HSH (His Serene Highness) Prince Rainier, better known as the husband of Princess Grace Kelly, had a thing for cars. Hot, fast cars.
His princely collection is on display in Monte Carlo. It’s a fitting spot for a car museum. After all, since 1929, Monte Carlo has been home to the famous Monaco Grand Prix. But you don’t have to be in town for the big race to see sexy cars. Just walking the streets of Monaco is like strolling through a moving car museum. Bentley. Rolls. Lamborghini. You name the hot car, you’re likely to see it zipping by on the rolling streets of Monte Carlo.
If you miss the cars driving around the streets, just hop in a cab and head to the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Stroll around the square and you’ll feel like Bond, James Bond. If only you could summon the valet to bring you one of those Ferraris for the ride back to your hotel.
The Princely Car Collection
But I digress. We are here to talk about the Prince and his cars. There are about a hundred of them on display inside the museum at the base of Castle Rock, the shore outcropping that is home to the royal palace. The royal car collection was moved there in 1993 after the Prince outgrew the palace garage.
On display is a stunning variety of cars. There are the ones you would expect to be in a royal collection—the Bentleys, the Rollses, and the Maseratis. And there are some that came as a surprise, including a few Chryslers, Fords and Lincolns. And, of course, there’s a section that houses a smattering of the Formula One race cars that scream through the streets of Monaco each year.
Albert Continues the Princely Car Tradition
The current Prince, HSH Prince Albert II, seems to be bit of a tree hugger. The royal couple toured the town after their wedding in an emission-free Lexus LS 600h Landaulet. A Belgian coachbuilder spent more than 2000 hours converting the car to be fully emission free. That car also is on display in the museum.
Albert has his own car dreams and he has been changing up the collection. A few years ago, he auctioned off some of the more mundane members of his dad’s collection, including the car my Grandpa used to drive, a 1964 Dodge Dart.
So, if you happen to find yourself in Monte Carlo as I did awaiting to board the Regent Seven Seas Voyager for a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, you have lots of options. You can stroll along the harbor wondering who owns the mega-yachts moored there. You can try your hand at blackjack in the casino. Or you can just day dream of a royal life that includes tooling along the winding streets of Monaco in a 1952 Nash Healey convertible, just like a prince would.