Yohan Poonawalla Acquires The Queen’s Historic Range Rover Which Transported The Obamas

Images: Getty, Yohan Poonawalla Collection

The late Queen’s historic Range Rover has been purchased by billionaire Indian industrialist and philanthropist Yohan Poonawalla. The renowned collector of historic vehicles snapped up the royal car after it was advertised. He was quick to move before interest in the royal car piqued from buyers around the world contacting the seller in a bid to acquire the remarkable piece of history on wheels.

Her Majesty The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh Range Rover in OU16 XVH

The 2016 Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography LWB 4.4 Litre edition wearing a Loire blue with ivory upholstery was used during the UK state visit of former US President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama in 2016. Video footage of the car, beamed on television screens across the world, showed Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh at its wheel, with US President Barack Obama sitting next to him and in the back were seated Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II and the First Lady Michelle Obama. The Anglo-American connection of this royal vehicle resonates with audiences on both sides of the ‘Pond’, it is a mobile monument celebrating the ‘special relationship’ between UK and US.

Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke & President Obama and Michelle Obama at Windsor Castle in 2016

Commenting on the purchase Yohan Poonawalla said, “I am delighted to have acquired this remarkable piece of automotive history. The fact that it still retains the same registration number OU16 XVH, as used by the late Queen, turned out to be an added bonus”.

Ivory Leather Interior

It was a very rare occasion when the US President, who travels in the heavily armoured Presidential state car known as ‘The Beast’, stepped off Marine One helicopter and sat in the royal Range Rover, as it was driven by the Duke in the grounds of Windsor Castle on 22nd April 2016. Specifically designed for royalty, bespoke features on the car included a police siren, covert police emergency lighting, fixed steps on both sides and a set of grab handles were installed to facilitate easy access to the Queen. “Land Rovers have always been part of the Royal family’s DNA,” motoring journalist Quentin Willson had once stated.

Loire Blue or Dark Sapphire Blue—the preferred color of UK royals

The house of Windsor has had a long association with the Land Rover and Range Rovers, in particular the Queen and the Duke, who owned and drove several models starting from Series 1. Along with Jaguar, Land Rover was the only automotive manufacturer to hold all three Royal Warrants from the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. The BBC in an article entitled ‘Queen Elizabeth II: A life in Land Rovers’ states, “throughout her life, the Queen was pictured behind the wheel of a Land Rover”.

Milometer reveals it was sparingly used

When cars are decommissioned from royal household, it is a common practice to remove special features, and the registration number in particular doesn’t accompany the car. Remarkably, it wasn’t the case with this car, as it retains the same iconic number plates. It also retains the police siren warning sticker under the bonnet, along with special grab handles used by the Queen, and a royal coat of arms sticker is affixed to the windshield.

In 2016, it was prepared by the Land Rover Workshop at Gaydon and till date it has only clocked only 18206 miles. When on sale this vehicle created global headlines and received much press worldwide, and it continues to be in the news since its acquisition by the present owner.

Siren warning sticker in the engine compartment

He also owns a 1979 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI Limousine which belonged to the late Queen and was used on state visits including her tour of Sweden in 1983. His collection includes not only the latest Land Rover Defenders but also a 1951 Series 1 specimen which was owned the Maharaja of Kutch, very similar to the one the Queen drove, and now this royal Range Rover completes the collection.

As one of India’s leading collector of royal cars, he has assembled a sizeable collection of historically significant motorcars. The ‘Yohan Poonawalla Collection’ comprises of cars previously owned by the who’s who, including cars of erstwhile Maharajas, Nawabs, Sheikhs, Presidents and even the Pope.

The Poonawallas (L-R: Tania, Yohan, Michelle & Zayan) at Hampton Court With Queen's Phantom VI HMQ 001 and other Maharaja cars 

A plethora of Ferraris and other supercars punctuate the collection. Last year he became the first Indian ever to feature in the global ranking of the ‘Top 100 Classic Car Collectors of the World’ published in the KEY by Europe-based Classic Car Trust (TCCT). Later in the year, he went on to win the prestigious ‘Classic Car Ambassador of the Year Award’ at the Historic Motoring Awards by Octane held in November at the Dorchester in London.

Yohan Poonawalla with his Land Rovers, posing with a Series 1 and the new Defender

This was on the back of his announcement as the ‘Collector of the Year’ at the Geneva International Motor Show Qatar (GISMQ) held in Doha in October last year.

Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan

Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan is a UAE-based author, curator & motoring historian. A member of the Society of Automotive Historians(USA) & Guild of Motoring Writers(UK) he wrote 'Automobiles of the Nizams'


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