“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”
No, but we have him under glass. Or actually, under a transparent polycarbonate roof.
Well, really, it’s Lexus that does.
And it’s no tobacco store prank. Rather it’s a special Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet, an official one-off wedding car for the marriage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco to Ms. Charlene Wittstock on July 2, 2011.
The extremely limited production Lexus Landaulet is an official project of Lexus Europe, constructed by the Belgian coachbuilder Carat Duchatelet, a specialist in armored limousines on Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maybach and Mercedes Benz. And now Lexus, a definite public relations coup for Toyota’s upscale division.
The Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet is a conversion of the standard Lexus hybrid, allowing the prince to be green while his bride wears something blue. The wedding car will be used to tour the Principality of Monaco, for most of the route operating in full zero-emission mode powered by electric motor alone, with the royal couple on display under the transparent dome for adoring Monegasques.
The roof is more than a just a plastic clamshell full of royalty, however. To make the landaulet–a classic body style with a convertible rear section and open or closed driver compartment–the bodyshell was reinforced with “the very latest in honeycomb structures, Kevlar and carbon fiber technology” to keep the long chassis rigid after removing its roof.
Because the polycarbonate roof requires very high temperatures to cure, most of the vehicle had to be completely dismantled, some 20,000 mechanical parts, electronic components and interior features and upholstery, and then reassembled under the watchful eyes of a Lexus engineering team, making sure everything went back together in Lexus fashion.
The roof itself can be removed and, one huge piece, was manufactured by a French specialist in helicopter windshields, jet fighter canopies and similar applications. The roof is only 8 mm thick and weighs less than 60 pounds. The entire conversion, including painting in Midnight Blue, required more than 2,000 hours.
How much does something like that cost? If you’re a prince, apparently nothing.
“Lexus is very proud to present this exceptional full hybrid vehicle to H.S.H. the Sovereign Price of Monaco,” said Andy Pfeiffenberger, vice president of Lexus Europe. “Our commitment to innovation and sustainable mobility at Lexus matches well with His Serene Highness’ keen interest in promoting sustainable development and environmental protection.”
One wonders, of course, whether the tin cans tied to the rear bumper of that serene Lexus LS 600h Landaulet will be cans of Prince Albert.
Follow on twitter @ autoreview.