The Queen's Bentley

Self-important presenters, celebrity-obsession, unforgivable technical errors and corporate pomposity put me off BBC coverage of the Diamond Jubilee. I turned to Sky (as so often nowadays when the BBC is like listening to The Guardian) only to hear commentary on the Queen’s Rolls-Royce. In full frontal view they called the Queen’s Bentley a Rolls-Royce. It was almost as bad as calling the Queen HRH instead of Her Majesty. Somebody even told viewers the admiral on the Thames pageant was wearing a hat by the same maker as the one Nelson wore at Waterloo.

Would that be when he was catching the train to Portsmouth?

Aide memoire to TV presenters from The Complete Bentley (Dove Publishing Ltd, 2008)

2002 The Queen’s State Bentley

In 1952 Royalty changed to Rolls-Royces for state occasions. Daimlers, some of them grand tall smoky sleeve-valved Edwardians had been employed for generations, until devalued by the controversial Dockers. Half a century later on May 29, Bentley joined the ranks of formal limousines, when chairman and chief executive Franz-Josef Paefgen presented one to the Queen at Windsor Castle. He was representing a consortium of British based companies recognising Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee. The Queen’s father owned a Bentley when he was Duke of York, her uncles Prince George later Duke of Kent, and the Prince of Wales later King Edward VIII despite a liking for Empire-made Buicks, had been Bentley owners, but the new limousine was for state processions. Although unique, its basis was a Red Label Arnage, stretched lengthwise and upwards, with rear-hinged back doors that opened to 81 deg so that Her Majesty could alight walking upright. It was presented in time for official duties on June 4. Designed for a lifespan of 25 years and 125,000 miles, it was to be the Queen's principal transport for ceremonial occasions, but the greenhouse effect in the rear posed problems. Darkened glass could have been fitted to keep the temperature in check on warm days, but the Royal Mews pointed out that the Queen wanted to be seen. Not only that, one wanted to see out. The solution was laminated glass with a reflective layer, tinted only 15 per cent, which would be scarcely noticeable. The roof panels were dimmed by 40 per cent and extra air-conditioning ensured the rear cabin remained cool in hot weather. The design team had to bear in mind that on ceremonial duty the car could be going as slowly as 5 or 10mph so there would be no cooling airflow. The rear seats were adjustable for height so that the occupants could be seen at the same level squarely through the rear side window. Computer modelling, and testing at the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA), helped devise a system that distributed a large slow-moving mass of cool air silently about the car. Security arrangements that might have been responsible for the substantial increase in weight over the standard Arnage were not revealed.


INTRODUCTION 2002. BODY Limousine; 4-doors, 4 or 6-seats; weight 3390kg (7474lb). ENGINE V8-cylinders 90deg, in-line; front; 104.14mm x 99.06mm, 6750cc; compr 8:1; 298kW (399.62bhp) @ 4000rpm; 44.1kW (59.14bhp)/l; 830Nm (612.2lbft) @ 2100rpm. ENGINE STRUCTURE L410IT; pushrod overhead valves; central gear-driven camshaft, aluminium block and cylinder heads; Bosch electronic fuel injection and engine management; Garrett T048 turbocharger 0.75bar (10.88psi), intercooler; 5-bearing crankshaft. TRANSMISSION rear wheel drive; GM 4L80E Turbo-Hydramatic 4-speed automatic; final drive 2.69:1. CHASSIS steel monocoque with sub-frames; independent suspension by coil springs and wishbones; anti roll bars; adaptive electro-hydraulic telescopic dampers with self-levelling; hydraulic vacuum servo ventilated disc brakes, front 34.8cm (13.7in) dia, rear 34.5cm (13.58in) dia, dual circuit, ABS; rack and pinion PAS; 94l (20.67gal) fuel tank; 255/50 ZR 18 tyres 7.5J rims. DIMENSIONS wheelbase 384.3cm (151.3in); track 160.78cm (63.3in); length 622cm (244.9in) width 214.88cm (84.6in); height 177cm (69.7in). EQUIPMENT Glass division between front and rear, lowered from a console between the seats; intercom; security equipment. PERFORMANCE maximum speed electronically limited, 193kph (120mph); 64.5kph (40.18mph) @ 1000rpm.