Again in June, Uncommon Rides profiled a special blue British magnificence within the type of the Aston Martin Lagonda. Down within the feedback part, TTAC reader Heino requested protection of a Hooper-bodied Bentley.
Frankly, I forgot concerning the request briefly order. Nevertheless it sprang again to thoughts as quickly as I noticed the awkward visage of what would change into right now’s Uncommon Experience: a Bentley Hooper Empress II. Prepared for a historical past lesson?
Hooper was a luxurious coachbuilder primarily based in London, in enterprise for over 150 years. Beginning out with carriages in 1805, it made the transfer to cars with the remainder of the coachbuilders because the motorcar turned prevalent. Sought out by the very higher echelon of society, Hooper-bodied autos happy clients in search of luxurious, stately autos, which gave no consideration to crazy fripperies like value. Kings and shahs turned to Hooper for his or her regal Uncommon Rides (and weren’t disenchanted).
The ever-consolidating nature of the auto business discovered Hooper below Daimler possession in 1940, a part of the BSA industrial conglomerate. Its most necessary buyer within the 1950s turned Girl Docker, spouse of BSA’s chairman. These “Docker Daimlers” have been the corporate’s showpieces till 1955. After that yr, manufacturing figures subsided, and by 1959 the corporate noticed restricted manufacturing of simply over 100 Daimler SP250 coupes. Earlier than the tip of 1959, BSA rebranded Hooper as a gross sales and repair entity. The corporate existed on this kind till 1970, when it turned a Rolls-Royce distributor. Radio silence ensued.
Then in 1988 got here one final revival of the storied Hooper title, this time utilized to particular coachbuilt our bodies constituted of current Bentley and Rolls-Royce autos. Hooper supplied 4 complete fashions between 1988 and 1990: a limousine, a two-door Silver Spirit, a two-door Turbo R, and our topic right now, the Empress II.
Primarily based on a closely modified Bentley Turbo R, the Empress II was extremely costly. The itemizing really contains the unique value sheet, and it packs a punch.
The Empress II value £500,000, or roughly $825,000 in 1990. That’s over $1,500,000 in right now’s cash. Sturdy British forex charges within the early 1990s have been painful for abroad patrons. The unique proprietor was eager on a left-hand drive US-specification car in Japan, clearly for causes of individuality and status.
An in depth quantity of bodywork turned the moderately massive Turbo R sedan into this moderately massive coupe.
The quantity of the rear fenders was essentially elevated on the coupe, and the C-pillar sweeps all the way down to a shrunken rear window.
No person would mistake the entrance finish of the Empress II for a completely plebeian Turbo R. Behind the grille lies the usual 6.75-liter turbo V8.
The inside right here does disappoint a bit; it’s all commonplace Turbo R fare — except for one particular characteristic.
A pass-through cocktail cupboard, thus permitting entrance and rear passengers to drink costly cognac at will. Most glorious.
The itemizing states solely six Empress II examples have been produced in complete, with this one making its approach to San Diego by way of the unique proprietor in Japan. It’s on the market with 12,500 unspecified models on the odometer, almost certainly kilometers. The asking value? Simply $175,000, or 11 % of the inflation-adjusted buy determine. Fairly a win for depreciation.