Blog : Clubbed to death

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Kevin Davis

Princess Club 100 Special was never marketed as a new car.
Princess Club 100 Special was never marketed as a new car.

The Princess Club 100 Special is surely the rarest of rare Princesses, rarer, even, than the much sought after Wolseley. The Club 100 was an internal Austin-Morris product brought about by the need to provide a car for their top 100 performing dealer principals, known as the ‘Club 100’. Rewards typically included holidays abroad, etc.

At the end of 1980 the award was to be a top of the range car. At that time, the dealer network was still split very much between Austin Morris and Jaguar Rover Triumph and in the latter case it was a simple matter of awarding a Rover Vanden Plas SD1. However, it was felt that the Austin-Morris guys deserved better than ‘just’ a Princess 2200 HLS, so the ‘100 Club’ special edition was created. It was based on the 2200HLS, with the following changes to standard specification:

  • Automatic transmission.
  • No vinyl on roof or rear quarters, instead the enamelled Princess crown endowed the rear quarter pillars.
  • Two tone paintwork: Pewter metallic over Romano Purple (the latter was not a production colour at any time). The split was bordered with a black coachline below the car’s waistline.
  • Velour seat facings in Spanish Rose colour scheme with matching carpets (this colour ‘revived’ from the mid Seventies). The sides and backs of the seats, together with the door trims, however, were trimmed in black vinyl, and the seat backs did not have the usual HLS map pockets.
  • Britax electric sliding sunroof with glass panel.
  • Smiths ‘Servoglide’ electric window lifts on all four doors.
  • Smaller 4-spoke steering wheel as normally fitted to Allegro and Metro HLS models.
  • Radiomobile AM radio/stereo cassette player with Dolby noise reduction.
  • Unique 14 inch ‘Rimbellishers’ fitted to the wheels (with a square profile, as opposed to the normal rounded items fitted to the HLS). Some cars were fitted with the optional alloy wheels.
  • Club 100 members also received a special tie and brief case.
Bespoke Club 100 interior.
Bespoke Club 100 interior.

37 Club 100 Princesses were built and all eventually ended up on dealers used forecourts. Unfortunately the survival rate is low as few second or third hand owners realised what they were driving. As a result only four are known to survive and here, one of them is about to succumb to the same fate as the majority of the others.

Neglected and sorry looking Club 100.
Neglected and sorry looking Club 100.

Years of neglect and being left outside have left this car wanting and almost every aspect needs attention. Having had three owners in the past five years, none of them have been able to summon the enthusiasm required to restore this car to its former glory; the interior has suffered particularly from a leaking sunroof which has rotted the driver’s seat and the resulting dampness has disintegrated the roof lining. It’s not pretty, and because of its bespoke nature replacing the interior will be impossible.

Add to that the fact that every body panel needs replacing as well as a rotten floor and the task becomes frighteningly apparent, and with parts like wings costing over £150 each now, the cost of restoration will spiral far beyond the value of the car.

It’s such a shame that this car will be broken up but as no one seems to have neither the finances nor the enthusiasm to sort it, it will at least provide rare and useable parts to keep many other Wedges on the road.

Club 100 interior
Club 100 interior
Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

39 Comments

  1. I am surprised no-one has shown any interest in saving, let alone restoring this very rare Princess. A real shame to see it follow the same fate as the majority of the other examples.

  2. its a crying shame,but surely not beyond repair?i know its not a desirable classic italian but there must be someone brave enough to take on a labour of love?and how good it looked new!

  3. I never knew of this edition’s existence! I love the paint job, it really suits the shape of the car. Pity about the steering wheel…

    I can understand why no one would be brave enough to set about repairing it though. Isn’t there a major component in the suspension of the Princess that is now irreplaceable that means that every Princess is now living on borrowed time?

  4. I agree, the standard steering wheel would be the first thing to replace, but that really looks like pure Allegro and looks like it’s solid plastic. Wouldn’t a nice leather one have been more in keeping?

    I can understand why they went away from separate Austin and Morris variants but why, oh why, did BL ever get rid of the Wolseley?!!

  5. The Princess looked ok without that vinyl rear quarter- they should have sold more without it. There was a period when they weren’t selling the 2200 with manual transmission, and so special editions were sold to try and keep the volume up. The Special Six Automatic was the other.

  6. The more this car was prodded about the more holes appeared. The floor below the rear seat is completely rotten, all four doors are rotten, both rear arches and both front wings are all rotten. Sadly, it’s just too far gone to consider repairing. The engine will be saved, though, as this car has only covered 65,000 miles.

  7. “I can understand why they went away from separate Austin and Morris variants but why, oh why, did BL ever get rid of the Wolseley?!!”

    Because it looked like a pig. No really that snout they put on them looked terrible. Looked a lot like someone had found a grille in a breakers attached to something totally different and screwed it on to a wedge.

    The Princess though was probably just if not a higher prestige name than Wolseley (the name of a builders merchants and maker of agricultural equipment). Up until around that time the queen mum was still driven about in an Austin Sheerline “Princess”.

  8. Now, this is a sad day indeed.

    I would kill to have a Princess down here in Australia and that one would have been the bee’s knees to own.

  9. DEATH OF A PRINCESS.

    That car chase in ashes to ashes series 2 springs to mind after it crashes.
    Gene Hunt is just good with the one liners.

  10. I did see one of these lovely Princesses some time back, it had a front window self winder kit fitted, love the plum seats and carpet, nice that the car has been recovered and will see it in its full glory in the future. Regards Mark

  11. Never heard of these Club 100 editions till now. The car looks good without the vinyl panels on the rear pillars. Nice colour scheme (never heard of Romano purple obviously). However the interior colour and velour looks very like the decor of a 1970s Indian restaurant. Fitting of the period though?

  12. Just when you think you know of all the models,engines and colours produced then this comes along.Always sad when cars like this are too far gone to save.

  13. Poor thing. As the lucky owner of a (Slighlty) more solid 100 club it’s a shame to see that one being broken but I can understand the economices of spending thousands on it would put almost eveyonr off. Where is it rovamota, if it’s going to be broken then I’d love some bits.

  14. What a shame, never knew this variant existed! Would take a real fan with some real money to save it. I myself am holding out for a Wolseley wedge one day, but I know of only 3 in the country (New Zealand).

  15. well i thought i new all there was to leyland and then this gem pops up all i can say is if it exists it IS WORTH SAVING after all its one of austins hidden gems nice one.

  16. Maybe a mint HLS can be specced up to a 100 Special by adding the electric goodies and a new paintjob? In the same way that a few ‘unfashionable’ Ferrari 250GTE’s were rebodied as GTO replicas in the 1990’s.

  17. Well it seems it’s all change for this Club 100. The owner has had a change of heart and decided to put it in storage with a view to restoring it to its former glory.

    I am now holding my breath…

    Kev.

  18. Okay relax you lot. Yes I’m the current owner of this car and yes it is now in dry storage.. and work will commence on this car around March 2013. I will be taking it back to the shell and I shall repair as many of the existing panels as possible. 95% of the work will be done by myself.

  19. Surprised how good the Club 100 looks – I used to think that vinyl rear quarter panels on the Princess were a must!
    Think the interior should have been plusher with velour also on seat sides, seat backs and door cards.

  20. Anyone know what happened to this particular car? I’d like to rescue it! Please let me know. Anyone?

  21. I am NOT parting with this car at any cost. Its now partially stripped. Still a very long way to go and its going to need a lot of work. But I can assure you all, this car IS BEING SAVED.
    Best regards, LeeLee Allen

  22. HI YA’LL I know im coming to this page a bit late in the day but cdoes anyone know what ended up becoming of this car. leelee are u still the owner? still on the website even? would be really interested to know

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