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Lot 700: 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Sports Saloon
Coachwork by H J Mulliner

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

Described by The Autocar as, ‘A new stage in the evolution of the post-war Bentley,’ the magnificent Continental sports saloon has been synonymous with effortless high speed cruising in the grand manner since its introduction on the R-Type chassis in 1952. With the arrival of the final generation of six-cylinder cars, the all-new Silver Cloud and Bentley S-Type, the Continental lost some of its individuality but none of its exclusivity. Eulogising about Bentley's new ‘S’ Series cars, introduced in April 1955, The Autocar wrote, ‘the latest Bentley model offers a degree of safety, comfort and performance that is beyond the experience and perhaps even the imagination of the majority of the world’s motorists.’
Later, in October that same year, the Bentley Continental became available on the ‘S’ chassis. ‘It brings Bentley back to the forefront of the world’s fastest cars,’ Autocar said of the H J Mulliner-styled fastback, which was the quickest four/five-seater saloon of its day. The Bentley S-Type’s new box-section chassis incorporated improved brakes and suspension and an enlarged (to 4,887cc) and more powerful version of the existing inlet-over-exhaust six-cylinder engine, which for the first time was identical in specification in its Rolls and Bentley forms. The Continental version came with shorter radiator and higher gearing and, for a time at least, could be ordered with right-hand change manual transmission. As had been the case with the original R-Type, the new S-Type Continental was only ever available as a coachbuilt car; the designs produced by independent coachbuilders for the S1 Continental chassis being among era’s the most stylish, although – arguably – none ever improved on H J Mulliner’s sublime original.
The present owner acquired this S-type Continental in November 1970, at which time the recorded mileage stood at approximately 86,000, and since then has added another 11,800-or-so miles to that total. It is believed that the car has had three owners from new, the immediately preceding being two brothers – owner’s of a construction firm and known to the vendor – who kept the car for around 12 years. Chassis number ‘BC84AF’ has not been fully restored and remains in good original condition. The car was repainted in its original Midnight Blue livery in 1971 and recently the wheel discs were re-chromed, while the interior is totally original with the exception of the wood veneer, which has been wax polished to restore its colour. In September 1962 (at 54,129 miles) the engine underwent a top-end overhaul at the Crewe factory, receiving an 8.0:1 compression ratio ’head, and since then has performed perfectly, only requiring the routine replacement of sundry cork gaskets and carburettor parts. There has been substantial replacement of ‘consumables’ over the years, including suspension components, bearings, brakes, rubber seals and electrical items, using genuine Rolls-Royce/Bentley parts wherever possible. The tyres were replaced a little over 3,000 miles ago.
Departures from the original specification have been confined to fitting a stainless-steel exhaust system, sealed beam headlights and dual filament sidelights to supplement the amber traffic indicator fog lights, while the box-section chassis members have been injected with Waxoyl.
For the past 37 years the car has been kept in a heated garage, for most of that time on axle stands. Universally admired on the rare occasions it has been taken out, this most elegant motor car comes with its original factory and H J Mulliner handbooks, original tool kit, Rolls-Royce Motors workshop manual and two-volume parts list; and expired MoT certificates dating back to 1970 confirming mileage. The car is offered with current road fund licence, MoT to October 2008 and Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
Lot Number700
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£85000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£95000
Condition rating
Registration numberYFW 965
Chassis numberBC84AF
Engine numberBC83A
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors