ROYAL FAMILY MCLAUGHLIN-BUICK NO 05
One of the two McLaughlin-Buicks used by the Royal Family for their 1927 tour is back in Canada. In December 2015 the car came home to the Lang Collection in Chepstow, Ontario. The other McLaughlin-Buick (not currently in running condition) is on permanent display at the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa.
The Royal Tour of 1927 was a rather spontaneous adventure as the Prince of Wales (later His Majesty King Edward VIII) had purchased a ranch south of High River AB in 1919 (which he owned until 1962). The Prince commissioned a ranch house to be built in 1927 and announced his intention to spend some time in the new residence on the EP Ranch. The British and Canadian governments had previously arranged a Royal Tour of 1917, to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of Confederation but that tour was cancelled with the outbreak of the Great War.
So a decade later, when the Canadian Government learned of the princes’ intended visit, they hurriedly arranged a five week tour with the style-conscious Prince of Whales and Prince George (later King George VI) , to commemorate Canada’s Sixtieth Anniversary. Colonel Sam McLaughlin, President of General Motors of Canada was contacted and an order placed for two seven passenger open touring cars, to be used by the princes for ceremonial occasions, including the opening of Toronto’s Union Station, the Prince’s Gates at the CNE, and the Peace Bridge, Niagara.
When Colonel Sam explained that no open touring cars were being built in Oshawa in 1927, he was instructed to build them anyway. Accepting the challenge, Canadian designers and craftsmen adapted a prototype 1928 long wheelbase chassis (128 in) with the fabled Buick Master, valve-in-head, in-line 6 cylinder power plant developing 77 hp to build these two magnificent automobiles. They weigh in at 4226 lbs. In practice one vehicle would be used at an appearance with the other vehicle being sent ahead ready for the next scheduled stopover. These cars were painted desert-sand with turquoise stripes and upholstered in tan lizard skin. The two cars proved so successful that the Royal Family insisted on using McLaughlin designed and built cars for their visits to Canada in 1939, 1986, and 1994.
While the provenance of the museum car was well known having been retained by Colonel Sam following the Royal Tour before selling it to John Bulloch of Gananoque, the whereabouts of the second car was unknown. Several photographs of the vehicle over the years revealed it as both right and left hand drive at various times. Finally, a car proven to be the missing twin was sold through Bonham’s Auction in 2013 to a buyer from Austria. Later that vehicle was purchased from the Austrian owner and shipped back home to Canada
The Royal Family McLaughlin-Buick arrived with several volumes of documentation, providing ownership history from 1933 to present. Examples in the files include:
- As mentioned, the motor vehicle registry documents back to 1933.
- A complete volume relating to the research of the Ottawa museum car in preparation for its restoration, including correspondence and pictures.
- Letters between Windsor Castle and their Archives, including a letter from the desk of the Queen Mother.
- Samples of the original lizard skin upholstery.
- Another volume documenting the restoration.
The engine did not operate upon its return to Canada; however, after many hours of labour, it now runs and the Royal Family McLaughlin-Buick is mechanically fit, has had its safety inspection, and has been licensed. The car is now certified to be as good as or better than the day it left Sam McLaughlin’s factory.
The Royal Family McLaughlin-Buick made its Twenty-First Century Canadian public debut on July 23, 2016, at the Lang Collection Open House, hosted by the Chepstow Lions Club, in support of local community projects.