1957 Bentley Continental S1 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Drophead Coupe
Designer: Park Ward
The 1957 Bentley Continental S-1 is one of 31 left-driver, Park Ward alloy bodied drophead coupes built between 1956 and 1959. This late example is equipped an upgraded engine with oversized valves and a larger carburetor. Other features included heavier rear axle shafts, dual master cylinders, power steering and a power operated convertible top. Interior features on this particular specimen include Radford type locking covers to the door cubbies, wide rear seat armrest with lockable lid, silver inlays to the wood faces, MPH/KPH scales to the speedometer, upgraded radio and search light to the trunk.

The car is powered by an in-line 6-cylinder, 298 cubic inch (4.9 liter) engine, developing 178 horsepower coupled to a 4-speed automatic transmission. The chassis consists of front coil-springs and rear semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, with anti-roll bars; cam-and-roller steering, power hydraulic front and mechanical rear drum brakes. Top speed is listed at 120 miles per hour.
Chassis Num: BC30LCH
Sold for $1,136,770 (€1,069,500) at 2017 Bonhams.
In 1955, a new Bentley, known as the S-Type, was launched using a 4.9 liter, straight six engine. The car continued through three generations, the S1, S2, and S3 - the later cars using an aluminum V8 engine, which is the forerunner of today's 6.75 l  [Read More...]
Drophead Coupe
Designer: Park Ward
When the S-Type Bentley replaced the R-Type, the high-end series of this great luxury car was once again the Continental. The S-Type (and the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud) received a new chassis with a wheelbase that was three inches longer (at 123 inch  [Read More...]
Saloon
Coachwork: Freestone & Webb
Chassis Num: 1B532EG
Engine Num: BE 266
Sold for $66,000 at 2008 Gooding & Company.
This 1957 Bentley S1 Saloon was delivered to coachbuilders Freestone & Webb on May 24th of 1957. The car was fitted with power-assisted steering and a four-speed automatic Turbo-Hydra-matic transmission. The work was commissioned by dealer, H.R. Ow  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2009
Sports Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
This Bentley S1 Continental Park War is one of just 33 left drive Park Ward S Continental Sport Coupes built between 1955 and 1959. This is perhaps one of six to wear the latest configuration of the series and was the 1957 Paris Salon Car. It is equi  [Read More...]
Drophead Coupe
Designer: Park Ward
This Bentley S1 Continental is a well-documented late specification specimen and one of just 31 left-hand drives built between 1955 and 1959. It was delivered in 1957 to Baroness Pannonica Rothschild de Koeningswater. Upon her demise in 1988, ownersh  [Read More...]
Sports Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
This is a nicely documented, late specification example of 33 left-drives built in 1955-1959. In June of 1957, this sports Coupe was delivered tin Monte Carlo to the Greek Shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos and elegantly finished in Circassian Blue wi  [Read More...]
Saloon
Coachwork: Hooper
Rolls-Royce introduced all newly designed cars in 1946: the Silver Dawn, Silver Wraith and Mark VI Bentley.  [Read More...]
Sports Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
The S1 Park Ward Continental Coupe is a unique, high performance car and is one of 33 left-drive examples built by coachbuilder Park Ward. It was intended to be larger and more generously sized than the previous R-Type models and was specifically man  [Read More...]
Drophead Coupe
Designer: Park Ward
Chassis Num: BC3LCH
Engine Num: BC3C
Sold for $297,000 at 2017 Gooding & Company.
The aluminum bodied Bentley Continental had aerodynamic coachwork and contrasted greatly with the Bentley standard steel cars of the time. They both shared an identical chassis and engine, however the Continental had a 2.923 rear axle instead of the   [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017
Fastback
Designer: Mulliner
Chassis Num: BC96LBG
Engine Num: BC95B
Sold for $781,000 at 2017 RM Auctions.
This Bentley S1 Continental Fastback Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner is one of only 22 left-hand-drive cars that were built to the Mulliner fastback sports saloon design. It is a relatively late-production example that benefits from the upgraded engin  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017
The Bentley S1 was produced from 1955 through 1959 during which 3538 examples were created with 145 being outfitted with custom bodies. 431 examples were Bentley S1 Continentals. Thirty-five of the Bentley S1's sat atop a long wheelbase. Some of the notable coachbuilders who outfitted the S1's were Park Ward and H.J. Mulliner.
The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I and the Bentley S1 were nearly identical, except for different badging and radiators. Mechanically, they were identical. Under the hood was an F-head 4887 cc straight six Crewe engine with cast-iron cylinder block and aluminum alloy cylinder heads. A dual SU carburetor type HD6 was used from 1955 through 1957. From 1957 through 1959, a dual SU carburetor type HD8 was used. A four speed automatic gearbox was standard; however, a four-speed manual unit was available as optional equipment. Stopping power was provided by drum brakes. The vehicles were adorned in two-tone paintwork with the hood finished in the lower color.

Six months after the introduction of the S1, Bentley introduced the S1 Continental, a name that had also been used as early as 1952 on the R-Type sedan. The Continental versions featured a slightly tuned engine and other performance features. Bentley claimed the Continental as 'the fastest four-seater in the world'. The engines were modified by enlarging the bore which increased the displacement to 4.9 liters. With the standard automatic gearbox and the added weight of optional power steering and power windows, the increase in engine size was well received by Bentley customers. The steel-body was replaced with aluminum, thus reducing the overall weight of the vehicle.
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2006
When Bentley was purchased by the Volkswagen conglomerate in 1998, many fans of the marque feared the brand would lose its identity. With long time brother Rolls-Royce getting sold off to a different parent company, though, those worries were unwarranted.

Prior to the 1930's, Rolls-Royce and Bentley were serious competitors. Both firms offered their unique interpretations on the English gentleman's car theme. Walter Owen Bentley was a better car builder than businessman, though, and his company was facing serious financial hardships by the early 1930's.

Rolls-Royce Ltd. bought the troubled Bentley facilities in 1931. The first Roll-Royce-produced Bentley, the 3½ Litre, debuted for 1933. From this point until Volkswagen's purchase of the works in 1998, Bentley produced near twins of Rolls-Royce cars, with an occasional special vehicle of its own. Bentley and Rolls produced some of the finest four-wheeled machines in the world during their partnership, but the Bentley brand retained little identity of its own. Bentleys were essentially badge-engineered cars. They were the slightly sportier counterparts of contemporary Rollers.

Proof of this can be found throughout the histories of the two companies, but the Bentley S1 is a great place to start. Produced from 1955 through 1959, the S1 was mechanically and visually (in standard coachwork, at least) identical to the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I in most ways. We've all seen Silver Clouds patiently waiting outside churches on wedding days, clad in white with dignified grilles gleaming. The Bentley, though, was a stronger seller despite its relative lack of fame.

A total of 3,538 Bentley S1's were produced. Of these, 3,072 were of the standard S1 variety on standard chassis. There were 35 made with long-wheelbase chassis. The remaining 431 were S1 Continentals.

The ancient F-series engine, a straight six design, powered the S1 and displaced 4,887cc. It had an iron block with an alloy head. Twin SU carburetors were employed in good British taste, and an automatic transmission was standard fare with an available 4-speed manual offered upon request.

The most impressive S1, in terms of both presence and performance, was the Continental. Rolls-Royce and Bentley were not in the habit of announcing such pedestrian numbers as horsepower ratings during S1 production, so it's unknown how much more power the Continental had over the standard S1. Other improvements were obvious, though, and the Continental's intentions were made clear regardless of its hazy power output figures.

Braking, steering, and suspension systems were all reworked to give Continentals a more controllable feel. They were not available with standard coachwork. The H.J. Mulliner Fastback Saloon body seen on many S1 Continentals resembles that of the supremely expensive R Continental which preceded it. An imposing and handsome design, a mammoth grille of the traditionally curved Bentley style stood upright at the nose of the vehicle. A long hood bridged the expansive gap between the radiator grille's top and the rakish windshield's bottom, and from there all body lines flowed downward and back in a sweeping motion to create an impression of speed even at standstill.

The S1 with standard coachwork was, as stated, a Silver Cloud I twin with a revised grille and new badging. It took the Continental version of the S1 to provide Bentley with a unique car that was in the honest spirit of the maker.

If you walk into a Bentley dealer today, you will notice, amongst other cars, a wonderfully styled fastback named Continental. It has a unique design and an engine with astounding grunt. It was designed to go, stop, and handle with aplomb, and bears no resemblance to any modern Rolls-Royce. So the next time you mistake a standard S1 for a Silver Cloud, ask yourself just how much of Bentley's innate identity was lost to Volkswagen.

Sources:

Kinney, Dave. 'Bentley S1 Continental.' Sports Car Market Apr 2005 21 Mar 2009 http://www.sportscarmarket.com/Profiles/2005/April/English/.

'Bentley S1 and Bentley S1 Continental; Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I: Bentley 3 1/2 Litre.' Rolls Royce and Bentley 21 Mar 2009 http://www.rrab.com/.

By Evan Acuña
 
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Corniche
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R Type and Continental
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S2 and Continental
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T-Series
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Image Left 1956 S11958 Continental S1 Image Right
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