On Her Majesty's Service: 2002 Bentley State Limousine

Click above to view the Bentley State Limousine in hi-res

After the previous owners at Vickers prepared the Arnage sedan just in time for Volkswagen to take ownership, it took Bentley another five years to come out with the Continental GT. But before the new generation of Bentley Continentals made their debuts, Crewe created a special vehicle called the Bentley State Limousine. But before you run out to your local Bentley dealership in pursuit of what no one else at the country club will have, consider that Bentley made only two examples, exclusively for HM Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002. Believe it or not, however, this was the first time in all its nearly ninety-year history as one of Britain's most prominent luxury automakers that Bentley was asked to make a limousine for the crown, as previous limos had been created by Daimler and Rolls-Royce. The distinction allowed Bentley to utilize the distinguished "By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II" label with the Queen's coat of arms, which the company flashes proudly in Rolls-Royce's big chrome face.

The State Limousine took two years to develop and is based on the Arnage, but fitted with unique bodywork styled by Bentley and crafted in-house at its Mulliner coachbuilding division. The exterior is visually distinct and more old-fashion than the Arnage, and features an enlarged greenhouse, with opaque rear window panels that can be installed for privacy or stowed in the trunk for parade visibility. The State Limousine also features suicide rear doors and measures some three-feet longer, ten-inches taller and six-inches wider than the Arnage, and is equipped with armored bodywork and windows, plus a blast-proof floor and an airtight cabin. All that means an 8,818-pound curb weight, pulled around by the same 400hp 6.75-liter V8 as used in the long-wheelbase Arnage RL. Stylistically, the State Limousine looks something like a cross between the Hongqi HQE and a London taxi – you can decide for yourself in the gallery below, where you'll notice the vehicle's deceptive dimensions and the obviation of the license plate frame for the Queen's own motor-carriage. Somehow we don't think she'll be pulled over.

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