Graber

July 2020

Graber Alvis rarely change hands but when they do, their past life has usually been recorded by us and the Swiss Car Register. So when Ken Swanstrom wrote in May to say he had bought TD21 26605 from Germany we were able to give some background on the previous owners, but not a lot of detail. The internet was able to fill in some gaps with clues from Christoph Grohe who had bought the car in Switzerland and sold it to the last owner in Germany in 1992.

Enquiries to the Graber Friends and Ralph Schwarz in particular drew somewhat of a blank as the first owner never participated in any events nor offered any data. However, an internet search revealed rather more.

The 2008 obituary of the first Swiss owner, Hans Diehl-Rietmann reads “Mr. Diehl-Rietmann, the legendary Swiss merchant, had prepared my internship with his old friend Jules Chauvet at the Chapelle de Guinchay in 1969. The trip was made in his beautiful and special Alvis-Graber. At the wheel sat the driver, Mr. Glaus, in his blue Swissair livery. Mr. Diehl on his right controlled the timetable with a stopwatch. At the last petrol station before the border, a stop enabled Mr. Diehl to fasten his rosette of Agricultural Merit to his jacket. At the same time the driver refueled the magnificent Alvis which was equipped with a specially large tank. Mr. Diehl was a great lover of French wines, but he did not have much confidence in what was sold at the pumps of this country, and did not want his car to taste it.”

Christoph Grohe confirmed he bought the car from Iva Gredinger and again an internet search enabled Ken to make contact with her, now 91, and was pleased to hear about the car. Not only that, but she revealed past ownership of another Graber which hopefully will be identified.

26605 now in the USA

All that remains now is for the Swiss Car Register to provide any service documention from earlier years.


January 2020

Almost fifty years since the passing of Hermann Graber, a Continuation TF21 Model is in course of construction by the Alvis Car Company. The following gallery is of the final six TF21 Alvis built, including the very last, by Graber:

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23rd June 2019: Graber coachwork was on display at several events including Coppet Concours which had two Alvis, a Bentley and a Rover coupe and a private Centenary event in Bubikon with five Alvis. In Oxfordshire at the Bicester Super Scamble was a fine selection…

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The 20/25 and Park Ward Series II, R Type Bentley


In 1946 Graber made a couple of Tropic coupes on the TA14 chassis, but none are believed to have survived. When the Three Litre arrived, the Alvis Graber partnership flourished.

Graber's Graber
Graber’s personal car pictured in 1985 when the AOC Swiss Tour visited Wichtrach. Photo AAT Sanders collection.
This car was on show at the Pantheon in Basel with other Graber bodied cars in a Swiss Carrossiers exhibition - AAT Fox Collection March 5th 2014.
This car was on show at the Pantheon in Basel with other Graber bodied cars in a Swiss Carrossiers exhibition – AAT Fox Collection March 5th 2014.
From the Swiss Car Register archives comes this photo of the 1955 Paris Motor Show hosted by Jacques SAVOYE, Importateur, 237 Bd Pereire, Paris 17. Can anyone identify the six men admiring 25856 TC21/100 Graber (see Nick Simpson's article Rara Avis)
From the Swiss Car Register archives comes this photo of the 1955 Paris Motor Show hosted by Jacques SAVOYE, Importateur, 237 Bd Pereire, Paris 17. Can anyone identify the six men admiring 25856 TC21/100 Graber (see Nick Simpson’s article Rara Avis)
SHPAlvisCov
The original Graber 3-litre commissioned by Alvis in 1955 pictured on Holyhead Road Coventry before the factory was demolished and turned in to a supermarket. Willowbrook made replicas in Loughborough for a couple of years before Park Ward took over production that lasted until 1967.
25917 TC108G – Graber Treffen 2006 AAT Fox Collection
25920 TC108G – where is it now?
These 1989 pictures of TC108/G/TD21 25938 show the much wider experimental radiator grille tried on this prototype – possibly to improve cooling? It was not seen in production. The interior view clearly shows the ‘Graber’ grouped instrument panel subsequently replaced by the triangular panel on J.J. Parkes orders. Photos:-Nick Simpson Archive.
Above and below – 25940 TC108g entered in the 2017 Hampton Court Concours of Elegance – photos Lionel George

The TC108G Chapter in Dave Culshaw’s book – The Alvis Three Litre in Detail
25936 restored in 2016 by Dieter Schaetti and below as advertised when new
Graber 702 restored in 2016 by Dieter Schaetti

25936 probably

A photograph by Gordon Wilkins of Herr Graber with a TC108G taken in Geneva in 1958; Dan Geoghegan collection.
A 1958 photograph by Gordon Wilkins of Herr Graber with a TC108G, Dan Geoghegan collection.

Aeroplane 1957 Leonides ad

The last TC108G made from 1958, Graber number 720.
The late fifties cars used Rolls-Royce Lucas light units
This TC108G is 705, and features TC style bumpers.

26777 Graber TD21 Series II coupe, formerly owned and restored by Werner Graf
26777 Graber TD21 Series II coupe, formerly owned and restored by Werner Graf
26777 Graber TD21 Series II coupe, formerly owned and restored by Werner Graf
26785 – This TD21 Series II by Graber was entered into the Villa d’Este Concours in 2012 – photo D Schaetti
The Geneva Salon was the annual showcase of the carrosier's art - this is 1963....
The Geneva Salon was the annual showcase of the carrosier’s art – this is 1963….
26895 1963 Graber TD21 Series II cabriolet, as displayed at the 1963 Geneva Salon. Currently owned and photo by Christoph Grohe.
26895 1963 Graber TD21 Series II cabriolet, as displayed at the 1963 Geneva Salon. Currently owned and photo by Christoph Grohe.
26895 1963 Graber TD21 Series II cabriolet, as displayed at the 1963 Geneva Salon. Currently owned and photo by Christoph Grohe.
26895 1963 Graber TD21 Series II cabriolet, as displayed at the 1963 Geneva Salon. Currently owned and photo by Christoph Grohe.
 It is very rare to find two identical Graber cars but these two TD21 Series II coupes at the June 2007 Graber Treffen might be the exception.
26978 and 26809 – it is very rare to find two identical Graber cars but these two TD21 Series II coupes at the June 2007 Graber Treffen might be the exception.

Graber 4 door at the 2011 Graber Treffen

Your scribe in Aladdin's cave a very long time ago...
Your scribe in Aladdin’s cave a very long time ago…

18 thoughts on “Graber”

  1. As a coachwork finisher at Park Wards/HJ Mulinner and responsible for the fitting of bonnet strips and front cowls during the early 60’s you can blame me, although every care was taken it was not always possible to be 100% accurate. A plumb line was used but bearing in mind the hand built aspect of the cars, several points were just not practical. And some did not line up as well as others. Anyone who has removed the above parts from the body work will have seen enlarged fixing holes and washers used to get a decent alignment. Its the curse of the hand built car I’am afraid.

    1. Neil: George Howell was my Dad – it’s nice to see at least one of his cars survives. After he was appointed to the board in 1957 he had at least six other Alvises before JHP, including a Grey Lady and various TDs and TEs. As you’d expect, as a Director he was given a new car every two years or so. But as you are aware he kept JHP for four years, the reason being that he stubbornly resisted efforts by Rover management to put him into one of those fat P5s! He reluctantly capitulated when the engine broke.

  2. The Graber cars are always interesting and exciting to look at as they are nearly all different. A man that was a stylist who new what his customers wanted and pioneering in design. The Alvis marque has a lot to be thankful to him for as he was at his most prolific on their chassis. In turn we are most grateful that we can enjoy seeing his cars today especially on this web site. Thank you to all of you working hard on delivering it to us. Keep showing us more of Heman Grabers cars.

    1. Yes, we know where these cars are and have posted a picture of the first drophead above. The first saloon is alive and well in Andorra. Neil Millington has another saloon as does Robin Willmott. There were quite a few. A new Register will be published this year

  3. Nice to hear from Rod Howell about his Father running JHP 903E whilst at Alvis. The car was originally silver but changed to peony red in 1987. It was sold to a Mr E Phillips of Wolverhapton in early 1972 and following three further owners I purchased it in Jan 1998. Apart from the change of colour it has had no major body or mechanical work and still retains its original interior.

    1. My father bought JHP in 1974 from I’m fairly sure from the late Mr Phillips in Wolverhampton I as a 7 year old remember going to collect it. We had until about 1983 after my fathers death in 1983.
      Tim Chadney

      1. Hi Tim
        Yes you are quite right, your father bought it from Barclaytrust who were handling the affairs of the late Ernest Philips and were eager to dispose of the car as was the beneficiary! Your father insisted on an AA inspection that concluded that the car was “generally an exceptionally good example of a quality car of this age and mileage. It appears to have been maintained regardless of cost and is very difficult to criticize.”
        I have half a dozen invoices relating to repairs carried out to the car whilst in your fathers possession, should you wish I could let you have copies of them and the report.
        It had two further owners before me, Mr Bayham (2 years) and then the gentleman I purchased it from (10 years) in October 1997
        Neil Millington

  4. Lovely documentation. I own myself an Alvis Graber coupé from 1960. It is one of the most pleasant and reliable historic cars I owe. Some years ago we drove from Switzerland all the way to Normandie, in oder to participate in the Fouger Rally and back. Without any problems we covered over 2000km.
    best regards, Dr. Ph. Speiser

  5. Re 25946 – 1st production TD21. This was a Works car listed as Sales Dept. It was sold off in June 1960 via W.A.Skelly, an Alvis dealer. It had been re-regiistered XDA500 and when I viewed it in 1970 was a non-runner, derelict and in a very corroded condition. It was broken up for spares around this time by Vintage Racing Cars in Northampton.

  6. Thank you for showing the 4 door saloon. Does anyone have figures on how many other 4 doors were built on the 3 litre chassis please?

  7. I can confirm that the wider radiator grille on 9 VMG was indeed an experiment to improve cooling. However it didn’t work and the car was plagued by overheating problems when in stationary traffic… to help cooling in the summer we had to turn the heater on full-blast, when stuck in traffic jams, that helped the engine but was not much fun for the driver and passengers. Probably fitting an electric fan, rather than the standard belt-driven arrangement, would have sorted it out but my father was keen to keep the car all-original.

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