by Simon Haldy
HERMANN GRABER – CARROSSERIE WICHTRACH (1925-1970)
Hermann Graber (1904-1970) is without doubt the most famous of all Swiss coachbuilders, and his personal style is easily recognizable in most of his designs. In 1924 he took over his father’s wheel making business, and quickly converted it for the production of car bodies. Graber creations soon became very sought after by clients who were fond of his style, mixing classical elegance with a sporty touch. He coachbuilt numerous great and prestigious chassis, such as Duesenbergs (he is one of the few who dared to clothe a roadster without the traditional Duesie‘s radiator shell), Packards, Hispano-Suizas, Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Talbot-Lagos (sadly Graber rebodied a wonderful T150 SS „Teardrop“ by Figoni et Falaschi after the war as a roadster, and scrapped the magnificent original body) and Bugattis, of course. Graber Bugattis are in most cases of quite basic design and even a bit austere, but their overall shape and proportions are mostly really elegant and could easily compete with the products from Gangloff. The 1937 Type 57 with chassis number 57447 is a very elegant design, one which Graber repeated on 4 more Bugattis.
CARROSSERIE WORBLAUFEN, F. RAMSEIER & CO. – WORBLAUFEN (1929-1958)
Next to Graber, Worblaufen was definitely one of the most creative Swiss coachbuilders. The company had been set up in 1929 in the town of Worblaufen, near Bern, by Fritz Ramseier Jr, together with his two brothers Hans and Ernst. The Ramseier brothers built many exquisite bodies on very prestigious chassis, including eight Alfa Romeos; two Bentleys, Bugattis, BMWs, Citroens, Hotchkiss, Rolls-Royces, four Delahayes and Talbot-Lagos, three Peugeots and Lancias, and one on Cadillac, Ford, Graham, Isotta Fraschini and Mercedes-Benz. A great achievement for a small coachbuilding house!
Regarding Bugattis, Ramseier & Co Worblaufen clothed two of the ten “Grand Raid” 57’s, a special 57 chassis intended by Bugatti as a more sporting version of the standard type 57, fitted with a slightly lower frame, raked steering column and gear lever and the handbrake repositioned. It had a higher rear axle ratio, and a two-part dashboard with speedometer and tachometer at each end.
A 1934-35 Bugatti 57 „Grand Raid“ (57260) won the 1935 Montreux Concours d’Elégance with at its wheel Paul Aellen, its new owner (here shown with his wife). Worblaufen clothed two “Grand Raids”, the first of which (57246) belonged to Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, seen here in a picture which is believed never to have been published previously, so this might be a scoop for CRANKHANDLEBLOG!
GEBRÜDER TÜSCHER & CO (1909-1940)
The company was founded in 1909 in Zürich by Adolf and Fritz Tüscher.
Tüscher initially focused on bodying busses and utility vehicles, but later they started to design and build coachwork on chassis like Isotta Fraschini, Rolls-Royce, Delahaye, Bugatti, Jaguar, MG, Alfa Romeo and the American brands Studebaker, Dodge, Chrysler, Buick, Cadillac and Auburn. In the ’30s the Tüscher brothers were also the Swiss importers for Alfa Romeo.
Expansion continued into the thirties, and Tüscher became known for its elegant styling, quality of construction and tight fitting convertible tops. In 1933 Tüscher opened a purpose-built assembly hall for convertible car bodies, built in small series mainly on Plymouth and Chrysler chassis, but also – to special order – on luxury chassis like Jaguar, Delahaye and Alfa Romeo.
In 1938 the Tüscher brothers gave this Bugatti 57 (57669) a most elegant body, an example of how Swiss coachbuilders combined French style with a touch of Italian sporting elegance.