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Bentley Golden Jubilee (2002)
Bentley State Limousine for H.M. The Queen

All over the world when traveling on official engagements Her Majesty The Queen, inevitably at least for part of the journey used a Rolls-Royce motor car. The huge state limousines on chassis Rolls-Royce Phantom V and Rolls-Royce Phantom VI to most people seem to be the perfect sort of official transport for the Sovereign. Hence it sometimes is a mild surprise to learn that this has not always been the case. For some 50 years the Daimler Company of Coventry continued to provide cars for the British Monarchy until well into the reign of H.M. The Queen.

It is to be expected that as a result of much discreet maneuvering, from the year 2002 onward Bentley Motors will be granted the right to display the Royal Coat of Arms together with the words "By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II motor car manufacturers". In May 2002 an all new car will be presented to H.M. The Queen to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. Thus for the first time ever a Bentley motor car will have been accepted as State Limousine. The car is conceived by a Bentley-led consortium of British Motor Industry manufacturers and suppliers as a gift to H.M. The Queen. This reminds of the first Rolls-Royce Phantom IV in 1950 - that later became State Limousine - having been a present to then H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth and H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A quarter of a century ago during Silver Jubilee the idea of SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) to present a Rolls-Royce Shadow II for her personal use was communicated to Her Majesty. Reportedly her reply has been that it seemed a rather expensive car for her private enjoyment and perhaps a car that would have wider appreciation by being used publicly might be a wise choice? There was no choice but a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI and duly chassis number #PGH101 was delivered; approximately three times as expensive as a Silver Shadow II….

The new Bentley Golden Jubilee will be a unique car, designed by Bentley design director Dirk van Braeckel in conjunction with exterior stylist Crispin Marshfield who started work on the project in February 2000. Neither appearance nor physical proportion bear any relation to any other Bentley product. Due to its space efficient monocoque construction a considerably lower roofline could be achieved while preserving the requisite interior height (whereas the Rolls-Royce Phantom showed body on chassis configuration). Opaque panels over the backlight of the car are removable, allowing the choice between an increased level of privacy or an improved view of the occupants from outside the car. When not in use the panels are stowed in the boot.

As regards engine and powertrain Bentley Motors decided not to reveal details. It is pure speculation whether or not under the bonnet there will be the usual 6 ¾ litre V8-engine. It would be a first, when a State Car was propelled by a turbocharged engine. Neither has been announced who will apply the Royal Coat of Arms to rear doors and bootlid. When this work was done on the car delivered for Silver Jubilee 24 years ago (24 years is no error - indeed industrial action delayed delivery for more than a year!) C.G. Francis, heraldic artist by appointment to H.M. The Queen, was already at pensioner's age.

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In „Royal Rolls-Royce Motor Cars" Andrew Pastouna stated: "To acquire the Royal Warrant of Appointment is a notable achievement, but in most cases it does little for sales. However, to lose the honour usually conveys to the general public an impression of a lowering of standards by the concern involved which can be measurably bad for business." In other words tremendous damage to Rolls-Royce' image is a result once the „State Car No. 1" in the United Kingdom shows the Bentley radiator.

(3 Photos courtesy of Bentley Motors Ltd.)

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