drove out of Diana's home. By July of 1994, it was back with the supplying dealer, and sold on to the next owner.
He and the owners that followed were well aware of the car’s provenance, so the mileage has kept down and it has been meticulously maintained. It goes to auction next month at Silverstone Auctions’ NEC Classic Motor Show sale, with a hefty estimate of £50,000 to £60,000 ($61,586 to $73,903). That’s at least ten times the going rate for the best examples without a celebrity connection.
The Audi is one of a collection of cars with royal or celebrity ownership history that is being sold at the NEC auction. Among them are an armored 1988 Mercedes 560 SEL owned by the King of Jordan; a 1980 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith used by The Queen's sister, Princess Margaret; Elton John's 2005 Rolls-Royce Phantom, and a 2012 Bentley Mulsanne that was used by The Queen during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Even though it does seem pricey, there will be big interest in the Audi from collectors of royal cars, and of Princess Diana memorabilia. It could fly.