An iconic vehicle owned by Britain’s late Queen Elizabeth II could soon be plying the roads of Dubai. This was revealed by UAE-based motoring historian Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan.

The 2016 Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography LWB, which went on sale in Britain a few months ago, was snapped up by billionaire Indian industrialist and philanthropist Yohan Poonawalla, who intends to bring it to the UAE.

“It is an iconic car in a number of ways,” said Luqman. “It was used during the UK state visit of former US President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama in 2016. It is very rare for a US President to travel in any other vehicle but the heavily armoured Presidential state car known as ‘The Beast’. However, in this case an exception was made because it was driven by the Duke in the grounds of the Windsor Castle.”

Video footage of the car beamed on TV screens worldwide showed Obama stepping off the Air Force One helicopter and sitting in the royal Range Rover right next to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was at the wheel. Seated in the back were the late Queen and first lady Michelle Obama.

Luqman, who is an expert in royal cars and has previously discovered and restored the long-lost Rolls-Royce Phantom V belonging to UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has been working closely with Poonawalla to curate his prolific collection for years. He said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the car was on sale.

“As soon as I saw the listing, I called Mr. Poonawalla,” he said. “Within a few hours, he called me and asked me to get on a plane to go inspect the car. I immediately flew down to London.”

Pinching himself

As soon as he landed in London, Luqman made his way to Bramley Motors, which was selling the car. “As I sat in the car to inspect it, I was pinching myself in disbelief to make sure I wasn’t dreaming,” he said. “It was a vehicle that was part of historic moment and time, and here I was investigating it. It was something that needed to be preserved.”

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 that were installed for access for the comfort of the Queen.

Luqman then explained what he looked for when inspecting the vehicle. “I looked at the condition and the service history,” he said. “To validate the claims, I also looked at the chassis number and engine number to verify. This will give you a full history of the vehicle. It still has the police siren sticker under the hood”

For him, the most remarkable factor was that the vehicle was sold with its original number plate. “The plate was iconic as it was all over the media,” he said. “It is unusual for the palace to sell a car without taking away its number plate first. But in this case, the car was sold as is, along with the number plate.”

Momentous occasion

After his inspections, Luqman sent a full inspection report to Poonawalla. Within two weeks of the advertisement being published, the car was purchased for 224,850 pounds, equivalent to Dh1.04 million. The industrialist, who visits UAE to participate in motoring events, could soon get the car to the UAE to drive it around here.

“I am delighted to have acquired this remarkable piece of automotive history,” said Yohan Poonawalla. “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.”

This is not first Queen’s car bought by the renowned collector, who also owns a 1979 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI Limousine used by the late Queen on state occasions.

For a royal car historian like Luqman, who also works as the Curatorial Director for the Geneva International Motor Show, this was a momentous occasion. “I am always on the lookout for cars with history, provenance and pedigree,” he said. “This vehicle is as historic as it could get.” Luqman has also previously discovered in Portugal a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit belonging to the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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