Lexus has unveiled a unique hybrid Lexus LS 600h Landaulet, made exclusively for His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco to use when he marries Charlene Wittstock in Monte Carlo on 1st & 2nd July 2011.
The Landaulet has a one-piece transparent polycarbonate roof fitted by Belgian coach-builder Carat Duchatelet alongside Lexus engineers and took more than 2,000 hours to complete and involved the removal of around 20,000 individual parts.
A traditional Landaulet would have a completely open rear seat, but the modern preference is for enclosed versions such as the LS 600h, as they provide an element of protection whilst still allowing the occupants to be easily seen.
The complex roof – produced in conjunction with a French aeronautical engineering company more used to designing fighter jet canopies and helicopter windscreens – is made of a lightweight 8mm polycarbonate shell weighing just 26kg.
Computer-aided design analysis showed that the removal of the roof and door pillars meant that the body shell needed to be reinforced. This was done using a honeycomb of Kevlar and carbonfibre composite, which was then baked to cure it in a specially designed high temperature oven.
The shell was then painted Midnight Blue using a water-based paint as an eco-friendly measure. Reassembly of the car took a team of ten engineers more than two weeks.
The all-wheel drive LS 600h has a 5-litre V8 petrol engine combined with an electric motor allowing the standard version to accelerate from rest to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.3 seconds. It’s unlikely that the Landaulet will be used in this way, though; Lexus suggest that it will operate in fully electric mode as the happy couple tour the principality after their two days of marriage ceremonies.
Following the wedding, the Lexus will be put on display before being retired to the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco.