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Car of the Month - December 2001
Bentley S1 Continental, 1957, #BC27CH
Park Ward Two Door Saloon

Bentley S1 Continental

As regards technical layout only minor differences distinguished the Bentley S1 Continental from the mainstream model Bentley S1. Chassis and engine were common to both - though on early series of the S1 Continental the engine showed a slightly raised compression. In connection with a “longer” rear axle ratio a higher top speed was gained. A test in The Autocar (21st Dec 1956 issue) reported a top speed of 120.5 mph had been measured - not even the later S2 Continental and S3 Continental models powered by 6¼-litre-V8engines ever achieved a better result during tests by journalists.

Bentley S1 Continental

The lion's share of bodies were made by H.J. Mulliner and most of the output of this coachbuilder was similar to their ¼-scale model as illustrated here. This was a “traditional” styling, in so far as it could be traced back to the fastback two door saloons built by H.J. Mulliner for the predecessor Bentley R Continental. A few Bentley R Continental had been clothed by Park Ward, too, who built 2 coupes and 4 drop head coupes. The drawings had been provided by John Polwhele Blatchley. He had become boss of Rolls-Royce's styling centre and thus had some influence at Park Ward, because Park Ward was a wholly owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce.

Bentley S1 ContinentalPark Ward's coupé version met with much acclaim and - accordingly adapted to the Bentley S1 Continental chassis with increased wheelbase and wider track - was offered for the R-type's successor, too. Rolls-Royce nor Bentley preferred the term “two door saloon” instead of coupé (although in fact this was one). The price tag on the complete car for a purchaser in the home market was £7.164; that did include £2.389 purchase tax.

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Bentley S1 Continental

An automatic gearbox was standard on the Bentley S1 Continental. The Hydramatic gearbox developed by General Motors, was produced by Rolls-Royce under license. Several customer expressed a desire for a manual gearbox - and their wish was command. No less an authority than the late Stanley Sedgwick, Patron of the Bentley Drivers' Club, in his “Twenty Years of Crewe Bentleys 1946-1965” stated the last manual gearbox had been fitted to Bentley S1 Continental with chassis number #BC79BG. Most presumably Stanley had taken this information from factory documents. However these might have been slightly inaccurate because the S1 Continental shown here is from a later chassis-series and extras are a sliding sunroof - and a manual gearbox…

Bentley S1 Continental


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