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1958 Bentley Continental S1 news, pictures, specifications, and information

Saloon
Coachwork: James Young
 
The S-1 Continental was produced from 1955 until 1959. Most base-series S1s were factory-made steel sedans, but 431 S1 Continentals were custom-built by outside coach makers. This left-hand drive model is one of seven by James Young coachworks and the first with factory air conditioning. The car was imported by Inskip Motors on August 15, 1958, to Carroll B. Waterman, Mobile, AL. 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, and power hydraulic front and mechanical rear drum brakes.
Two Door Hardtop Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
 
The Bentley S1 Continental was produced in very limited numbers from 1955 through 1959. There were only 33 left-hand drive bodies made by Park Ward in the fixed head coupe style.

The S1 Continental was designed for drivers in search of high-speed touring. The body is completely aluminum paneled for light weight. The inline six-cylinder 4.9-liter engine develops 178 horsepower and is coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. Top speed is listed at 120 mph, and Bentley claimed the Continental S1 as the fastest four-seat coupe in the world.

This newly restored example is adorned in a two-tone paint combination of antelope over garnet that underlines the elegant design of this coach-built Bentley. The sumptuous rose beige leather seats are piped in contrasting deep burgundy. The wooden dashboard and door caps are finished in finely detailed wood veneer.
Two Door Hardtop Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
Chassis Num: BC22FM
 
This 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe with coachwork by Park Ward was offered for sale at the 2007 Christie's Auction of 'Exceptional Motor Cars at the Monterey Jet Center'. It is one of 431 Continentals produced during the five-years of production. At the time, they were the fastest four-seater production cars in the world. The original sale price for a Park Ward S1 Continental was $18,605, at auction this car was estimated to sell for $400,000 - $500,000.

This left-hand drive vehicle is finished in silver over black, black canvas top, and red leather interior. The six-cylinder F-head engine produces 178 bhp and is matted to a four-speed automatic gearbox. It was original a right-hand drive, but was converted by its second owner, a US resident.

The original owner was a UK resident and there the car would remain for most of its life, until the early nineties. Before coming to the US it had been treated to a restoration. A second restoration has been undertaken since that time.

The car is in excellent condition and retains its original comprehensive tool kits. It has the correct air conditioning system and a power soft top.

This vehicle would leave the auction unsold.
Drop Head Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
 
Between 1956 and 1959 some 31 left-hand drive drop head coupes were built by Park Ward on the Bentley Continental S1 chassis. This car's aluminum body sits on a 123-inch chassis powered by a 298 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine with a quoted 178 horsepower that might push the heavy, smooth riding car to 120 miles per hour.

Park War was based in Willesden, North London brought together in 1919 by a Mr. William Park and Mr. Charles Ward, both of whom had previously worked at Sizaire-Berwick. They quickly became associated with Rolls-Royce and Bentley. In 1933, Rolls-Royce bought into the company; six years later they owned all the stock. In 1961, Park Ward merged with H.J. Mulliner.
Fastback
Coachwork: Mulliner
 
This H.J. Mulliner Fastback is one of only 24 left-hand drives built and only 12 are known to exist today. This late example was initially ordered by Josephine Tarafa of Havana, Cuba, with an impressive list of one-off extras that included high speed driving lamps, front wing air intakes with cockpit vents, front vent wing rain gutters, four ceiling mounted reading lamps, an eight-day clock, altimeter, fuel pump, isolator switch, reclining seats with map pockets to their backs, air horns, privacy curtains and outside mounted spare tire carrier. An original period air conditioner and fitted luggage have since been added.

All the original documents and complete tools in their Mulliner box have survived. This spectacular high-speed tourer is possibly the finest example currently existing anywhere.
Drop Head Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
Chassis Num: BC43LCH
 
First introduced in 1955, the Bentley S-Type, retrospectively known as the S1, was a much larger car than the Bentley R-Type that it replaced. Differing only in its radiator and badging from the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, the S1s power came from an enlarged version of the R-Type's six-cylinder, 4887cc engine. The mildly turned S1 Continental was added six months after the introduction of the new model. The brisker performing Continental was not available with standard coachwork, so these were built by several coachwork companies. Park Ward built this example, one of 31 left-hand drive Drop Head Coupes. This car (BC43LCH) won its class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1963.

It is a 37,000-mile example, that was delivered to Lucius Beebe and his life-partner, Charles Clegg, on May 28, 1958. The original cost was nearly $35,000. It was acquired by Mark Tuttle; at that time, it had traversed 33,324 miles. Mr. Tuttle took fine care of the car and it was acquired from his estate by the current owner in 2008, showing just 37,633 miles.

The original Rose Beige lacquer has since been stripped and the body freshly refinished in Pewter to compliment the tan hide interior. Correctly ducted air conditioning has been added, and the car is a delight to drive. All of the original books and an extensive history have also survived.
Drop Head Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
Chassis Num: BC3LDJ
 
High bid of $385,000 at 2011 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
Founded by W.O. Bentley in 1919 at New Streets Mews in London, Bentley Motors had been born after 'W.O.' had already made a name for himself building rotary engines for British World War I aircraft. Such aircraft as the Sopwith Camel would be powered by Bentley's engines.

With such an engineering pedigree, it was an almost natural phenomenon that Bentley would turn to automobiles at war's end. By the early 1920s, Bentley had become synonymous with quality and performance. This reputation would be firmly cemented when Bentleys would go on to secure five 24 Hours of Le Mans victories. The first would come in 1924 with its 3-liter Sport. Then, from 1927 through 1930 Bentley would dominate as their models, like the 3-liter Super Sport and the 4.5-liter model known as 'Old Mother Gun', would go on to score four-straight 24 Hours of Le Mans victories.

Bentley would go on to build some very elegant saloons and cabriolets in the years before World War II. After the war, Rolls Royce and Bentley car was moved to an engine factory in Crewe, Cheshire. It would be from there that Bentley would first introduce its Continental Coupe. The Continental would come to define Bentley. The inferred meaning of the name meant it all: intended to transport its passengers in absolute comfort over long distances. But in the case of the S1, the exterior of the car was as romantic as its interior. Its elegant and sleek body styling seemed just right travelling through the air. Lightly touched with such chrome accents as the grille, headlights and front and rear bumpers, the simple, and yet, rich detailing would grab attention at almost every angle.

In all, there would be seven body styles of the S1 Continental offered. One of those chassis types, an S1 Continental Drophead Coupe; built by Park Ward, would be offered at this year's RM Auction in Monterey, California.

Chassis number BC3LDJ would be brought brand new by Karl's Shoe Store Ltd. in 1957. Of course Harry Karl would become quite well known as the husband of the famous Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds. The car would actually begin its life as a model built for the Los Angeles Auto Show. There would be 185 Bentley S1 Continentals built with Park Ward bodies. Of those 185, only 31 would come with left-hand drive drophead coupes. Therefore, this car is just 1 of 31 examples, which already makes the car something special.

With a 6-cylinder, 4.8-liter engine capable of pushing the car up to speeds around 120 mph, Karl had a car that not only could go fast but it did so in such comfort that it was like sitting in one's chair in a robe and slippers, smoking a pipe and reading a good book.

Throughout the last couple of decades the car has been a part of a number of prominent collections and has been looked after quite extensively. Completed with a black and silver finish, the exquisite Continental also boasts of red Connolly leather and a burled walnut interior. With such refinements and intriguing history the car was expected to earn between $850,000 and $1,000,000 at auction.

Elegant and tasteful, beautiful and stunning, there just are not enough adjectives to describe Bentley's defining model of luxurious driving comfort and performance.

At auction, bidding reached $385,000 but was not enough to satisfy the reserve. It would leave the auction unsolved.

Sources:
'Feature Lots: Lot No: 153: 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park', (http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r200&fc=0). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r200&fc=0. Retrieved 16 August 2011.

'World of Bentley: About Bentley', (http://www.bentleymotors.com/world_of_bentley/about_bentley/). Bentley. http://www.bentleymotors.com/world_of_bentley/about_bentley/. Retrieved 16 August 2011.

Wikipedia contributors, 'Bentley', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 August 2011, 21:59 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bentley&oldid=444869408 accessed 16 August 2011

By Jeremy McMullen
Two Door Hardtop Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.
Chassis Num: BC35LDJ
Engine Num: BC34D
 
Sold for $511,500 at 2014 RM Auctions.
This Bentley S1 Continental is believed to be one of ten build by Park Ward of London, to this coupe design on a left-hand drive chassis. The design was originally created for the 1957 Paris Show and had a wraparound rear window, large rear quarter windows, narrow C-pillars, and small tailfins.

This car is one of six of the original ten known to survive. It was ordered through Reyreca, the Rolls-Royce dealer in Caracas, Venezuela, by Luis Enrique Pérez Velutini, and it was the only Park Ward Coupe delivered new to that country. Mr. Perez Velutini elected not to purchase the completed car, and upon arrival in Caracas, it was acquired instead by his cousin, Miquel H. Velutini. The Bentley would remain in the care of the Velutini family until 1996, when it was acquired from Mrs. Velutini by a Venezuelan enthusiast.

The car has been given a frame-off restoration which included a bare-metal refinish in Sand. The interior is finished in Connolly leather with the correct Wilton wool carpeting.

By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2014
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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