Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 136

1953 Bentley Mark VI Cabriolet Conversion by Graber

  • Chassis no. B184MD

Sold for $253,000


Est. 150 bhp, 4,566 cc F-head inline six-cylinder engine with twin SU carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with hydraulic shock dampers, semi-elliptical leaf spring rear suspension with adjustable hydraulic shock dampers, and servo-assisted front and mechanical rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

  • A rare example of subtle Swiss coachwork on the Bentley Mark VI chassis
  • High-quality, award-winning restoration; beautiful lines
  • Wonderful period-correct accessories, including fitted luggage and a picnic hamper
  • Correct professional conversion to an open cabriolet


Swiss coachbuilder Hermann Graber of Basel worked on virtually every fine chassis from the 1930s through the 1950s but became especially highly regarded for the gentle elegance of its designs on Rolls-Royce and Bentley. This included several similar drophead coupes produced on Mark VI chassis, known for their smooth, modern “pontoon”-fendered lines, with integrated headlamps and flowing slab sides, giving them an appearance reminiscent of Talbot-Lago.

The example offered here was ordered as a chassis through the renowned Geneva agent, S.A. Garage de L’Athénée, by Monsieur A. Walter Gemuseus of Zurich, a prominent Swiss banker, with Graber noted as the coachbuilder of record. Special features requested included a steering column in the lowest possible position, suiting the first owner’s build, as well as a metric speedometer, “no horns or fog lamp,” and double-filament headlights, as well as provision for the installation of a special Swiss long-wave radio.

It should be noted that build sheets for the car, as well as Bernard L. King’s book, Bentley Mark VI, describe it consistently as a “two-seater coupe” or “fixed head coupe,” to a unique design.

Factory records indicate that delivery of the car was made to Monsieur Gemuseus on 1 June 1952. Later ownership is not recorded, aside from a Mr. Singh of California, from whom it was purchased by longtime Rolls-Royce and Bentley connoisseur, Gene Epstein, in the early 21st century. By this time, the car had been converted to its present cabriolet configuration.

Mr. Epstein endeavored to complete a ground-up restoration of the car, in which the body was removed from the chassis, and the frame itself taken down to bare metal, repaired as necessary, and properly refinished. The engine and all mechanical components were carefully rebuilt. The body was refinished in a beautiful forest green and black two-tone, with high-quality tan leather upholstery. The steering column, steering wheel, and instruments were removed and correctly restored. Proper Marchal headlamps, as original, were fitted, along with a pair of matching fog lights. Importantly, the top was also remade, to authentic Graber designs, including custom-machined hardware.

Typical of Mr. Epstein’s restorations, the result is quite brilliant and was much-appreciated by Mr. Smith, who enjoyed driving this car regularly. Nonetheless the finish of the body and interior are still excellent and show-quality, as is the flawless interior woodwork; as marque expert Diane Brandon noted when inspecting the car, “its cosmetics are superb.” The driver’s door contains a cubby with two crystal decanters and four glasses, while the luggage compartment contains proper sets of hand and road tools, a period Norelco Sportsman electric razor in its original box, a Coracle wicker picnic hamper with full complements of flatware and plastic food boxes, and a three-piece set of period fitted luggage.

Lovely in its presentation and the subtle elegance of its lines, this is among the most beautiful Graber designs on the Mark VI chassis and awaits a new home on either the Swiss Alpine roads or a concours field.

Addendum

Please note that this title is in transit.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 212 894 1981
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more