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Her Majesty's Wheels

Queen Elizabeth II and her new Bentley State Limousine

Queen Elizabeth -  Bentley State Limousine
Queen Elizabeth at the presentation of her new royal 'set of wheels'

Windsor Castle, 29th May 2002... Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Franz-Josef Paefgen today presented the Bentley State Limousine to The Queen at Windsor Castle. Presented on behalf of a consortium of British based automotive manufacturing and service companies, the Bentley is a gift to The Queen in recognition of her Golden Jubilee year. The occasion marked an important milestone in the history of Bentley Motors, and signals the continuation of the Crewe tradition of supplying fine, bespoke and beautifully crafted cars for royal occasions. The design and manufacture of today’s Bentley however has been a complete contrast. Uniquely this car has been designed for State duties, it is also the first ceremonial Royal vehicle to have been developed using the latest computer aided design techniques and will be the first ever Bentley in the Royal fleet.

Queen Elizabeth -  Bentley State Limousine
Franz-Josef Paefgen presents the Bentley to Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth -  Bentley State Limousine
The new Bentley State Limousine -
scheduled to stay in service until the year 2027

Work first began on the Bentley State Limousine in the spring of 2000 after the proposal to build a Bentley for The Queen, as part of the celebrations for the Golden Jubilee, was first presented to royal officials. This was not the first time that Bentley’s craftsmen and women have been involved in building a Royal car. The most recent, in 1987, was a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI ‘standard limousine.’ However, this was preceded by a presentation of a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI State Limousine to The Queen in recognition of her Silver Jubilee year. This project was funded by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The car was a variation of an existing Rolls-Royce Phantom VI model, which had been adapted to accommodate a higher roofline and larger windows for State use.

Although the Bentley State Limousine is derived from the latest Series Two Bentley Arnage, the engineering challenges it posed often bore no relation of any conventional car. The ‘glasshouse’ design of the rear cabin was an area that posed questions few design teams have ever faced. With such a large rear cabin and so much glass, the car will potentially be subject to huge solar loadings or in other words the build up of heat from the sun which, left unchecked, would swiftly result in intolerable interior cabin temperatures. Normally this issue would be at least partially addressed by fitting heavily tinted glass but The Queen was keen that visibility both into and out of the car was compromised as little as possible. The solution was the fitment of laminated glass in all windows with a reflective coating sandwiched between the two layers. This allowed a tint of just 15 per cent and will be barely noticeable inside or out. The tint on the roof panels is 40 per cent.

Queen Elizabeth -  Bentley State Limousine
The final model of the Bentley State Limousine.

Queen Elizabeth -  Bentley State Limousine
By request of Queen Elizabeth II, the new State Limousine
is equipped with as little electronic gadgets as possible.

At 6220mm/ 249 inches, it is over 800mm/32 inches longer even than a standard Bentley Arnage, while its 1770mm/70 inches height dwarfs that of the 1515mm/60 inches Arnage. Its wheelbase is 3844mm/154 inches, 728mm/29 inches more than an Arnage. Most daunting of all for the engineers was a car with a likely kerb weight of 3390 kg/ 7474 lbs some 1400kg/ 3086 lbs heavier than an Arnage.

Powering the Bentley State Limousine is a modified version of Bentley’s new 400bhp, twin-turbo 6.75-litre V8 engine with 616lb ft/ 835 Nm of torque, endowing the State Limousine with an impressive turn of speed right up to its electronically limited top speed of 120mph (193km/h). A larger alternator is fitted to cope with the added demands of the electrical system. Capable of running on liquid petroleum gas (LPG) will not only extend the range of the car but will also dramatically reduce its output of emissions.

Queen Elizabeth -  Bentley State LimousineQueen Elizabeth -  Bentley State Limousine

The new Bentley State Limousine will be used extensively during The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Tour. The first official journey will be on Tuesday, 4th June when the car will transport The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh from the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

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