Cars of 1998
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Coachwork on this Bentley R is by Carrosserie Graber who had their premises at Wichtrach nr. Berne in Switzerland. Hermann Graber created this body on chassis #B340SR (Engine-Number is B170S) which had been imported to the Alpine country during the last quarter of 1952. In the coachbuilder’s documents the job is listed with Body-No. 649. This car was exhibited side by side with another Bentley R-Type, #B342SR, on Graber’s stand at the 1954 Geneva Show. For the second Bentley the designer had opted on identical basic lines though he executed a cabriolet. It is worth a note a third Bentley R with cabriolet-coachwork by Graber appeared on the English motor car manufacturer’s stand in April 1954 in Geneva; that was #B82SR.
From early on company documents at Crewe recorded as customer of #340SR Madame M.L. Quilhot-Montalva. Hence most presumably Graber’s creation has been built to the order of that female client. She was to enjoy a fixed head coupe with exquisitely attractive design that offered particularly unhindered vision thanks to a rear light that was formed to reach well into the rear posts. It was made from three glass partitions separated by chromed thin pillars. The standard of production of glass panels at that time was not yet sufficiently advanced to permit making a one-piece glass featuring such narrow curves. The car offered 4 places with rear seats that guaranteed passengers comfortable accommodation; no ‘emergency-seat’ standard. The boot offered sufficient volume – contrary to the limitation dictated by the fastback design of the contemporary Bentley R Continental on offer from H.J. Mulliner.
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With his design Hermann Graber achieved timeless elegance for his all-steel body. Nonetheless the car was not extinct from the sad fate of becoming severely neglected and suffering tremendous damage so that for a period of almost 20 years it remained stored partially dismantled; hardly to be considered a sort of ‘sleeping beauty’ at a quick glance. When at some later stage an enthusiast showed up who dared to start restoration he found that to be a most demanding task. Again, and again during progress of that work it was found that additional restoration was necessary in other fields. The job became even worse because over the years quite a few vital components had ‘disappeared’. It was sheer dedication in combination with high-level craftsmanship that enabled to overcome all the obstacles. Today no-one could state when the car became subject to an up-date which substituted the original tail lights by more modern units from the 1955 launched Bentley S1; the rear fenders had been altered accordingly.
Towards the year 1995 the work was finished and the Bentley R, #B340SR, was shining in solitary splendour again. During following years the car regularly did attend club-meetings in Switzerland. At a later stage the automobile crossed the border and is now in the custody of a collector in Germany.
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