Westminster-based Hooper was probably Britain’s most flamboyant coachbuilder. Flamboyance isn’t cheap and Hooper attracted a very wealthy clientele who mostly commissioned bodies on Rolls Royce, Bentley and Daimler chassis, among the most expensive at the time.
But demand dried up during the Sixties and by 1970 Hooper was just the name on a London Rolls and Bentley dealer. During the Eighties, though, the company decided to revive the art of coachbuilding on the latest Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit/Bentley Turbo R.
Hooper offered a few different variations: this sat at the top of the tree, the Turbo R-based Empress II Coupe. It’s… different. The rear was elegantly reprofiled as a two-door fastback coupe, while a deeply ungainly ‘droopsnoot’ nosecone was added at the front. Lowered suspension, wire wheels and an even more luxurious interior finished it off.
Had Hooper stopped at the base of the windscreen, it would have been something really rather special. As it is, the politest thing I can call it is ‘an acquired taste’. Still, a handful of people were sufficiently moved to part with their hard earned. A lot of it. The Empress II reputedly cost an astonishing half a million pounds. You can’t buy taste, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc etc.
Incidentally the blue car picture here came up at auction a few years ago, estimated at a mere £35,000 – £40,000. A lot for a Turbo R, but staggeringly bad depreciation, all the same.
By Only Motors