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Lot 239: 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback

Spirit of Motoring, Coys (29 September 2005)

To many connoisseurs the Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars of the Fifties and early Sixties were the last cars displaying the traditional craftsmanship for which Rolls-Royce had become world-famous. Their separate chassis allowed an uncommon elegance of coachwork design, either by the Crewe factory itself or by independent coachbuilders such as H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young; the unitary construction of body and chassis of all subsequent models all but ended such a traditional association. The Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and Bentley S series, announced in April 1955, employed such a chassis. Power was provided by the 4,887cc straight six engine of the R-Type Continental producing an estimated 158bhp which, via the four speed automatic transmission, allowed a top speed of 100mph.The use of the term Continental to indicate a high performance version of an existing chassis was an inspiration of Sir Henry Royce, and was first applied to the short chassis version of the Phantom II in 1930. Pleased with the success of the R-Type Continental, Bentley decided to offer a Continental version of the S series as well.H. J. Mulliner, now part of the Rolls-Royce empire, had been responsible for the fine looking, two-door, fastback cars whose aerodynamic lines were only infringed upon by the degree of conservatism expected of it by its clientele, demanding that at the very least the traditional Bentley radiator should be retained. Although the R-type's 120 inch wheelbase was increased to 123 inches on the S-type, there was only a minimum of alteration needed to make Mulliner's lovely body fit the new model, the only noticeable differentiation being the introduction of scalloping into the rear mudguard's.The car offered today, chassis number BC 53 BG was originally ordered by Lord Carnegie, the Duke of Fife, in December 1956 with a number of special features including unique rear wings and radiator shell. The car has benefited from a restoration by factory agents SC Gordon and Broughtons of Cheltenham to the highest possible standard. Finished in Brewster green with beige leather interior piped in green, has the added benefit of factory fitted air conditioning. The car is described as being in excellent condition all round, and has both current road tax and a MoT certificate valid until June 2006. An interesting history file accompanies the car with a fascinating copy of the original specification and build sheets which shows all special features installed on the car; not only unique bodywork, but also special interior details ordered by Lord Carnegie. Invoices, old MoT's, original service books and handbooks are also included as well as a complete toolkit. This S1 Fastback is being sold with the desirable registration "PGU 7" and represents the pinnacle of Mulliner's and Bentley's post-war achievements, a combination of flowing coachwork and smooth 6-cylinder power, the opportunity to acquire an example in excellent condition such as this is not to be missed.

Lot Details
Auction Spirit of Motoring
Coys, Westminster, London SW1
TypeCar
Lot Number239
Estimate£90000-£100000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£115747
Year1956
Condition rating0
Registration numberPGU 7
Mileage-
Chassis numberBC 53 BG
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors