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Lot 695: 1947 Bentley MkVI Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Carrosserie Graber

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

The policy of rationalisation begun in the late 1930s continued at Rolls-Royce after the war with the introduction of standard bodywork. In a break from the coachbuilt tradition this was made of pressed steel panels welded together. The new ‘standard steel’ body was available at first only on the MkVI Bentley, though customers could still opt for a coachbuilt alternative, such as the car offered here. A separate chassis was retained, the same basic design being built in three different wheelbase lengths, that of the MkVI (and Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn) measuring 10’ exactly. Notable features were independent front suspension and hydraulic front brakes. Powering the range was a new 4,257cc six-cylinder engine featuring inlet-over-exhaust valve gear and breathing through a Stromberg carburettor (Rolls-Royce) or twin SUs (Bentley).
The Autocar magazine was highly impressed with their MkVI test car in the Spring of 1950. ‘Perhaps the outstanding thought from extensive driving of the Bentley MkVI built by the world’s premier car manufacturers, Rolls-Royce, is that it has no single predominant feature but gains its unique position from a combination of superbly matched qualities that raise it above the level of other cars. Years of painstaking research and development with mechanical perfection as the goal show their results unmistakably. Smoothness and quietness and sheer quality are in the superlative.’
This elegant car is the 3rd drophead coupé produced by the Swiss Carrosserie Graber on the Bentley MkVI chassis and may well have been only the 2nd to this particular design, of which only some 10-or-so were produced over a four-year period, seven of which are believed to survive. Graber’s designs were always executed to the very highest standards and his creations were necessarily expensive, costing far more than those of his British contemporaries. This example was built in 1947 for a Doctor Robert Kaffeli and supplied by Bellvue Garage, of Berne, Switzerland, the Rolls-Royce agents. The car was originally finished in red but at some time in the 1980s was subject to a full restoration and repainted in dark blue with a cream fabric hood. Unusually for a Bentley, the dashboard is metal and painted in the body colour, which Graber preferred to the traditional wooden dash. This car also has an air conditioning unit, which may well have been fitted when it was originally supplied. Post-restoration, it was featured in Germany’s Motor Klassik magazine (early in 1990) and also in ‘Rolls Royce and Bentley’ by Klaus-Josef Rossfeldt (page 137).
The vendor purchased the car in late 2000 from its then owner - Dr Vladimir Bar, of Erligheim, Germany - and imported it to the UK, changing the ‘km/h’ speedometer (which read 88,250 kilometres at that time) for an ‘mph’ unit in 2001. ‘B136BH’ has undergone extensive mechanical refurbishment while in the current ownership and is presented in very good condition - immaculate underneath - and reported as driving beautifully. A new hood has been fitted recently, matching the dark blue body colour. We are advised that the car has completed only some 330-or-so miles in the past seven years, and has been serviced/MoT’d annually by Sebright Garage. Many of the bills are available, showing the extent of work undertaken, but not including one recent invoice for replacing the rear brake shoes. All its original documentation comes with the car, together with a full set of restoration photographs, current MoT, road fund licence and Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
Lot Number695
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£60000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£67500
Condition rating
Registration numberSSL 896
Chassis numberB136BH
Engine numberB68B
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors