In the mid-1970s, Woodall Nicholson bravely took on the Princess…
IT has to be said that the Princess would not be the first car to spring to mind if considering a stretch-conversion, not least due to its rising shoulder-line, which would surely result in rather awkward lines. Well, coachbuilders Woodall Nicholson were not daunted: after all, the Princess was the natural successor to their previous Landcrab-based limousine, and to be fair, the finished product was far better-looking than one might have expected it to be.
And of course, with these cars being aimed primarily at (provincial) funeral directors there was a hearse-bodied counterpart; most of these have met long-since met their doom on the UK’s banger racing circuits, although one example which turned up on the Autotrader website in March 2002 had suffered a quite different fate!
The limousine was marketed as the Woodall Nicholson Kirklees, taking its name from an administrative district located in the vicinity of the company’s Halifax premises. However, in popular parlance it would inevitably be known as the Stretch Princess, and even provided the inspiration for the name of a little-known rock band, formed in London in the late 1990s and apparently still going strong.
As lead singer Jo Lloyd explains on the band’s website: ‘In England, there’s a car called an Austin Princess. It’s an ugly, funny car that, for some reason, they made into a limousine so it became a ‘Stretch’ Princess. It sounds glamorous and yet it’s kind of tacky.’ The Stretch Princess website also amusingly describes the Kirklees as ‘a luxury edition of the UK’s answer to the AMC Gremlin’. Hmmm…
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