VOLO – The Volo Auto Museum is auctioning off some of its most prized automobiles Friday to make room for new exhibits.
Museum officials plan to sell the 1979 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith II that Prince Charles and Princess Diana rode in during the princess’ first visit to the United States in 1985. It will be sold in a no-reserve auction Friday on eBay along with Jon Bon Jovi’s 2003 BMW 745 LI, Groucho Marx’s 1973 Cadillac DeVille, and a selection of other celebrity and movie cars.
The highlight of the collection is the silver limousine, which was once valued at $2 million, but is expected to sell for about $150,000, said Brian Grams, director of the Volo Auto Museum.
The Bristish Embassy in the U.S. purchased the luxury vehicle new and had it retrofitted for the Royal Family and other officials. The embassy spent three years and $200,000 armoring the car with features such as a 600-pound, inches-thick windshield and bullet-proof side windows, according to the museum. The side windows were sealed against a possible toxic gas attack.
During the 1985 visit, anti-British IRA supporters were protesting against the couple, the Daily Mail reported.
The royal couple was spotted in the Rolls-Royce on several occasions, including during a visit to the White House to meet President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan. It was on the November 1985 trip that Princess Diana, who was 24 at the time, danced with actor John Travolta at the White House, according to media reports.
The vehicle’s past is backed up by historical documents, including a diplomatic log book detailing the royal couple’s visit. The log shows the car also was used by a number of other dignitaries, Grams said.
The Volo Auto Museum purchased it from the Berman Museum of World History in Alabama about two years ago.
“We just thought it was an armor-plated Rolls-Royce that had been embassy-owned,” Grams said. “But after digging through the documents and doing some research, we figured out what the car really was.”
Volo Auto Museum also owns a 1996 Rolls-Royce used by Princess Diana during her last visit to the U.S. Museum officials decided to keep that one because of its Chicago connection, Grams said.
The auction was timed to coincide with the 27th anniversary of Princess Diana’s first visit. A portion of the sale will be donated to CHILDREN with CANCER UK, a British charity dedicated to fighting childhood cancer that was inaugurated by the princess in 1988.
Friday’s auction will make additional space available for new exhibits at the museum.
“We’ve got more cars than we can fit in there right now,” Grams said.
Other cars going under the hammer Friday include the 1990 Chevrolet Lumina NASCAR from the Tom Cruise movie “Days of Thunder” and the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO used in “Delirious.”
About 300,000 people visit the Volo museum annually. The museum, 27582 Volo VIllage Road in Volo, is primarily known for its collection of Hollywood vehicles, including cars used in famous movies and owned by celebrities.