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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

Early Days

Bentley - On the road 

Bentley - 50 Years of the Marque


Car of the Month - December 2016
Bentley S1 Continental, 1956, #BC29LAF
Fixed Head Coupé by Park Ward

Bentley S1 Continental

The basic design of the 1955 launched Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and Bentley S1 had been finished by John Polwhele Blatchley already by 1950. This is documented from an interview by Davide Bassoli (author of what on these models are recognised as Standard Reference Books) with John P. Blatchley. From 1950 onward the chief stylist at the factory at Crewe had merely added minor improvements. When in 1954 from Blatchley’s design for the Bentley R-Continental six cars were built that happened during the last year of the Bentley R Continental’s production period. Such coachwork had been designed by an 'insider'  who was perfectly well informed that during 1955 the new model Bentley S1 would be unveiled and that model’s sport variation in the form of Bentley S Continental, too.

A logical conclusion is that Blatchley did not create the design merely for a microscopically small number of Bentley R Continental, but with the intention of such coachwork to be made in higher numbers on the chassis of the future Bentley S Continental. And so it did happen.

The early series of bodies by Park Ward on chassis Bentley S Continental showed the 'anomaly' of different designs as regards rear wings and tail lamp units. That is true for both body-styles, i.e. Drophead Coupé and 2-Door Saloon (of which the latter nowadays usually is described with the term Fixed Head Coupé / fhc). “Three separate lenses” were reminiscent of what had been found on the rare Bentley R Continental which had received coachwork by Park Ward to almost identical lines (though adapted to a 3 inches shorter wheelbase).

Bentley S1 Continental

It was reported in literature - if that certain aspect was mentioned at all – that clients were offered the choice to opt for either the “old pattern” or for the later variant, i.e. tail lamps identical to those found on the mainstream model Bentley S1 with standard coachwork ex-factory. However there were neither “production-figures” given for the separate variants nor were any dates stated as to when the “First” was made and the “Last” or information provided as regards the period during which the variants were made “parallel”.

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 Bentley S1 Continental

It had been reported, too,  that only during production of the first chassis-series of Bentley S1 Continental that ended on letters “AF” had existed the choice as regards separate variants of Park Ward’s Drophead Coupés or Fixed Head Coupés respectively. The last one as per Park Ward’s Drawing-No. 700, Issue-No. 1 was considered to have been #BC86AF and from then onward the coachbuilder only fitted the rear wing/tail lamp combination as per their Drawing-No. 700, Issue-No. 2. However such information  perhaps is not correct! Several photos reportedly showing #BC59BG, delivered in June 1957,  are an indication the client had opted on Park Ward coachwork to Design as per Drawing-No. 700, Issue-No. 1.

Both drawings are in The Early Days by Davide Bassoli, pages 60 and 61. 

Bentley S1 Continental

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