• Prince Charles’s well-known ingenuity in service of the environment led him to have his Aston Martin DB5 Volante converted to run on an E85 blend that is, in part, derived from surplus wine.
  • He was behind converting the queen’s Royal Train to run on cooking oil, too.
  • The heir to the throne told the BBC about the car as part of an interview on his environmental initiatives.

    UPDATE 10/12/2021: Prince Charles is getting major media attention this week for his Aston Martin that has been converted to E85 blended in part from surplus wine and cheese. That’s because he talked it up in a BBC interview that was a lead-up to a United Nations climate summit, which starts on October 31.

    Prince Charles has found a way to have his cake and eat it, too.

    The Prince of Wales is known for his devotion to environmental causes, so it was naturally an issue that he was tooling around in a vintage Aston Martin. Queen Elizabeth gave him the car for his 21st birthday, and he was determined to continue to drive it, guilt free.

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    Engineers at Aston Martin had discovered that their cars could run on an E85 blend that is derived in part from surplus English white wine (albeit mixed with a whey). Still, they urged the prince not to switch out his fuel. “The engineers at Aston said, ‘Oh, it’ll ruin the whole thing,’ ” he said, according to The Telegraph. (“Runs on wine” actually means that it runs on a blend of gasoline and bioethanol, which can be derived from many sources including waste biomass such as surplus wine.)

    Anwar Hussein Collection

    Prince Charles drives his then wife, Diana, in his Aston Martin in 1985.

    Anwar HusseinGetty Images

    Charles wasn’t about to take no for an answer. “I said, ‘Well I won’t drive it then,’ so they got on with it and now they admit that it runs better and is more powerful on that fuel than it is on petrol . . . And also, it smells delicious as you’re driving along.”

    A vintage sports car that runs on wine? Prince Charles may have created the ultimate status symbol.

    Queen Mother And Charles Clarence House

    Prince Charles says goodbye to the Queen Mother after a lunch for her 86th birthday.

    Tim GrahamGetty Images

    He also insisted on retrofitting the Queen’s Royal Train with a less sexy alternative fuel. “It took me a long time to battle to get them to run it on used cooking oil,” Charles said. “Which actually in the end worked quite well.” But the maintenance workers might quibble with that, he admitted. “They say it clogs up the engine or something.”

    For the Prince of Wales, it’s imperative that we all start to make these changes. “We’re running out of time because the necessary action hasn’t been taken, has it?” he said of climate change. “That’s the problem.”

    If it’s Prince Charles’s actions we’re all taking—namely, using wine to power automobiles—the public might find it easier to make some eco-friendly changes.

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