To many connoisseurs the Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars of the Fifties and early Sixties were the last cars displaying the traditional craftsmanship for which Rolls-Royce had become world-famous. Their separate chassis allowed an uncommon elegance of coachwork design, either by the Crewe factory itself or by independent coachbuilders such as H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young; the unitary construction of body and chassis of all subsequent models all but ended such a traditional association.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and Bentley S series, announced in April 1955, employed such a chassis. Power was provided by the 4,887cc straight six engine of the R-Type Continental producing an estimated 158bhp which, via the four speed automatic transmission, allowed a top speed of 100mph.
The use of the term Continental to indicate a high performance version of an existing chassis was an inspiration of Sir Henry Royce, and was first applied to the short chassis version of the Phantom II in 193