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Rolls-Royce and Bentley


Car of the Month - May 2004
Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I, #LSWA30, 1956,
Drophead Coupé by Carrosserie Graber (CH)

Hermann Graber of Wichtrach nr. Berne (Switzerland) was the most successful non-British coachbuilder of the post-war period on Bentley chassis (see details elsewhere on this website). But only a few experts knew about a unique Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I having been bodied by Carrosserie Graber. This fact was never recognized by a wider audience perhaps due to the fact that no photo of this particular car did ever appear in one of those books that are considered to be 'Standard Reference Books'.

Arguably the term Cabriolet as used on the Continent would be more appropriate than Drophead Coupé because the coachbuilder's slogan was "Graber Cabriolets - ein Begriff!" This body was erected on one of the very first chassis that were completed in chassis-series A of the Silver Cloud, it is fair to presume this was the 15th chassis finished. It was supplied via Franco Britannic Autos Ltd. 25 rue Paul Vaillant Couturier, Levallois, Perret, Seine (F) – and that must have given both the purchaser and the coachbuilder some headache because thus the chassis had to cross the border from the United Kingdom into France and then a second border from France to Switzerland with the necessity to fill all the Customs’ Forms twice.

The cabriolet's straight-through wing line made Graber's design years ahead of what was offered by English coachbuilders of that period: It is worth mentioning he already had decided on a padded and leather-covered capping rail to the fascia; a feature to appear as standard no sooner than from Silver Cloud III onward. The chrome application along the car’s side was so delicately positioned that not a hint of a slab-sided impression could be detected – a sheer delight. That can be stated about the well-proportioned boot, too, were the motto "Form Follows Function" was complied with resulting in an enormous luggage compartment.

This car is part of the collection of H.E. Sheikh Nasser Mohamed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Kuwait. Rolls-Royce cars delivered to countries in the Middle East usually were fitted with an oil-bath air-filter. For the sake of preserving this car in the original condition as it started life any temptation was withstood to alter features under the bonnet. As stated above it is not known that a photo had found its way into any book after this car was built almost half a century ago. Everyone who appreciates automotive sculpture will enjoy seeing these photos of an example of 50ies mechanical art.

Photos: Courtesy of H.E. Sheikh Nasser Mohamed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Kuwait

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