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.
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.
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.