1956 Bentley S1
Year of manufacture1956
Number of seats2
1956 Bentley S1 Continental Sports Saloon
Coachwork by Park Ward Ltd
Registration no. SLX 3
Chassis no. BC67AF
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. Of the 431 Bentley S1 Continentals produced between 1955 and 1959, 185 were bodied by Rolls-Royce's in-house coachbuilder, Park Ward Ltd, of which 63 were left-hand drive and 122 right-hand drive.
Right-hand drive chassis number 'BC67AF' was delivered new in the UK to one B McGowan and first registered as 'HGS 918'. This remarkable car has spent most of its life, just over 50 years, in the ownership of just three individuals on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1967, the eminent Rolls-Royce historian, John Webb de Campi, author of Rolls-Royce in America, who at that time was living in London, acquired the Bentley and had it shipped to his home in Pennsylvania. The Continental remained in his ownership until 1980 when it was acquired by a Dr Peter Walling of Dallas, Texas. The Bentley returned to the UK in late 1988 and was acquired by the current owner in 1989.
The current owner, since 1989, has looked after the car with the utmost care. Its use has been regular, albeit limited to outings such as visits to race circuits, including almost every Goodwood Revival Meeting since 1998, and longer excursions to the South of France, Scotland, and the Lake District.
Finished in Regal Red with beige leather interior, this sublime Bentley Continental is described by the vendor as in excellent condition throughout, having led a cosseted life both at home and in the USA. The service history file is equally impressive, stretching back well over 50 years (perusal recommended).