Get behind the origin story of Bell & Ross’ new Bellytanker collection

Get behind the origin story of Bell & Ross’ new Bellytanker collection


Text: Angelyn Kwek

The Bell & Ross Bellytanker has a cross-industry patrimony that might just surprise you

If the first mental image you associate 'bellytank' with is some sort of mahoosive container, you're actually not too far off. It's an emergency drop tank fitted onto the hull of fighter planes in World War II, except it's less hulk and more aerodynamic. Shaped like a droplet, the lines of the bellytank seemed structurally predisposed for racing, and with some clever re-purposing by American speed freak Bill Burke in 1946, became an ultra-fast car that navigated the Bonneville salt flats races. And thus the world's first Bellytanker came into existence, homemade directly from the spare tanks of the fighter planes and retrofitted by Burke to include a V8 engine.

Bell & Ross Bellytanker

Now an iconic part of both aeronautical and motoring history, this unexpected racecar has inspired Bell & Ross to design its own vehicle, riffing off the later models of the Bellytanker to create a new automobile that's at once vintage and futuristic. The latest in a series of extreme machines developed by the maison — kind of a given, what with Bell & Ross's aviation and military influences — this exclusive Bellytanker has in turn given rise to two limited edition timepieces that take after its design codes. Behold the BR V1-92 and the BR V2-94, the former a classic version for the purists and the latter equipped with a chronograph and steel bracelet to echo a sportier vibe.

Bell & Ross Bellytanker

Translated from the Bell & Ross Bellytanker, the brushed steel case is a nod to the car's metal bodywork while the ultra-curved crystal over the dial comes from the cockpit's protective windshield. Further alluding to the heyday of the Bellytanker, the watches sport a copper-cultured trim along the dials reminiscent of timepieces from that era. Solid casebacks on both models feature an engraving of the Bellytanker, and dial-side up they're even colour-coded to match in a metallic copper shade found on the wheel rims. If you've a love for cars and all things vintage, this re-born classic in all its glorious backstory will be pretty hard to resist.

The Bellytanker collection is available at Bell & Ross boutiques, limited to 500 pieces for each model.

For last week's #FirstClassFriday, click here.

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