A Car Driven By A Princess

Since her tragic death last August, Princess Diana's beauty and grace has been used to raise money for her favorite charities, and to sell a variety of other memorabilia.

It seems that anything touched by the princess' glamour suddenly has become salable, CBS News Correspondent Allen Pizzey reports.

If you're looking for a used car, one antique dealer suggests an 18-year-old Ford Escort. Normally, such a car would fetch about $900. However, this particular used car was once driven by Princess Diana. The salesman, Keith Lawson, hopes to get a few million dollars for it.

The Ford, which Lawson calls "the royal Escort," even sports a hood ornament in the form of a leaping frog that was an engagement present from Prince Charles.

"It was an engagement present from Prince Charles, and the idea was that you kissed the frog, and it turned into a handsome prince," Lawson said.

Lawson, an antique clock dealer, has a passion for Princess Diana collectibles. Lawson said he bought the car for his daughter, because he wanted a princess' car for his own little princess.

"Everything that was Diana's seems to have a certain excitement. I mean, the charisma of this car is unbelievable. It feels [like] Diana's," he says.

According to Lawson, Diana drove the car for two years, with Charles and even a young Prince William as passengers.

After paying $10,000 for the car at an auction three years ago, Lawson built a special glass-sided garage for it. To accompany the purchase, he bought a wax bust of the princess from Madame Tussaud's museum and set up a display for passersby.

"I was really pleased with myself, because I got Diana's car on show, and the public was enjoying it," Lawson says.

Last year, when the princess was killed with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, in a fatal car crash in Paris, mourners laid flowers at the glass garage.

Lawson decided that the wax figure was distasteful after Princess Diana's death. Now he keeps the wax head in a cabinet in his clock shop.

"It was a mark of respect to Lady Diana," he explains.

Unable to get insurance for the car because its value had soared, Lawson decided he had to sell the car. He advertised the sale of the "royal Escort," and received some surprising responses.

The current bid, Lawson says, is $1.5 million.

An American casino wants to mount the car on a dollar slot machine. However, Lawson feels that fate would be disrespectful of the princess' memory.

"It isn't the money - it's the importance of where the car is going," Lawson explains.

So if you want to give a used car a good home, call Keith Lawson - before the price goes up.

Reported by Allen Pizzey
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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