These Two Limousines Embody The Success Of Siegfried & Roy

Siegfriend (foreground) and Roy (background) in the 1965 Vanden Plas Princess Hagerty Marketplace

Las Vegas is one of those places that changes you, and that’s by design. The gambling connection is obvious, but the decadent displays of hospitality are everywhere from hotels with world-class amenities to cultural ambassador-worthy restaurants, and entertainment that never fails to inspire. The same applies to the cars living in Las Vegas, at least for two owned by the legendary magical duo known as Siegfried & Roy.

As you’ll soon see, these two Vanden Plas Princess limousines are properly Vegas because of their nose jobs. While the blue Princess from 1967 sports a custom grille with a Rolls-Royce style emblem and “Spirit of Ecstasy” hood ornament, the white 1965 Princess apparently lost the emblem over time. No matter their current state, the Rolls-Royce upbadge (as it were) makes sense for sensibilities in the City of Sin. It doesn’t hurt that the Roller-style look works well on any car crafted by a coachbuilder, especially one with the English credentials of Vanden Plas.

1965 Vanden Plas Princess limousine
Vanden Plas

The original grille is certainly acceptable for places with less to prove than Vegas, with a more finessed grille texture and an understated, body-colored shell. It even has a bit of Bentley flare, as the shell has a fluted face. But the Princess’ body contours are more like that of an SUV: The greenhouse lacks taper, instead choosing to move straight back from the base of the A-pillar to the beginning of the trunk. The look is more utilitarian, and this practical design even won over The Beatles as they were ergonomically whisked away from their fans.

The Vanden Plas Princess’ practical sheet metal made it perfect for the magic duo of Siegfried & Roy, either as a prop in their show or a flashy commuter vehicle for the entertainers who embodied the magic of Las Vegas. Because these two vehicles performed different tasks, their design was altered accordingly. The white 1965 Vanden Plas is likely the more appealing example to most enthusiasts.

Siegfried & Roy’s “street car” was reportedly restored in the 1980s in Germany, and the exterior presents well enough to be a show piece in any light. The Rolls-Royce grille conversion will convince most Las Vegas tourists of an elevated lineage for the star performers. Still, the whitewall tires exhibit a yellowing that is likely a sign of extended storage periods.

But this was likely indoor storage, as the interior appears to be in excellent condition, complete with a vintage color TV that could be the same age as the vehicle’s restoration. A wet bar lies between the rear seats and a sliding glass partition from the driver’s cabin, while rich wood and pale leather feel classically British. Take a closer look under the hood and you’ll see a Rolls-Royce grille emblem affixed to the valve cover of the Austin D-series engine. A curious location for that emblem, but the engine is reported to be a non-runner at this time.

Siegfried & Roy’s blue 1967 “Show Car” bears the telltale signs of being a prop for the duo’s Vegas show. While the paint looks acceptable on stage (in the photo closer to the top of this article) it’s clear that the light of day is less kind to this particular Vanden Plas Princess. There’s a significant gash in the coachwork, and the paint looks dulled by oxidation. Look closer at the rear quarter panel and it’s clear the Vanden Plas Princess was modified so a wild animal could fit in its cargo hold.

It appears a body shop made incisions at each side of the vehicle, pulled up on the trunk area to increase its internal volume, and then built filler panels to “blend” in the work. The rear window aperture also seems to be shortened, presumably to ensure wildlife can’t exit from a location unmonitored by Siegfried & Roy’s staff. While the conversion isn’t likely to raise any eyebrows at the expertly lighted performance of Siegfried & Roy, daylight proves that show props can live a hard life.

Siegfried once noted this vehicle was owned by actress Greta Garbo, but that cannot be verified. If true, the mind can only wonder what Garbo thought of the modifications done to the inside of her former limousine. Aside from the driver’s seat, the rest of the compartment has been modified for transporting an aggressive feline onto a Las Vegas stage. The pictures speak for themselves, especially the scratches where the front passenger seat once resided. But the reupholstering of the driver seat and door cards in a brown naugahyde material point to a need for durability with a dash of elegance. Too bad that elegance is only an illusion, aimed at audience members seated yards away from this Princess.

And does an illusion truly work if it sounds like an Austin D-series engine at idle? Apparently, this Vanden Plas Princess made a silent introduction on stage, as it was likely converted to an EV for the transition from Garbo-worthy transportation to Las Vegas show prop. The massive lead-acid batteries are only overshadowed by the size of the front mounted powertrain, while the dirt and corrosion present adds credibility to the claim this vehicle is also in non-running condition. Perhaps someone who has revived depreciated golf carts will find this under-hood experience familiar. Or maybe anyone who rings up the still-in-business Quick Charge Corporation can be brought up to speed with a mere visit to their website.

1964 Vanden Plas Princess 1100
1964 Vanden Plas Princess 1100Vanden Plas

But buying and restoring either the white “street car” or the blue EV “show car” from the estate of Siegfried & Roy has merit, especially in America where names like Austin and Vanden Plas are overshadowed by the clout of a Rolls-Royce. I can imagine a conversation with visitors to a British car show, where they make a Rolls-Royce remark and the new owner uses it as an opportunity to mention the heritage of both Vanden Plas and the magic of Siegfried & Roy.

These cars embody the uniqueness that is American car culture, with coachwork and body modifications as “apple pie” as slot machines and lounge shows at one of the most famous cities on the planet. This is something you cannot replicate with the successor to the Princess limousine, based on the wholly conventional Austin Princess compact family sedan. Once Austin changed gears, Vanden Plas had to reinvent modern cars in the only way they knew how: chrome, curves, wood, leather, and coachbuilding.

Siegfried & Roy 1967 and 1965 Vanden Plas Princess
Hagerty Marketplace

It’s a change not unlike the Siegfried & Roy entertainment experience. The duo made famous for blowing away audiences with wild felines in magic acts started their career on a cruise ship, one that wasn’t terribly thrilled with their decision to let a live cheetah on board. Their dedication to their craft took them from Germany to Las Vegas, and both Vanden Plan Princess limousines are a testament to their legacy. But times have changed, and the passing of both Siegfried (2021) and Roy (2020) denotes a change in guard that leaves these two limos twisting in the wind, waiting for new owners at the Hagerty Marketplace.

This pair absolutely needs new benefactors, those who can embrace their previous owner’s heritage but let their spirit soar once more on the road. The white 1965 Vanden Plas appears to be an easier restoration and is currently at a $4000 high bid on Hagerty Marketplace. The blue 1967 Vanden Plas needs specialist attention and an owner who can appreciate its EV bones and show prop engineering. It’s currently going for a $2500 bid on Hagerty Marketplace, and shares the same high bidder as it’s 1965 brother. Could they meet the same benefactor when the auction ends?

We can only hope both EV and gasoline Vanden Plas sell to that same high bidder, and that these two limousines will one day impress participants in American car culture as they did when working for two legendary entertainers.


Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark it. To get our best stories delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletters.

Read next Up next: The Cybertruck Commands a Premium, but It’s Less than You’d Think


    I don’t know about Garbo owning an Austin limo, but I do have a photo of her in the back seat of my old 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud

    The gaps on the white car are not great and the blue one being torn apart is not pretty either. Both are going to need some attention.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *