Chassis number LLBA9 is a desirable long-wheelbase model, fitted from new with this incredible coachwork by Wendler Karrosserie of Germany. For years, the story of this remarkable automobile was shrouded in mystery. The origins of its elegant coachwork and the identity of the first owner were the subject of much speculation. But thanks to the efforts of marque experts and historians, the story is now straightforward – and no less impressive! Documentation sourced via the Rolls-Royce Foundation shows chassis LLBA9 was ordered via the famed New York dealer J.S. Inskip. This left-drive car is one of the six long-wheelbase S2 chassis delivered to an outside coachbuilder, in this case, Wendler Karosseriebau of Germany. Wendler had a long-standing tradition of building fascinating and beautiful designs of the highest quality. They made their first motor bodies in 1919, soon expanding into coachwork for commercial trucks. Their portfolio is genuinely fascinating and includes many highly advanced streamlined designs on BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even a Ford V8 chassis. Perhaps their most famous relationship was with Porsche, for whom Wendler bodied numerous road-going 356s in addition to creating the svelte coachwork for the legendary 550 Spyder, RSK, and RS61 racing cars.
Turning back to LLBA9, the factory build sheets appear in the name of the anonymous buyer's agent, Mr. E.C. Endt. The mystery only deepened when it was revealed the address on the order form came back to that of the New York Yacht Club. Marque historians have shown the buyer to be Mrs. Caroline Ryan Foulke, the fabulously wealthy heiress to the American Tobacco Company. Anonymity was vital to her, though the thoroughly unique body she commissioned for her Bentley seems to contradict that idea. Before purchasing the Bentley, Mrs. Foulke drove a gorgeous one-off estate car based on the Mercedes-Benz 300 d "Adenauer" built by Binz Karrosserie. When she wished to replace it with a newer model, Mercedes-Benz Manhattan politely declined her request for an estate version of the new W112 300-series, so she turned to Bentley, who was more than happy to accommodate her needs.
Once the chassis arrived at Wendler, the coachbuilder followed their client's wishes directly, creating a unique estate car (or shooting brake as it were) by grafting elements of the Mercedes W112 300 body onto the Bentley chassis. Wendler stretched, reformed, and reinforced the panels, and many of the factory Mercedes fittings were used, such as the lights and exterior trim. A significant number of parts had to be fabricated by hand to suit the scale of the Bentley chassis and the new shooting brake configuration. The result of the effort is a remarkable machine that is instantly recognizable as both a Mercedes-Benz and a Bentley, simultaneously. The finishing flourish was a medium gray paint job accented with a blue and red stripe diagonally on the front wings. Initially, some believed this livery was related to yachting, but it was later revealed that the colors were those of her horse racing stables.