“Nil fato relinquemus”
There’s nothing more exquisite than a coachbuilt Rolls Royce
When the best just isn’t good enough and personalization is paramount with money being no object, Hooper & Company – the historic coachbuilder in the UK – could provide exactly what the client desired. The company dates back to 1909 with its association with Rolls Royce. Royal patronage goes back through nine reigns of British Monarchy starting with George III. Hooper & Co carried out extensive restoration work for Buckingham Palace.
This eminent coachbuilder customized vehicles from horse-drawn coaches to motor vehicles. Hooper & Co was based in Westminster, London from 1805 to 1959 and is well-known for producing special order luxury vehicles of distinction. Rolls Royce didn’t start bodying their own cars until 1949. Hooper & Co ceased production of coachbuilt bodies when Rolls Royce abolished separate body on chassis design in favor of monocoque construction.
1951 Rolls-Royce Wraith Perspex Top Saloon by Hooper
Hooper was a British coachbuilding company founded as Adams and Hooper in 1805. They built high-end horse-drawn carriages who supplied King William IV, Queen Victoria, and King Edward VII. By the turn of the 20th century they moved into motor vehicle bodies. They specialized in the most luxurious coachcrafting with cost not taken into consideration. These automobiles were stately, elegant carriages. With their reputation for exemplary craftsmanship, they had to expand in order to keep up with customer demand.
In 1938 Hooper acquired Barker and Company LTD a rival that had been in business since 1710. Barker was also the maker of luxurious bodywork for expensive prestige cars. In 1940 Hooper was acquired by the Daimler Company becoming a part of the BSA Industrial Group. BSA transferred the business into a new entity “Hooper (Motor Services) LTD” which acted as a sales and service company as a Rolls Royce distributor in 1970.
1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Limousine by Hooper
After the war Hooper became famous for building large outlandish Daimlers for Lady Docker, wife of the BSA chairman. The Docker Daimlers were outrageous and were exhibited each year in October at the London Motor Show. Hooper & Co specialized in the very elite top-tier of the market. They built some of the most luxurious bodies in the industry without consideration of cost.
Hooper & Co was an eminent coachbuilder in the same league as HJ Mulliner, Park Ward, and James Young. They created Rolls Royce motorcars of unprecedented luxury and elegance. As the trend of building cars on a separate chassis was ending, the market for complete bodies transitioned from wood-framed bodywork to bodies built over cast or extruded aluminium structures. Aluminium was first used as far back as 1933. This material is not only lightweight, but makes it easier to sculpt the graceful curves and contours of which Hooper is renowned.
1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Hooper Limousine
1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Hooper Limousine
Hooper’s new look in the mid 1950s was created by Osmond Rivers and is known as the “Empress Line.” These are elegant hand-crafted automobiles. The Silver Wraith was transformed into an eloquent luxury saloon for those who preferred something more exclusive. Those who could afford such were limited by their own imagination regarding personalization. Originally, the Empress line was designed for the Daimler chassis.
Rolls Royce has prospered and maintained its pre-eminence in the world of ultra-luxury cars. They build vehicles that are beyond reproach. It is all about satisfying their clientele. A challenging task such as the modification of these magnificent motorcars requires craftsmen with skills and the ability to expedite them successfully. This is why Hooper & Co had such a long and rewarding tenure with Rolls Royce.
1980 Corniche coachbuilt fixedhead coupe by Hooper & Co
Hooper also modified the Rolls Royce Corniche in 1980. They grafted the nose and tail from a Silver Spirit onto the Corniche architecture for an extremely unique look. It is from the Hooper Corporate Collection. This is the last Rolls Royce coupe conversion that was delivered in 1979 as a 1980 model. This is a one-off creation, the work took 18 months clocking thousands of hours of work with many major and minor alterations. This truly bespoke saloon is equipped with a $30,000+ stereo system by Howard Becker.
The Hooper Corniche is fitted with Bailey Sport suspension components to enhance its overall driving dynamics. Can you see the Corniche coupe flanked by Silver Spirit accents?
Exterior enhancements are bold. Take the front end styling for example, it combines the look of the Silver Spirit and the Corniche. The rear is equally as dramatic. The stainless-steel rocker moldings, “RR” wire wheels, and stainless-steel dual exhaust ports augment the architecture. The total cost of the custom coachwork far exceeded the original cost of the car. RM Auctions is handling this pristine example.
The first time Rolls Royce buyer is intrigued by it in its production form. After that, the client wants something more elaborate. This is where Hooper & Co provided the personalization. They would modify the vehicle into a work of art. Hooper did a lot of custom work for Rolls Royce. As a manufacturer, this type of individual personalization is time-consuming and Rolls Royce could not perform many of the detailed tasks involved. Hooper & Co brought a substantially different appearance to the standard production vehicles. Hooper & Co satisfied the client’s desire for individuality and personalization of their luxury car.
Some of Hooper’s elite clientele includes the marquis of Londonderry, the marquis of Crewe, and the Kings of: Spain, Norway, Portugal, and Siam, even the Shah of Persia. The client who pays for the very best is entitled to demand the very best, is the way Hooper & Co viewed the business. They took pride in perfection.
Hooper & Co required factory approval from Rolls Royce before such modifications were made. The car’s character could not reflect anything other than keeping them as the ultimate in luxurious road-going vehicles. By 1981 the company had increased their staff and returned to profitability. They had also revived their long tradition of quality, craftsmanship, and perfection.
After Hooper transitioned into a sales organization they continued to craft bespoke bodies for Rolls Royce and Bentley. They were busy during the 1980s. The coachbuilt Silver Spirit two-door saloon was crafted as one of their superlatives. These are extremely rare and highly collectible. It is built on the standard Silver Spirit platform.
Hooper hand-crafted the saloon re-working the architecture. Larger front doors were used in addition to the rear quarter panels and re-worked “C” pillars. The rear window was frenched-in making it smaller and more on the order of a limousine. The bumpers were re-designed to give a more formal appearance. The rocker panels and lower sills received stainless-steel moldings adding more chrome than the standard Silver Spirit. The cost of conversion was a hefty 50% over the base price. This type of conversion is an intricate engineering effort requiring advanced hand-crafting by experienced craftsmen. RM Auctions is handling this one as well.
1988 Silver Spirit coupe
1983 Rolls Royce Camargue Beau Rivage by Hooper & Co
The Beau Rivage is another one-off creation, it was commissioned by Hooper & Co for their display stand at the 1983 Geneva International Motor Show. It was rumored to have been sold during the first two hours of the show. The 1983 Rolls Royce Camargue is finished in Walnut over Magnolia. The interior is Nuella Tan leather with Deep Fawn carpets and beige headlining. More bespoke features were a Sony TV, video player, refrigerator, unique center console, and a power sunroof.
The subtle exterior refinements include color-keyed front and rear bumpers, a lower front air dam with fog lamps mounted to the valance, unique four-headlamp washing system, and hand-painted pin striping to the wheel covers.
The Beau Rivage as with all Camargue models, is the totally avant-garde Rolls Royce and either you love it or you hate it. At the time, it was the most obscenely expensive car in the world – but to me, its look resembles a possum sucking persimmons…
Another ultra-exclusive one-off creation was built for an Australian client at a cost of over $1 Million USD. The 1989 Rolls Royce Emperor State Landaulette from the “Hooper Corporate Collection” is an impressive sight. Work for this magnificent vehicle began in 1988 and continued until 1991. George Moseley was retained by Hooper & Co for this project. He worked with the industry’s finest coachbuilders including Mulliner, Park Ward, and Vanden Plas.
The Emperor State Landaulette is built on the Sliver Spirit platform. The wheelbase extends the stock Silver Spirit’s 120.5” to 143”. The longer wheelbase ensures a smoother ride. The bodyshell was re-worked with new rear quarter panels, new doors, and new glass. The roof was raised for more headroom and a formal appearance. The roof has a removable targa panel and a collapsible rear hood.
The passenger compartment seats four in the lap of Rolls Royce luxury. It features a power division for privacy. The upholstery in the passenger compartment is grey velour. The driver’s compartment is upholstered in grey Connolly leather. Red carpet lines both compartments with contrasting grey mats. Book-matched walnut burl veneers grace the dash, door garnish rails and trim, even the cocktail cabinet. A separate entertainment system is provided for the passenger compartment.
The bespoke modern coachwork is painted Anvil Black with Regency Red lower body sides. The collapsible rear hood is made of mohair. The roof is covered in matching Everflex. Its elegant architecture cleverly disguises its massive dimensions.
It is powered by the Rolls Royce aluminium alloy 6.75 litre 16-valve OHV V8 engine mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission. It has a four-wheel independent suspension with hydraulic height control. The four-wheel disc brake system uses the Rolls Royce dual hydraulic system.
The Hooper coachbuilt versions are unique interpretations of the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit, Corniche, Silver Dawn, and Silver Wraith, models to name just a few. Hooper & Company are among the last of the eminent coachbuilders. They produced some of the most interesting custom-bodied Rolls Royce models of the day. They were in the same league as HJ Mulliner, Park Ward, and James Young.
From elite horse-drawn coaches to elegant motorcars of distinction, Hooper & Company created strikingly individual designs in the bespoke world of the ultra-luxury automobile. They specialized in the very top-tier of the market…where money is no object. Their clients include royalty, heads of state, and some of the wealthiest clientele in the entire world. The masterworks from Hooper & Company still demand top dollar at the auction block proving the point; there will always be a market for excellence –
1988 Hooper Silver Spirit coupe