|Homepage.||This page: A unique P3 Rover bodied in Switzerland and shown at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show.|
1948 Rover P3.Dave contacted me recently, after finding a photo of his Graber-bodied Rover in my photo gallery. He then sent me some further photographs, and this interesting write-up on his unique car.....over to Dave
"I`ve just been looking at your site, and I noticed that you have
2 pictures of my 1948 Rover P3-75 Graber Convertible at the Weston Park
Show. The body was built in 1948 by Hermann Graber of Switzerland, and
was exhibited at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show, it is the only special
bodied P3 ever made. She was kept in Switzerland until 1953 and then
sold to an Englishman who lived and worked in Paris, she came back to
the UK in 1962, where she was registered and given the no. 68 ELK.
History of this coachbuilt Rover P3.A few years ago, I was looking through the pages of Classic Car Weekly, when I saw the 1948 Rover P3-75 Graber Convertible 68 ELK for sale.
I had never seen her `in the flesh`, but I knew a little bit of her history after reading an article in the RSR magazine Freewheel, and another one in Classic Cars, I always thought she was a great looking car, but I`d probably never be lucky enough to own her. I phoned the number straight away and spoke to the seller, a great bloke called Alan Pearce, he told me that she was for sale, because he had suffered a couple of heart attacks, and felt that he couldn`t look after her properly. Alan lives in Milton Keynes, which is about 75 miles from me in Birmingham, so I jumped straight in the `modern` and got there as soon as I could, all the way there I was praying that nobody had beat me to it. When I got to Alan's, 68 ELK known as `Elkie` was on the drive, within 10 seconds I knew I`d got to buy her !!, so I rang the door bell and as soon as Alan opened the door I said `she`s mine`. We agreed the price, and we spent the next hour or so sitting in the garden drinking coffee and looking through the history file that he had managed to put together over the years. On the way home, I couldn`t believe my luck in buying such a beautiful car, and as is turns out, a unique piece of motoring history.
In 1948, the Swiss Rover agent Herr Voster of Baumberger and Voster visited the Rover Works to buy some new P3 models to ship back to Switzerland, pre and post war they had sold many British cars. Herr Voster must have liked the `spec` of the P3-75 as he ordered a RHD chassis, bulkhead, engine etc to to be shipped to Hermann Graber in Wichtrach, Bern. We know from the records at Gaydon that the parts were shipped in September 1948, but we are not sure how they were delivered as the P3 has a peculiar `3/4` chassis that finishes short of the rear wheels, maybe it was an early form of palletisation, but we just don`t know.
Hermann Graber and his small team must have worked like crazy to finish the car, as it was completed and exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show in early February 1949, just a few months after receiving the `bits`. The Autocar magazine attended the show and I quote from their write up ` A beautifully smoothed-out drop-head coupe on the Rover 75 chassis by Graber, one of the Show high-lights.` Through the archives at The Autocar, I`ve been very lucky to find four more photos that were taken at the show, all from different angles, these have been enlarged and framed, and take pride of place in our house.
Herr Voster must have liked the car very much, as he seems to have kept her for about five years, before selling her to an Englishman called Wyndam-Harris who lived in Paris and worked for N.A.T.O.. It appears that Mr. Wyndam-Harris sold the car to another Englishman, who also lived in Paris in 1961, the new owner bought the car back to the UK in 1962. I have 2 photos that were taken in Paris, I would guess these were about 1960/61, and they show her to be in quite poor condition, lots of body damage and fitted with what I think are P2 bumpers.
Over the next two decades I think Elkie was quite badly neglected, and one of her succession of UK owners finally stripped her completely, and sent her to his local scrapyard !!! Luckily, the scrapman didn`t put her through the crusher, but kept her under a tarpaulin sheet. I believe it was a man called Mr. Jared who found her, and started the job of trying to restore her. Over the years, several owners have made attempts to do various restoration work, but none of it very successful. It was the previous owner to Alan Pearce that made probably the best `stab` at it. He decided to fully restore the car, he had the interior restored to quite a high level and a new hood made, the mechanics were in reasonable order, and the body, although it looked good, left a lot to be desired. Elkie was very close to being put back on the road, when one Bonfire night, some vandals broke the garage window, and threw in a lighted firework, luckily the hood was down, and the firework only did damage to the newly restored front seats and a small area of carpet, but the owner then decided that he would sell her, and fortunately Alan bought her.
Ever since the day I bought Elkie, I have wanted to fully restore her to her `former glory`, this year is her 60th birthday, and the 60th anniversary of the launch of the P3 model. In March 2007 we took her on a 1,200 mile round trip to France, Belgium and Holland, and on our return I stripped her completely and in May 2007 I took her to a restorers in Bedfordshire who had her for about 3 months, and then decided the job was to big for them!! It was then that `blind panic` set in, but at a local show I met a restorer called Dave Brown, from Mansfield Woodhouse in Nottingham, he had his own beautiful Riley RM Roadster at the show, I went up to see him and he showed me the sort of standard of work that they do, and I was very impressed, the only problem was, that he could not take Elkie on until November 2007. So, after several months of anxious waiting I took her to Dave's place, in the short time she has been there, they have made remarkable progress, and I am hoping, and praying that she will be ready for the Classic Car Show at the NEC this November (2008), or even possibly earlier.
When Elkie is finished, she will be used and enjoyed, just as she was made to be, she is a pleasure to drive, and always attracts a lot of interest on the road, and at all the shows we go to. We hope next year to take her back to Wichtrach near Bern in Switzerland where she was built by Hermann Graber, and also to visit the club HQ of the Swiss Car Register who have some of Grabers records."
A big thanks to Dave for sending that story and the photos over, much appreciated! More stories about your cars can be found in the Your Classics section. If you'd like me to feature your classic, and tell its story to the world, by all means drop me a line.
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