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Bentley reveals Queen's Golden Jubilee gift

First official pictures: Bentley's first ever state limousine.

Unlike the Rolls Royces used previously, the first Bentley State Limousine was uniquely designed just for The Queen

Bentley logo1 Jan 2002

BENTLEY Motors has revealed a full-size clay model of the specially built state limousine it intends to present as a gift to The Queen next year to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.

Conceived by a Bentley-led consortium of British motor industry manufacturers and suppliers, the all-new car will be the first Bentley to be used for state occasions.

While the car will be the first State Bentley, the tradition of Crewe-designed and built state limousines dates back over half a century to July 6, 1950, when a new Rolls-Royce Phantom IV was delivered to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Since then a further four Rolls-Royce limousines have been presented - two Phantom Vs and two Phantom VIs - the most recent in 1987.

The new Bentley State Limousine differs fundamentally from those previously supplied by Crewe in being a unique car, rather than a production car modified for state purposes.

It also bears no relation in either appearance or physical proportion to any other Bentley product, and has been designed with continual reference to and input from both The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and of course, the Head Chauffeur.

The major partners joining Bentley in the consortium are Mayflower Vehicle Systems (bodywork), LEONI Wiring Systems (electrics), TWR Group (trim packaging), Intier Automotive (trim engineering), Radshape (brightware), Ricardo (powertrain) and MSX International (validation).

Bentley Motors has been entirely responsible for the design, styling, chassis and commissioning of the car, and is currently assembling the limousine in a dedicated area of its Personal Commissioning department. It has also overseen the project from start to finish.

Work on the project began in February 2000 with Bentley design director Dirk van Braeckel working with exterior stylist Crispin Marshfield to a brief that required the car to appear both timeless and contemporary.

In line with Bentley design philosophy, it is arguably more flowing, rounder and sporting in appearance than previous state limousines and offers that critical timeless style within some of the most unusual and exacting packaging requirements of any road car.

One advantage enjoyed by the project team was its monocoque construction, compared to the body-on-chassis configuration of the Rolls-Royce state limousines. This much more space efficient design enabled the stylists to have a considerably lower roofline while preserving the requisite interior height.

This also means the entire transmission tunnel runs underneath the floor without encroaching into the cabin at all. And, thanks to rear doors that actually cut into the cant-rail, The Queen will be able to stand up straight before stepping down to the ground.

Another key design feature is that the rear doors are hinged at the back and open through nearly 90 degrees, allowing The Queen to face her audience and enjoy an unimpeded exit. The door itself has a considerably wider aperture than has been previously seen on Royal cars.

The rear compartment is configured for two principal occupants, typically The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, while two rear facing occasional folding chairs are fitted for additional passengers.

Removable, opaque panels over the backlight on the rear of the car allows occupants to choose between normal levels of privacy or having the covers removed to afford an improved view of the occupants from outside of the car.

And, in line with the need to provide the best possible view into and out of the car, the car's D and E-pillars have been carefully sited so The Queen is clearly visible between the two.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were formally presented with the design in May 2000, approving it with requests for only minimal changes. Since then work has continued to create, develop and validate the one-off vehicle in time for the Golden Jubilee.

The idea that The Queen should be offered a new State Limousine for her Golden Jubilee came from within Bentley Motors and harks back to her Silver Jubilee in 1977. Then the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) presented The Queen with the Phantom VI, which remains her first choice of transport on State occasions to this day and has covered over 125,000 miles in the interim.

The Royal fleet also retains the later (1987) Phantom VI and the two Phantom Vs, dating from 1960 and 1961.

The new Bentley State Limousine will be presented to The Queen in May 2002 and will perform its first official engagement in June 2002.

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