The Elegant, Refined and Beautiful Bentley S1 Continental

Bentley ranks among the most famous automotive marques in history. Founded by WO Bentley in 1919, its cars – built in Cricklewood, London – were highly successful in motor sport. Bentley was the first British manufacturer to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, and had done so no fewer than five times by 1930. From 1950 until 1959, all Bentley cars featured an enlarged version of its legendary six-cylinder engine. No other motor offers the same silence, smoothness and total absence of vibration as this powerplant.

The Continental option was an upgrade featuring more sporty suspension, a higher rear axle ratio and a rev counter. This option made these large and elegant Bentleys surprisingly sporty and nimble to drive. On the coachwork side, one particular model remains a milestone in the history of post-war Bentley models – the S1 Continental Park Ward Drophead Coupé. For reasons never quite understood, the S1 Continental Park Ward handles significantly better than its contemporaries by HJ Mulliner & Co, James Young, and Freestone & Webb, which is most likely to do with the way the bodies are attached to the chassis. Equally, the Park Ward Drophead design is perhaps the most beautiful of any post-war Bentley.

Originally supplied in July 1956 to Mr AJ Challe, with the UK registration plate SYP 701, a S1 Continental Park Ward Drophead that I viewed at the Concours of Elegance in 2020 is one of only 31 left-hand-drive examples built between 1956 and 1959. The present owner uses the car, chassis number BC26LBG, frequently on classic events, and had it fully restored by Clark & Carter in Essex. The Midnight Blue S1 Continental Drophead Coupé was awarded a trophy at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This was the car’s first-ever entry, and the accolade was highly fitting for this, the 100th anniversary of the Bentley marque.

ENGINE

4.9-litre, six-cylinder, overhead valve, 170bhp, twin carburettors

CONFIGURATION

Front engine, four-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive separate chassis, coil-spring front suspension, semi-elliptic springs at rear, drum brakes all round

What a beautiful looking car. A rare car. Many more rare cars here.

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