You Can Bid on the Dalai Lama’s Own 1966 Land Rover

It was his daily transportation for 10 years and has since been restored

The Dalai Lama's Land Rover Series IIA Is Up for Auction
Picture the Dalai Lama cruising the Himalayas in this Land Rover Series IIA.
Theodore W. Pieper ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
By Alex Lauer / July 12, 2019 6:15 am

You can’t make a list of the most iconic 4x4s of all time without including the Land Rover Series IIA. That means when auction houses get a hold of them, in pristine condition no less, they’re going to fetch a hefty price. 

However, this particular 1966 Land Rover Series IIA 88, set to sell at RM Sotheby’s Auburn auction during Labor Day weekend, isn’t just any ol’ Land Rover. From 1966 to 1976, it was the 14th Dalai Lama’s daily transportation.

For those not up on their Tibetan Buddhism, yes, that would be the current Dalai Lama. (Yes, the one who said any potential female Dalai Lama in the future should be “attractive,” though he has since apologized.) According to Silodrome, he never personally drove the car, but he was transported in it in “India, Nepal and throughout the Himalayas” where the vehicle’s legendary off-road capabilities were necessary. 

What happened to it after 1976? Silodrome says that it fell off the map, only to resurface in 2005 when it was brought to the Land Rover specialists at West Coast British for restoration. The mileage recorded at that time was just under 70,000 miles. Apparently, the shop was aware of the unique pedigree and took special care in delivering an authentic restoration, from the rebuild of the original engine to a color-matching paint job. 

The odd backstory doesn’t stop there, though. The last time this 4×4 went up for auction, it wasn’t at a prestigious sale but on eBay. The 2007 listing included a “three day Buddhism study session with the Dalai Lama himself in India” and a “personal meeting with actress Sharon Stone at The Missing Peace Art Exhibition in San Francisco.” We’re not sure if the winning bidder took advantage of either experience, but they did make off with the off-roader for just over $82K.

The next owner won’t be as lucky. RM Sotheby’s has the estimated selling price set between $100K and $150K — with no meet and greets with the Dalai Lama or Sharon Stone included.

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