Princess Special Six

The Special Six version of the Princess was a perfect range-topper…

And thanks to Stephen Harper, we have some new images of the design themes for its side graphics.


The sleekest of the sleek

The Princess had been on sale a mere two years when the Special Six Automatic made an appearance on the marketplace. As special editions went, it was nothing out of the ordinary – extra equipment, additional trim, and a full length Webasto sunroof. As 1970s special editions went, this was was pretty top drawer. However, there was a serious side to the Special Six – ever since the name change from 18-22 Series in late 1975, and the subsequent bad press the Princess received (simply for being produced by a government controlled car company), the new car was given the task of upping demand for autobox straight-six Princesses.

But why? By the end of 1976, it was clear that in manual form, the six-cylinder Princesses had developed a healthy appetite for driveshafts, and there was an underlying design fault at the root. The simplest solution was to withdraw the manual versions from sale while the engineers rushed to get a fix into production. The Princess Special Six Automatic was, therefore, concocted to drive buyers into self-shifters. In the end, the solution was to re-mount the engine!

According to the Leyland Princess website, its equipment tally was as follows:

· HLS seats available in all colours.
· Rear passenger courtesy lights.
· Wooden dashboard insert.
· HLS wheel trims and chrome rim embellishers.
· Standard black paintwork.
· Unique silver coachlines.
· Full length Webasto sunroof.
· Limited to a production run of 1200 cars.

Actually, it was a sensible decision, and offering the auto-only constriction as a positive was actually something of a master-stroke. As can be seen from the accompanying sketches by Stephen Harper, a fair amount of work went into the configuration of the side graphics, with some very bold options considered. In the end, the stripes chosen to go on the Special Six were quite understated in comparison with what could have been.

More interesting is the sketch below – also dating back to the same period. Clearly Harper was keen to use a six-light design to increase airiness. If nothing else, it predicted the side styling of the later Ambassador…

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

8 Comments on "Princess Special Six"

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  1. David 3500 says:

    I knew someone who used to own a BL garage in the 1970s and they said that 500 examples of the Special Six Automatic were built.

    However, their own particular example did not have the Webasto sunroof, or any sunroof for that matter, but definitely did have the Black paintwork and special badging on the bootlid.

  2. jason18tc says:

    Wow, what a good looking car with the six-light configuration, add a hatch and what could have been!
    I’d love to see one in the flesh (A special six) are there any left?

  3. Mark Pitchford says:

    @ jason18tc – “What could have been” – the Ambassador, surely?

  4. Tony Cooney Tony Cooney says:

    Here’s my Special Six:

    Tony

  5. Michael Jolly says:

    Thats a lovely looking Princess there Tony 🙂

  6. Jemma says:

    I always thought they were such pretty cars. Not advanced looking, since I was still a little kid when the ambassador gasped its last, but just pretty. Something a little bit different and special (in the not dribbling during PMs questions sense of ‘special’ of course).
    I’d love another classic.

  7. ronnie says:

    what a depressing pile of rubbish,the “princess”looks like a cross between a peageot,at the front,and a semi detatched house at the back.ive noticed reading my real life crime magazines,the “princess”was a favorite car for peadophiles.the rover sd1 was such a better car.

  8. Kev says:

    Going on the internet is a favourite pastime for Paedophiles, but that doesn’t make all of us Paedo’s. Stick to your crime mags.

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