Hand-Picked for the World's Most Popular Royal, Princess Diana's Chica
Date: Saturday, August 18 @ 15:03:01 UTC
Hand-Picked for the World's Most Popular Royal,
Princess Diana's Chicago Rolls Royce Lands at Volo Auto Museum
VOLO, Ill., Aug. 17 -- From the Flying Lady on its hood to the double-R
emblem on its trunk, the black, 1996 Spur exudes understated elegance -- the
perfect conveyance for the 20th century's most luminous royal.
That's what Vernon Smith determined after he was contacted by the British
Consulate in 1996 to arrange transportation for none other than Her Royal
Highness, the Princess of Wales. Princess Diana would spend three June days
casting a spell on Chicago and Evanston. The black Rolls Royce with rich leather
seats took her from airport to hotel, symposiums, hospital bedsides and an
elegant benefit gala where she raised money for cancer research.
The car -- now on permanent display at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, IL --
played a key role in Diana's historic visit, a trip that would be among her last
to U.S. soil, as she perished in a Paris car crash 14 months later.
"Princess Diana's car has found its final destination here at the Volo Auto
Museum where it belongs," said Greg Grams, museum founder and owner. "When I
learned that this car was for sale, I knew it had to be where the public could
see it. There is no more perfect place for this car than right here."
Smith, a retired Rolls Royce dealer who lives in Lake Bluff, reacquired the
car from a Las Vegas woman who cherished it for many years. Grams bought the car
from Smith this month for an undisclosed price.
The car now rests in a regal space featuring portraits of the stunning
princess and numerous photographs taken during her triumphant Chicago visit. A
special exhibit preview is planned for media and invited guests at 10 a.m.
Friday, Aug. 24, at the Volo Auto Museum, 27582 W. Volo Village Road, Volo, IL.
The presentation will include a slide show and talk by Holly Rodgers of
Stuart-Rodgers Photography, which won the exclusive contract to photograph the
Princess' visit. Also on hand will be Northwestern University Assistant Police
Chief Daniel McAleer, who drove the Rolls Royce as Her Royal Highness' chauffeur
during her trip, as well as Smith, who hails from Britain and arranged the
transportation not only for Diana but for several royal visitors to the United
Rodgers, McAleer and Smith savor personal recollections and have mementos of
the historic Midwest visit of Diana, Princess of Wales.
"Suddenly you're driving on the tarmac of the airport and you're getting on
the tollway and the whole tollway is closed to everyone but you and the police
escorts," recalled McAleer. "You're driving this fantastic Rolls Royce, you look
in your rear view mirror and you have this incredible woman in the seat behind
Rodgers, McAleer, Smith and Grams will be available for questions after the
presentation. Light refreshments will be served.
The world-renowned Volo Auto Museum was founded in 1960 and contains roughly
300 Hollywood, vintage and muscle cars -- as well as an extensive military
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