Freestone and Webb

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Freestone and Webb were English coachbuilders who concentrated their manufacturing on Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars, but also built for Alfa Romeo, Packard, and Mercedes-Benz.

Silver Cloud drophead coupé
for October 1957 Earls Court Motor Show
"fins more suitable for a Studebaker"[1]

The business was founded in 1923 by V.E. Freestone and A.J. Webb as a specialist coachbuilding service, based in workshops (Unity Works) in Brentfield Road, Stonebridge Park, Willesden, North London, which became its home for its entire life. Freestone had learnt his trade working at Crossley Motors, while Webb had returned to England having trained in France.[2]

While working on bespoke Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, they developed the style known as Top hat, and popularised the Razor Edge style. Delivering up to 15 cars per annum, they began showing at the London Motor Show, and won the Gold Medal in the private coachbuilders competition nine years in a row.[2]

Like many independent manufacturers during World War II, they became a shadow factory, producing highly detailed and intricate wing tips for the Supermarine Spitfire.[2]

Post World War II, Rolls-Royce decided to offer a complete car inhouse, resulting from 1946 in the Bentley Mark VI, and the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. Although then still offering a chassis-only option, orders to Freestone and Webb tumbled, and the company began to suffer financial difficulties.[2]

A.J. Webb died in 1955. In May 1957[3] Freestone & Webb Limited was taken over by the Swain Group, who owned motor dealer H.R. Owen of Berkeley Street, London. This was the same year as the introduction of the Bentley S1/Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud both of which came as a chassis only option until 1965. With its main chassis supplier relationship now ended, it continued to refurbish and build bodies until 1958, when it became a pure showroom brand. In 1963, after Swain decided to divest itself of its coach building arm and focus just on motor retail, it was sold in 1963 to the new owners of fellow coachbuilders Harold Radford.[4]

A new company called Freestone & Webb Limited was incorporated and registered at Companies House in 1990 by an enthusiast owner, who sold it together with his 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre saloon at an auction at Brooklands, on June 2, 2010.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christopher Hurst, The View from King Street: An Essay in Autobiography, Thalia, London, 1997 ISBN 1-85065-325-9
  2. ^ a b c d "Freestone and Webb". DarkForce.com. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  3. ^ Jonathan Wood, The Rolls Royce, Shire, Princes Risborough UK, 2003 ISBN 0 7478 0577 6
  4. ^ "Harold Radford Coachbuilders". aronline.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  5. ^ "Buy the car – and the firm that made it". Daily telegraph. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 

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