There are two important sides to this story: the once-off hybrid Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet being built for Prince Albert II of Monaco, and the fact that he is marrying our very own Charlene Wittstock.
The LS range contains Lexus's most luxurious models. The “h” and “L” points to it being a hybrid-powered car and also the long wheelbase version. It is powered by a 5,0-litre V8 and electric power.
More importantly is the fact that this car has been converted (watch video by clicking on the video icon) by Belgian coachbuilders Carat Duchatelet with the collaboration of Lexus engineers. According to Lexus, it took over 2 000 hours to complete. The challenge was to maintain all the characteristics of the original car while offering it as a Landaulet.
The executive director of corporate development at Carat, Benoit Ceulemans, had the following to say: “We have 40 years experience in making armoured and extended vehicles for heads of state, royal families and VIPs around the world, however, this will be a milestone project for us. It is the first time we are publicly associated to such a prestigious project and memorable event.”
Removing the roof and pillars, the team had to made use of simulations and 3D modelling to reinforce the bodyshell. Materials such as Kevlar and carbon-fibre were used to maintain the vehicle’s chassis stiffness as far as possible. These parts were “cooked” onto the bare chassis in a specially prepared oven. This means that much of the vehicle was stripped and had to be re-assembled afterwards, a rather intensive and time consuming process. The roof is a single piece polycarbonate shell that is 8 mm thick and weights only 26 kg.
The wedding is planned for Saturday, 2 July. After the celebrations, the car will be displayed at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco.