Each Model ever built
Coachbuilders, Special Cars...
Car of the Month Selection
the Month - February 98
Bentley S1, 1957, #B504EG, Hooper Saloon
|In 1957 the five London coachbuilders listed different body styles for the
Bentley S1 and of course you could save yourself the very princely sum of at least 2,000
Pound by shopping for the body supplied by the manufacturer itself. That 2,000 Pound made
the difference between survival and demise of the coachbuilders, by 1962 when tax on cars
was reduced from 60 % to 25 only one independent firm remained. A coachbuilt body meant an
extra expenditure of at least 2,000 Pound plus, to differentiate it from a factory
product. The Annual motor show at Earls Court was therefore the occasion when
coachbuilders could vie with each other for what remained of the dwindling clientele. Of
the five major London Coachbuilders perhaps only Hooper & Co could display a full
range that ran from Limousines to lightweight sports cars.
their model range had been completed with showing their 1955 design on the Bentley S1
Chassis but with a modification that lightened the back of the car by omitting a full spat
of the rear wheels. This particular vehicle was painted pale grey and excited favourable
comment from the motoring press. The AUTOCAR found the car 'attractive' and the finish
'superlative'. The cross banded Eucalyptus woodwork the same weekly magazine found was
used to 'great effect' and THE MOTOR found this feature re-called 'the satinwood that
Sheraton so admired..'. This particular motor show exhibit was Hooper's body no. 10218 and
it is not commonly known that this was almost an exact copy of their previous body no.
10216 on Bentley S1 chassis no. B504EG.
|The Hooper S1 weighed over
80 lbs lighter than the factory's standard body and there was also an additional advantage
of rather more pronounced 'streamlining'. Rolls-Royce engineers at Crewe who were not
above makingsure coachbuilders towed the line, had tested an S1 of Hooper's and noted that
for a weight penalty of 2 1/2 lbs they could improve the stiffness factor of the Alpax
sill casting from 127 (which compared unfavourably with R-R's own factor of 174) to a 180.
This was adopted by the coachbuilder's Chief Designer Osmond Rivers when the next
sanctions of bodies were built from the autumn of 1956. This made the latter S1 Bentleys
torsionally much more stable.
The Bentley S1
#B504EG was sold to an English customer but the intervening 40 years since it was sold has
seen it, like so many British makes of car, being driven on the other side of the
Atlantic. For several years now it is domiciled in Germany and the gentleman in whose
custody this car is found that it had been properly maintained in its early life. The
standard Bentley specification of the era, power steering, automatic transmission, heated
rear window and efficient screenwasher made the car quite ahead of it's time. As the
Bentley can run quite happily on unleaded fuel it does meet present conditions well.
Driving this car is a pleasurable experience. The engine was rebuilt completely and
additional work has been carried out with no expenses spared. The car's appearance though
is not spoiled by having been subject to a restoration; it is a magnificent example of an
outstanding coachbuilt motor car which benefitted from 'loving tender care'.