Of course you’ve wondered what a 1980s lust-child of a Bentley Turbo R and a Saab 900 would look like – you’re human, aren’t you? The big Brit and big Swede going at it, metal creaking, rubber squeaking – it’s an achingly beautiful thought. Thankfully, we can get a pretty good idea of result of such a mating, and it’s called the Bentley Turbo R Empress II by Hooper & Co.
That name is a mouthful, yes, but so is the car, if we’re honest. Let’s dig in.
Hooper is a very old British coachbuilding firm, founded in 1805, and known for building incredibly luxurious, cost-is-no-object vehicles, powered both by horsemeat and internal combustion. They’d been producing Rolls-Royce bodies since 1909, even. Hooper was successful until about 1959, having been acquired by Daimler in 1940.
By 1970 the company had become a Rolls-Royce distributor, and were but a shadow of what they once were.
In the 1980s, though, there was an attempt to revive Hooper as a producer of extremely high-end luxury coachbuilt cars, and the Empress II was the result of this attempt.
The Empress II was based on the contemporary Bentley Turbo R, a 320 HP gilded brute with a 6.75 liter V8 that was good to get its leather-crammed bulk over 60 MPH in about seven seconds. That’s great for a 1980s car.
Hooper replaced the Bentley’s dignified but staid body and replaced it with an interesting fastback sort of design. In profile, I think it looks a lot like a Saab 900, especially in the C-pillar. Up front there’s the traditional Bentley grille, but everything is raked back about 15° or so.
It’s got some pretty forward-looking elements for 1987, like the body-colored bumpers and those big rectangular headlights, but it’s also sort of ungainly looking.
Inside, there’s a cocktail cabinet, 12-speaker Alpine sound system, and “security monitoring micro flat screened television monitor.” Again, this was no joke back in the ‘80s, when we all had CRT TVs and Trimline phones and basically lived like animals.
These things cost £275,000 back in the day, which would be at least $800,000 or so today. Perhaps not surprisingly, they only sold six of them.
So, if you love the look of a Saab 900 but wish it was longer and made you look much wealthier and Britishier, I think we’ve found your new ride.
(Thanks to Coachbuilding and Concepts for showing this to me!)