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Rolls-Royce recalls cars after explosion

Safety concerns: The custom built Corniche convertible, Rolls-Royce's latest model, is at the centre of a fuel-related recall.

US safety authority investigation prompts recall of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars

Rolls-Royce logo15 May 2001

ROLLS-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars Limited has recalled over 500 of its luxury cars after a brand new vehicle exploded in the United States.

The explosion occurred at a Michigan dealership after a mechanic filled a new Corniche convertible with its first full tank of petrol.

Fuel vapours were released into the passenger compartment and ignited by the electric current from the power windows when the mechanic pushed the switch to close the rear window.

The mechanic and a bystander suffered minor injuries in the explosion, which blew out the windows and damaged the convertible's roof and interior.

An investigation into the incident by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) prompted the recall, which affects Rolls-Royce Corniche and Bentley Azure, Continental T, R and SC models built during 2000 and 2001. Only 539 of these vehicles were made, with 408 being sold in the US.

A Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars spokesperson said none of the affected cars were sold in Australia during 2000 or 2001, but further checking revealed one Continental SC and two Continental R's were sold locally last year.

Following an inspection of the damaged car at the company's assembly plant in Crewe, England, engineers have developed a solution to the problem by adding an extension pipe to vent all vapours outside the vehicle.

The British manufacturer has been forced to recall other models in the past year for fuel related problems.

Bentley Arnage Red Label models built between June 2000 and January 2001 were subject to improperly manufactured fuel feed and return hoses. If not correctly positioned they could leak fuel into the engine compartment and result in a fire.

Bentley Arnage models built between October 1999 and February 2000 were subject to a similar problem, where the fuel return pipe in the engine compartment could wear through as a result of repeated contact with the exhaust manifold. Once again resultant fuel leakage could cause a fire.

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