1956 Bentley S1
Year of manufacture1956
The 1956 Earls Court Motor Show
1956 Bentley S1 Continental Coupé
Coachwork by Park Ward
Registration no. 433 STD
Chassis no. BC44BG
Described by 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, 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 a 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.
The 1956 Earls Court Motor Show car, chassis number 'BC44BG' was first registered to Bowmarker Ltd as 'TGO 207'. Photocopy chassis cards and an original Rolls-Royce and Bentley sales brochure are on file. On 22nd April 1957 the Bentley changed ownership, passing to a Mr Melling, and on 9th July 1958 became the property of Frank Arden. Next owner J Rubin acquired the Continental on 3rd November 1960, and some four years later the car passed to a Mr Felix Furlonger of London, who would own it until the late 1990s/2000.
One of the three accompanying history files contains documentation dating from the 1960s and 1970s. This includes original 1964 correspondence from H J Mulliner Park Ward Ltd to Mr Furlonger confirming they have found a suitable Park Ward Continental, to which they were proposing to have a Webasto roof fitted. Enclosed with the correspondence is an original Webasto sales brochure. Also on file is H J Mulliner Park Ward's original delivery note to Mr Furlonger dated 9th March 1964 confirming his delivery and receipt of the car. There is also a vast amount of correspondence between Mr Furlonger, Bentley Motors, R S Mead Ltd, Jack Barclay, H R Owen, and the Bentley Drivers Club together with extensive service records throughout the 1960s/1970s and a number of MoT test certificates. Indeed, this car has one of the most complete early service histories we have ever seen.
The extensive service history continues into the 1980s in the second file. Still in Mr Furlonger's ownership, the car was maintained mainly by the highly regarded Bentley and Rolls-Royce expert Peter Fischer, followed by Hofmann and Mountfort Ltd/Hofmann's of Henley, and Frank Dale & Stepsons (from 1990). Photographs confirm the car was used for and entered in a wide variety of Rolls-Royce and Bentley events, and it featured on the front cover of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club bulletin of March/April 1997 (copy on file). In the late 1990s the car was maintained by Haines & Hall. There is documentation on file up to 1997.
There is then have a short gap in the Bentley's history before it reappears in 2001 in the ownership of a Mr Ingrey, who had the car maintained by P & A Wood until 2010. The Continental was then the subject of an extensive restoration. Photographs of the work are on file together with numerous invoices totalling over £47,000. Works included a professional bare metal respray in stunning Steel Blue. The interior leather was reconnolized and it received new carpets including the boot and headlining by renowned trimmers County Coachtrimmers of Maldon in 2017 (bills on file). The car given a compete service mechanically. Since then the car has formed part of a significant collection of motor cars and motorcycles in Essex. The vendor has now decided to live abroad on a permanent basis, which is the only reason for sale.
Less numerous than the H J Mulliner version, with a believed only 45 examples produced the Park Ward-bodied Bentley S1 Continental is a relatively rare variant of an already exclusive car; and this fine example, benefiting from an extensive restoration, is worthy of the closest inspection.