High-Class Hybrid: Crystal Clear Drop-Top Lexus Debuts at Royal Wedding

The most recent British royal wedding between William and Kate gave car enthusiasts something to look forward to: not the ceremony itself, but the sweet set of wheels some of England’s finest arrived in. A 1977 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, an Aston Martin Volante and a vintage Aston Martin DB6 convertible stood out among the mix of Jaguars and Bentleys, and now another royal wedding will offer more ritzy ride eye candy.

Prince Albert II of Monaco is getting hitched on July 2, and we are given a sneak peek of the sweet set of wheels that will debut at the wedding. A one-off Lexus LS 600h Landaulet, complete with a transparent roof panel, will be the mode of transportation for the prince and his bride.

Belgian coachmaker Carat Duchatelet, in collaboration with French engineers, took over 2,000 hours to complete the hot drop-top. The engineers, who specialize in making helicopter windscreens, manufactured the transparent roof with no reinforcements or pillars. The light polycarbonate shell, measuring 8mm thick and weighing about 57 pounds, is affixed to the Lexus in two main parts and offers a crystal clear view from the inside and out.

But just how did the designers and engineers reinforce the bodyshell upon removal of the roof and pillars? Lots of Kevlar honeycomb structures and carbon fiber composite materials, which help retain chassis stiffness and torsional rigidity.

The curvature of composite parts was achieved by ‘cooking’ them onto the bare chassis in a specially designed oven, literally baking the car to perfection. But before any baking began, the car had to be dismantled into its 20,000 mechanical, electric and interior parts. Before putting all the pieces of the puzzle back together, the car was glazed in a Midnight Blue environmentally-friendly water-based paint.  Re-assembly took more than two weeks.

The LS 600h Landaulet will operate in full-electric mode on the big day, and will be displayed at the Media Center followed by the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco after the celebrations.

Source:  Lexus UK

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