1956 Bentley S1 ContinentalSOLD

1956 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe

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To be offered at auction at RM Sotheby's Monterey event, August 13-15, 2015. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/.

Chassis No.
BC54LAF

Estimate:
$900,000 - $1,200,000

Est. 178 bhp, 4,887 cc F-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 123 in.


Offered from over 25 years of dedicated enthusiast ownership
One of 31 left-hand-drive chassis bodied to this design
Originally owned by prominent New York investor Thomas Neelands

The Continental name evokes high-speed travel over long distances in the lap of luxury. Fittingly, that is exactly the experience that Bentley's Continental models provided to the favored few during the 1950s.

The S1 Continental of 1955 featured the last of Bentley's long-lived six-cylinder engine, which, being a Rolls-Royce design, was smooth and silent but also appropriately powerful. Road-test figures published in Autocar recorded a top speed of 120.5 mph. An exceptionally rigid welded box-section chassis was mounted on a new front suspension that had a semi-trailing wishbone and repositioned rear springs, which improved handling and softened the ride, while a three-way safety braking setup enabled sure stops at the end of those high-speed journeys. The rear suspension was electrically controlled, and it could be changed to normal or hard by a switch on the steering column.

While successive V-8-powered S2 and S3 Continentals were also offered until well into the 1960s, many viewed the S1 as the more desirable model; it is simpler, lighter, and slightly quicker, and it accomplishes all this while still being luxuriously comfortable, in the British tradition.

OVER 25 YEARS OF ENTHUSIAST OWNERSHIP

Chassis number BC54LAF is the most desirable catalogued S1 Continental body style, the drophead coupe by Park Ward. Unlike the majority of Bentley convertibles in this era, this style is not an adaptation from factory sedan stampings but a fully custom body built from the ground up by Park Ward's craftsmen. It is distinguished by its smooth, subtle body lines, with long fully flow-through fenders that flow from the front to the rear hips and rear fenders that kick up slightly into tiny tailfins.

This car is one of thirty-one factory left-hand-drive chassis bodied by Park Ward as a drophead coupe. Copies of factory build information from the Rolls-Royce Foundation, which are on file, record it as having been equipped with sealed-beam headlamps, whitewall tires, Windtone horns, and a speedometer in miles per hour, all of which are still present today.

The car was originally delivered to Thomas D. Neelands Jr. by New York dealer J.S. Inskip on May 11, 1956. A bond salesman in the early 1920s, Mr. Neelands built a considerable fortune through bold investments and had been active in early commercial aviation efforts, including helping to create United Airlines and financing the formation of Beechcraft. He retained his Bentley until 1971, when it was acquired by William S. Payson, of Southport, Connecticut. Later that year, it passed into the long-term ownership of Leon Levine, of Schenectady, New York, before joining the care of its present owner in 1988.

Following its acquisition into the consignor's stable, the Bentley was cosmetically restored by the respected firm of Vantage Motorworks in Miami, Florida, which included being the finished in its present attractive combination of Scarlet and Claret, with an attractive beige leather interior. As the Bentley has been displayed in a climate-controlled private museum for an extended period, further mechanical sorting would be advised. It has been regularly maintained to keep it in very nice cosmetic condition, and it remains an attractive and sumptuous grand tourer, as when it was new.

It is rare indeed to find an S1 Continental Drophead Coupe—and even more so to find one so well preserved by such conscientious keepers. We are very pleased to be offering such a fine automobile from such distinguished ownership. There are few finer automobiles of their era.

Reference Number 364190

as of 8/19/2015

Overview
Car 1956 Bentley S1 Continental
VIN BC54LAF 
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