The car's the star - by Royal Appointment

JOHN McKIE

It has one careful owner, 46,000 miles on the clock and will be sold on 11 December. But before any parents get any Christmas present ideas for the first-time driver, they should bear in mind that the car is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante and that the previous owner is the Prince of Wales.

The Prince has donated the Aston Martin, one of only 22 in the world, to a Sotheby's auction, with all proceeds going to the Prince's Charities Trust. The 400 horsepower 150mph racing green car was originally completed in 1986 at the Aston Martin headquarters in Buckinghamshire to "the Prince of Wales's specification".

It features extra soundproofing and a jar in which HRH kept sugar lumps to give as treats to his ponies. It is expected to fetch between pounds 100,000 and pounds 130,000 in the auction of classic cars and motorcycles at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London, on 9 and 11 December.

The auction also features what is expected to be the most expensive motorcycle ever sold.

The MV Augusta 500/4 was ridden to Grand Prix victory by John Surtees, as well as Gary Hocking, John Hartle and Mike Hailwood, and is one of the most successful machines ever. Sotheby's expect it to realise at least pounds 200,000, more than double the pounds 90,000 world record.

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