In 1926, Hermann Graber (1904-1970) took over his father’s cartwrighting in Wichtrach, in the Swiss canton of Berne. The young entrepreneur converted the concept from carriage building to car body construction. Graber quickly became famous for his high quality, elegant and restrained bodywork, which even the ingenious Pininfarina praised. Graber’s special bodies were based on both European and American chassis.
Graber’s first vehicle was a two-seater convertible based on a Fiat 509. For the car, he designed a hinge system that allowed the vehicle doors to be opened either to the right or left, so that the Graber Fiat had two door handles. The company became famous with the Panhard & Levassor 20 CV, with which it won the Concours d’ Elegance in St. Moritz. Up until the Second World War, Carrosserie Graber produced numerous special car bodies for well-known automobile manufacturers such as Alfa Romeo, BMW, Bugatti, Packard, Bentley and Duesenberg.
The coachbuilder worked for the British luxury car manufacturer Alvis for almost two decades. The special thing about the Graber models was the complete absence of decorative ornaments and playful details. Thus, in contrast to the usual lavish woodwork on Graber’s vehicles, the dashboard consisted of sheet metal painted in the same colour as the car. Even with the use of chrome, the body designer was more economical.
After the end of the war, the Swiss changed his strategy once again and increasingly turned to British chassis. He built beautiful unique pieces based on Rover, Lagonda and Rolls Royce as well as 35 bodies for Bentley. In 1948, Graber took over the general agency in Switzerland for his long-standing client Alvis. When the Alvis designer G. T. Smith-Clark left the luxury car manufacturer, Graber began to design the bodywork. Graber’s death in 1970 also marked the end of the history of Carrosserie Graber. A total of around 800 vehicles were produced in Wichtrach. The company remained as a bodywork repair shop until it was taken over by a well-known Swiss classic car restorer in 2001.