Bentley Mulliner's ability to personalise even includes offering true one-off cars, unique in their styling both inside and out. In the past 10 years, over 20 such cars have left their workshop. They have included sports cars, limousines and 4x4s, for clients around the world. The most recent uniquely styled car was the Bentley State Limousine, specially commissioned for The Queen in recognition of her Golden Jubilee.
The car was designed from scratch in conjunction with the Royal Household, and was funded by a British-based consortium of automotive manufacturing and service companies. The full-sized model of the car was taken to Windsor Palace for The Queen's personal approval.
As the car is used by The Queen for State duties, Her Majesty was keen for maximum visibility into and out of the rear cabin. The glasshouse design is unique and, to stop heat soak, laminated glass with a reflective coating between the layers was used. A tint of just 15 per cent was allowed, barely noticeable to those inside or out. The tint on the roof panels is 40 per cent. A large additional rear roof panel can be fitted over the rear section to provide privacy when required. Uprated air conditioning is also used.
The rear doors are back hinged and open to almost 90 degrees, allowing The Queen to face her audience as she exits the car and allows for easy ingress and egress. The doors also cut into the roof area, allowing The Queen to stand straight before stepping down to the ground. Another unusual feature was the perfectly flat floor, 50mm higher than a normal Bentley limousine. Steps are built into the rear sills to aid entry and exit.
The State Limousine was furnished with dark blue leather upholstery at the front but, in the cabin, The Queen chose pale grey 'West of England' cloth. The cabin itself has a very restrained design.
The Arnage, Bentley's four-door model, forms the basis for a range of extended long-wheelbase limousines, produced by Bentley Mulliner. Extending the body by 250mm allows for large format computer or entertainment screens, or for a division to separate rear passengers from the driver.
Extending the body by 450mm, and heightening the roof by 100mm, gives even more rear passenger space, and would typically be chosen for state occasions or formal ceremonies.
The longest Arnage limousine has a 728mm extension. This provides maximum comfort for two passengers, although occasional 'fold down' rear facing seats (which may double as footrests) could be fitted.
This format could also see the fitment of a home cinema-style entertainment system, audio surround sound rear sunroof or fixed moon roof. The Paris show car (see above) was built around a 728mm extended limousine.
To cope with the extra weight and length, Mulliner limousines get uprated brakes and suspension systems. Even the electronic stability control is recalibrated to ensure that it behaves perfectly in its revised environment. Performance from an extended limousine is still extraordinary. The Paris Show car 728mm limousine, for example, sprints from 0-100km/h in 9.0 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 200 km/h. The massive torque, or pulling power, of the 400bhp Bentley V8 engine is the key to its ability to disguise the heavy weight. It has maximum torque of 835 Nm, at only 2100rpm.
A limousine typically takes 16-20 weeks to hand assemble, from order to delivery.