1958 Bentley Continental S1

Vehicle Profiles

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle 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 ....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

Two Door Hardtop Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.

Chassis Num: BC48LCH
Engine Num: BC47C

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.....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

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 p....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

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 horse....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

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 spee....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

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 en....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

Drop Head Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.

Chassis Num: BC3LDJ

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....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

Two Door Hardtop Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.

Chassis Num: BC35LDJ
Engine Num: BC34D

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 w....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

Two Door Hardtop Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.

Chassis Num: BC3 LFM
Engine Num: BC3 F

Replacing the R-Type Continental in 1955, the Bentley S1 Continental was conceived as an exclusively coachbuilt car. A total of 432 chassis were made. The Continental was the most powerful 5-seat sports saloon on the road, with a top speed of 120 mph....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

Drop Head Coupe
Coachwork: Park Ward & Co.

Chassis Num: BC25LDJ

The Bentley S1 followed the R-Type in late 1955 and was one of the era's most stylish motor cars. The Park Ward Drophead Coupe on this S1 is the work of legendary coachwork designer John Blatchley, famous for the Mulliner-bodied R-Type Continental. I....[continue reading]

1958 Bentley Continental S1 vehicle information

Convertible
Coachwork: Mulliner

Chassis Num: B212LFA

The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and its Bentley equivalent, the S-Type, were introduced in 1955 as replacements for the aging Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn and Bentley R-Type. For the first time since Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley their models shared the same ....[continue reading]

Saloon by James Young
 
Two Door Hardtop Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC48LCH 
Two Door Hardtop Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC22FM 
Drop Head Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
 
Fastback by Mulliner
 
Drop Head Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC43LCH 
Drop Head Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC3LDJ 
Two Door Hardtop Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC35LDJ 
Two Door Hardtop Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC3 LFM 
Drop Head Coupe by Park Ward & Co.
Chassis #: BC25LDJ 
Convertible by Mulliner
Chassis #: B212LFA 

History

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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