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New Bentley Motor Car for HM The Queen

Windsor Castle, 29th May 2002

Queen's Bentley 02

Franz-Josef Paefgen of Bentley Motors shows the new Bentley State Limousine to HM The Queen

Bentley Motors chairman and chief executive Franz-Josef Paefgen presented the new Bentley State Limousine to The Queen at Windsor Castle on 29th May 2002. 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.
   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.

The Queen's Bentley 2002 LS

The new Bentley, designed to run on LPG and specially built for the Queen's use on State occasions, photographed at Windsor Castle, 29th May 2002

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.
   The new Bentley State Limousine will be used extensively during The Queen's Golden Jubilee Tour. The first official journey was on Tuesday, 4th June when the car took The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh from the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral, London to a Banquet at London's Guildhall in the presence of the Lord Mayor of London, Mr Tony Blair, Prime Minister and many other dignitaries.
   The Bentley State Limousine has been built in the workshops of Bentley Mulliner, the specialist division of Bentley Motors. With an array of technical and coachbuilding skills at its disposal, Bentley Mulliner provides a wide variety of bespoke services for its customers ranging from exotic veneers inlaid with personalised marquetry to the latest entertainment and business office facilities.

The Queen looks pleased as she receives the new State Bentley

The Queen looks pleased as she receives the new State Bentley

The plate fixed inside the new Bentley showing the names of 34 staff involved in the construction of the new car.

The Technical Story
Crewe, 16th May 2002
Courtesy Bentley Motors

Although the Bentley State Limousine is derived from the latest Series Two Bentley Arnage, the engineering challenges it posed often bore no relation to those of any conventional car. Built by a Bentley-led consortium of British motor industry manufacturers and suppliers to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, it will be presented as a gift to The Queen in time for its first official duties on June 4. Designed for a minimum lifespan of 25 years and 125,000 miles, it is expected to be The Queen's principal transport at state and ceremonial occasions.
   Without the untiring support of dozens of suppliers and contractors, the project could not have been realised. The major partners joining Bentley Motors in the consortium are Mayflower Vehicle Systems (bodywork), Leoni Wiring Systems (Electrics), TWR Group (trim packaging), Radshape (brightware), Ricardo PLC (powertrain) Intier (interior trim substrates) and MSX International (structural analysis and validation). Bentley's responsibilities extended to the design, styling, chassis and construction of the car. The Bentley team has also devised, commissioned and overseen the project from start to finish.


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.
   Uprated air-conditioning is also fitted to ensure the vast rear cabin stays cool in the hottest weather, and without the benefit of airflow over the car while on ceremonial duty. The average speed at which the car will travel at processional occasions is around 9mph, though this may fall as low as 4mph. As a result of exhaustive computer modelling and testing at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) in the UK, a system has been devised that produces a large and slow moving mass of cool air, distributed silently about the car.

Use of CAD Techniques

As soon as the styling of the car had been decided, the designers set to work seeing how it could be realised using both the latest CAD techniques and by dissecting a standard Bentley Arnage. One weighty problem was retaining sufficient rigidity within such a heavy car without resorting to unattractively thick pillars. As the first Royal state limousine to use monocoque construction rather than the body on chassis method of the Phantom series of Rolls-Royces, the pillars are stressed members and are required to do a lot more than merely support the roof. Once this problem was resolved by detailed computer analysis of the performance of certain high-grade steels, attention turned to the execution of the rest of the design.


Just some basic statistics give an idea of the size of the challenge involved. 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, not only 728mm/29 inches more than an Arnage, but also upwards of 1.3metres/ 4.3 feet longer than that of an average sized family saloon. Most daunting of all for the engineers was a car with a likely kerb weight of 3390 kg/ 7474 lbs some 1400kg/ 3086 lbs. ­ a family saloon ­ heavier than an Arnage.

Power and Performance

Powering the Bentley State Limousine is a modified version of Bentley's new 400bhp, twin-turbo 6.75-litre V8 engine that will make its debut in the recently launched Bentley Arnage R, and, 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). Modifications have been made to the air boxes to allow them to be fitted under the bonnet, while 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.
   The engine drives a standard four speed GM 4L80-E gearbox, as found on the Arnage, which directs power through up rated driveshafts to the rear wheels.

Body and Suspension

The suspension for the Bentley State Limousine is by classical double wishbones at each corner and has been carefully honed by Bentley chassis engineers to provide the right balance of low speed ride quality for processional events and high speed stability.
   The rear doors, hinged at the back rather than the front to facilitate easier egress, required extensive work before a hinging system could be found that would cope with their weight, package effectively and allow an extraordinary 81 degree opening.

Meeting customer requests

It would be understandable to presume a car such as the Bentley State Limousine is brimming with every electronic gadget available. In fact the customer's requests have been quite specific that the car should not be filled with such items.
   Nevertheless, the highly specialised role the car will play has necessitated the fitment of a large number of components vital to the execution of the Head of State's duties.
   Inside there is a glass division between the front and rear compartment that can be lowered by its passengers from a console mounted between the seats. An intercom is also fitted.
   Both rear seats are height adjustable so passengers are seen at the same level and squarely within the rear side window. Both rear windows can also be operated from either rear seat. Naturally the nature of any security equipment fitted to the car is not for public consumption.

State Bentley - Full Sized Model

The State Bentley - A full sized model used for design purposes prior to its completion


Our thanks to Bentley Motors for the above pictures and information

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