This beast of a car is one such surprise, emerging from its hiding after three years to remind people of the excess and the distinctive styling of the ’90s.
You could describe it as a good example of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” but one auction house wants you to look at it differently: this is a car that dared to be different, with links to royalty and the butt imprint of one of the most legendary boxers of all times. Glass half full, and all that.
This is a 1994 Range Rover Classic LSE converted into a limousine. It’s an end-of-the-line, soft-dash 1994 Range Rover Classic that’s been stretched and heightened by The Queen’s favorite coachbuilder because the 29th Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah wanted a special ride for his brother, Prince Jefri.
If you’re an auto enthusiast, it’s impossible for these two names not to ring familiar. The Sultan of Brunei is the owner of the world’s biggest and most impressive collection of cars, totaling more than 2,000 items and an estimated price tag of $5 billion. His brother’s is smaller and less expensive but a standout nonetheless.
Many of the entries in either fleet are custom versions of production series, like this Range Rover limo. So, when the Sultan reached out to Townley Cross Country Vehicles Ltd. asking for a limo SUV, it didn’t feel like an odd request. The company had been one of The Queen’s favorite coachbuilders and had already done similar customization work for other Middle Eastern clients.
It still took them nine full months to complete the conversion. The chassis was stretched 40 inches (101.6 cm), and the roof was raised by 8 inches (20.3 cm) to make more room inside. Two original Range Rover doors were added, offering easy access inside the newly created VIP space, as well as a laminated sunroof and a one-piece tailgate.
Speaking of which, despite offering plenty of room inside, the limo actually sits only three people in the back, in fancy leather armchairs. This is how you know you’re a true VIP when you don’t have to share your personal space with more than two people of your choosing, we guess.
The interior is pure ’90s glitz, from the red leather styling to the tech inside.
The exterior is painted Rolls-Royce Mason Black, while the interior is done in black-piped Oxblood Connolly hide, with Wilton carpeting and Burr Walnut embellishments. There are mahogany storage spaces, a couple of TVs, an upgraded sound system, AC, the works. Sure enough, the interior is ridiculous compared to what you get in a modern car, but back then, it was lit, as the kids these days would say.
Features include two electrically reclining armchairs and a matching business-style seat that doesn’t recline. There’s also a full electric glass panel divider, stereo and CD player, two 8-inch TVs with remote control, and a VHS recorder. You’re old if you’re reading this, and you’re thinking this was a very fancy setup. Sorry not sorry, it’s the truth.
The 9-month conversion reportedly cost between £135,000 and £155,500, not including the price of the donor vehicle. For perspective, that’s £331,000 or £382,500 in today’s money, or the equivalent of $404,000 or $466,500 at the current exchange rate.
The history of the Range Rover limo is muddled after delivery. In 2000, the Frankencar was back in the UK, under local ownership, with the Glasgow Car Company. That summer, the company rented it out to World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson, who was in town to fight Lou Savarese.
It was the ride that picked Tyson up at the airport and later drove him to Hampden Park for what would become the shortest bout in his entire professional career – so the limo became famous by association. Tyson reportedly “loved it,” as the rental company made sure to tell the media in blanket interviews that announced the fact that it would be listed for sale.
In the following years, the limo changed hands several times, even traveling to Denmark and staying there for a while, part of a larger private collection. It returned to native soil in 2020 and regained the original L23 PWT registration, being put in the care of Range Rover experts Bishop’s Heritage. It’s been kept out of the public sight because it was still part of a private collection, but that could change soon.
The owner has listed it with Iconic Auctioneers, with an estimated price of £30,000-£40,000 ($36,600-$48,800), not including taxes and the buyer’s premium. The clock reads just shy under 17,000 miles (27,400 km), and the latest MOT was in May this year, so it’s still road-worthy. The original 4.2-liter V8 engine is in place, as are all the finishes that the Sultan of Brunei initially asked for.
The Range Rover limo will go on auction on November 11, 2023, at the NEC Classic Motor Show Sale. Rob Hubbard, managing director at Iconic Auctioneers, says that the connection between the Sultan of Brunei and boxing legend Mike Tyson, along with the strangeness of the vehicle itself, will most likely translate into “huge interest from around the world in this vehicle.”
“This striking vehicle would be ideal for corporate ventures and promotional events or taking your extended family out to lunch,” Mr. Hubbard adds. So, here’s to hoping your family doesn’t mind sitting on the floor.