Buckingham V12 Sports Saloon ( Also known as the Buckingham Car )
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Dissatisfied with what the major car manufacturers were offering, one man decided to build his own resulting in one of the most extraordinary vehicles ever produced that we see here today.
This one-off creation by Millionaire Martin Anthony Harvey and a team of ex Aston Martin engineers, the Buckingham V12 Sports Sedan is an amazing mix of designs from the Bugatti Royale through to the Neo Classic range of vehicles such as Excalibur, Zimmer & Panther’s it is commonly mistaken for.
In the late 70’s the original mastermind of the Buckingham, Martin Harvey, bought a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow MK2 however from the onset had numerous problems with the quality of the paint finish and rust issues as well. Over the course of 2 years sending his Rolls Royce back to the dealer for repair work, eventually he received a refund on his purchase. This left Harvey with a problem – what to buy next. After looking at every major and minor vehicle manufacturer he came to the realisation that building his own vehicle would be the only way to get exactly what he wanted – complete perfection and opulence.
Initially working on the car himself including fabricating the chassis and acquiring the running gear by allegedly stripping down a brand new Jaguar XJ12, Harvey called in a number of specialists, mainly former Aston Martin Lagonda employees on a part-time basis to hurry the build process along. Eventually he employed them full time with up to eight people working on the Buckingham at any one time during the various stages of the build. These specialists included panel beaters and metal workers, welders, fabricators, upholsterers, auto electricians and automotive painters. Even with this full time workforce, the build was a lengthy process taking two years to design with early mock-up fabrication and three years to complete – the custom grill alone took reportedly 400 hours to produce. When the body work was finished, the Buckingham was painted in a deep two tone, burgundy and grey.
The quality of craftsmanship that was put into the Buckingham, is as you would expect from Aston Martin Lagonda craftsmen, second to none. The bespoke chassis was made from high tensile steel with stainless steel box tubing for the box frame with coachwork in hand formed double-skin and filled, aluminium panelling. All the bright work including the grill, headlight surrounds, door frames, handles and hinges was formed in brass and triple chromed for longevity and quality while the Swan hood emblem was allegedly made by a prominent British arctician which stands proud of the bonnet. The emblem is of the Buckinghamshire County – Harvey’s hometown. The golden grill badge is said to have been created by Garrards, the Royal Jeweller. Both emblem and grill badge are said to have cost £30,000 to make.
Under the two-piece centre hinged bonnet in which the catches are electrically engaged from the driver’s seat lies the heart of the Buckingham, England’s own Jaguar 5.3 litre fuel injected V12 engine (‘HE’ – high efficiency variant) mated to the usual GM automatic 3 speed gearbox. Most of the componentry remains the same besides the custom radiator and ‘heat fan’ atop of the engine for extra cooling duties as most Jaguar V12’s suffer from heat soak due to the normally cramped engine bays – not so in the Buckingham.
Moving along the car, the rear gull wing doors open to reveal the luxurious interior. The rear doors are mounted on stainless steel & bronze Rose-Joint bearings while the nitrogen filled support struts with stainless steel rods ease entry into the back seat. The doors top aperture is somewhat reminiscent of a Ford GT40 with the door being apart of the roof over the seating area making it easier to access the car. Apparently, the rear doors were designed to ease entry into the rear seat for Mr Harvey’s mother in law. Whether these can be called ‘mother in law doors’, we are unsure. All doors open and close with a very reassuring heavy clunk almost entirely to do with their excessive weight and build quality.
Around the back of the Buckingham, the spare wheel is mounted to the boot lid. Opening the boot reveals ample room of thick carpeted space for multiple suitcases. The boot is counterbalanced so that it can be opened easily with the same nitrogen charged gas struts supporting the extra weight. To the right side of the boot is the oversized (and heavy) fuel cap, also triple chromed brass reflecting the overall quality and finish of the vehicle.
The interior of the Buckingham is of the highest quality and luxury with full Connolly grey leather lining not only the modified Aston Martin seats but also the doors and headliner accompanied by thick wool carpet. The dashboard features all necessary gauges that are set in rosewood panelling with black leather lined fascia. Other more unusual features include an onboard telephone system with an 80’s corded ‘brick’ phone at the front (one was placed in the rear however has been taken out by a previous owner), fully operational air-conditioning & heating, central locking and a 16 speaker Hi-FI system – incredibly advanced for it’s time.
While to some degree the Buckingham can be thought of as a chauffeured driven vehicle, what underlies an incredibly smooth ride hides a somewhat surprising handling ability of a vehicle that weights over 3 tonne. The Jaguar sourced and modified front & rear suspension with ‘anti dive geometry’ in combination with the Jaguar limited slip differential and Jaguar disk brakes; gives the Buckingham a surprising somewhat sporty nature. Care must be taken however as at 7 metres long, 2 metres wide, wheel base of 4.4 metres and a turning circle greater than most small roundabouts (this has been tested by us on numerous occasions) – The Buckingham easily eclipses the largest American land yacht with ease.
Martin Harvey kept the Buckingham for many years after it was completed selling or consigning it to a classic car dealer in Bournemouth having only completed just 348 Miles since new! During that time, it had a somewhat unfavourable review by the old Top Gear (pre Clarkston, Hammond and May) where it was compared to the Rolls Royce Mr Harvey had previously owned – obviously the reviewer, Chris Geffrey, was a pure Rolls Royce connoisseur. The construction of the Buckingham can be seen briefly before its outer skin was hand made over the structure with Martin Harvey being interviewed as well.
Later history on the Buckingham is unknown besides sporadic appearances around Buckinghamshire and London by the second owner in which they enjoyed the car up until they sold the Buckingham having added 11,500 onto the odometer. It then made another appearance at the Brookland’s Museum Auction in August 2016 in which presumably resulted being imported to Australia nearly two years ago and then sold to the current owner in Queensland.
Buckingham V12 Sports Saloon - $POA
Odometer: 12,000 Miles
Engine: Jaguar 5.3Ltr V12 - 3 Speed Automatic
Body: High tensile steel chassis, stainless steel box section body fixed to main chassis, Aluminium body with double skinned wings – 4 door with rear rose jointed gull wings supported by gas struts
Engine: Jaguar 5.3 Litre ‘HE’ V12
Transmission: GM TH400 (common Jaguar Automatic) 3 Speed
Suspension: FRONT, extended Jaguar independent front with ‘anti dive’ characteristics. REAR, Jaguar independent rear ‘hybrid’
Differential: Jaguar LSD from Jaguar XJ12
Brakes: FRONT, Jaguar ventilated disk (XJ12). REAR, inboard Jaguar solid disk
Electrical: 12V - Base Jaguar for instruments and ECU, Custom made wiring loom including electric bonnet latches