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Freestone & Webb

Freestone & Webb

Freestone and Webb was formed in 1923 by V.E. Freestone and A.J. Webb as a specialist coachbuilding service, based in workshops in Brentfield Road, Willesden, North London, which became its home for its entire life. Freestone had learnt his trade for working at Crossley Motors, while Webb had returned to England having trained in France. They had apparently met while working at Sizaire-Berwick's operations at Park Royal. Once out on their own, they bodied a number of Bentleys, completing about 230 before W.O. Bentley's firm entered receivership. They began building on Rolls chassis soon afterwards.

Concentrating only on bespoke Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, they developed the style known as 'Top hat', and popularised the 'Razor Edge' style. They also took a license for the Weymann fabric body technique. Probably the best Freestone & Webb styles, however, are the close-coupled fixed-head, drop-head and Sedanca coupes, and it is for these that they are particularly revered. Delivering up to 15 cars per year, they began showing at the London Motor Show, and won the Gold Medal in the private coachbuilders competition nine years in a row.

Like many independent manufacturers during World War II, they became a shadow factory, producing highly detailed and intricate wing tips for the Supermarine Spitfire. After 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 coachbuilders like Freestone and Webb tumbled, and the company began to suffer financial difficulties.

On the death of A.J. Webb in 1955, the company 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, neither of which came as a chassis only option. 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.

Subsequently dropped as a registered limited company and brand name, it was reregistered at Companies House in 1990 by an enthusiast owner, who sold it together with his 1953 Bentley 3.5 Ltr. Saloon at an auction at Brooklands, on June 2, 2010.

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