A Car Fit For a King

The Palace bought a La Salle in 1938, but where is it?
Mystery of the ‘missing’ royal car

BUCKINGHAM PALACE is tight-lipped about a beautiful coupe it bought from Czechoslovakia in 1938, writes Eric Dymock. It was discovered during research into a new book on Skoda by the authors Ivan Margolius and Charles Meisl, but their requests for information from the royal mews met with no response. The car was ordered from Carrosserie Sodomka in Czechoslovakia, but its recipient and subsequent history remain a mystery.
“It is possible that it was bought for the Duke of Windsor,” Meisl said. “Or it may have been a gift for another royal family. Either way the palace isn’t saying.”
Sodomka constructed bodies for other makes besides Skoda, and the stylish royal convertible was built on an American La Salle chassis. The shape followed contemporary French coachbuilders’ style with faired-in headlights, flowing wings and chrome “streamline” decoration.
The Windsors’ preference for large American cars, instead of the rather staid Daimlers in which the royal family had ridden since the turn of the century, may explain the palace’s reticence. As Edward VIII, the duke took delivery of two Buicks, built in a Canadian factory, within a month of George V’s death. The break with Daimler was explained by the king’s wish to encourage empire trade.
Skoda Laurin & Klement, by Ivan Margolius and Charles Meisl. Osprey Publishing, £25.
The Sunday Times 15 November 1992