1957 Bentley Continental Sports Saloon
Lot 337
1957 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon Chassis no. BC79BG Engine no. BC78B
Sold for £191,900 (US$ 318,122) inc. premium
Lot Details
1957 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon
Coachwork by H J Mulliner

Registration no. OBL 165F
Chassis no. BC79BG
Engine no. BC78B


  • Bentley's magnificent Continental sports saloon has been synonymous with effortless high speed cruising in the grand manner since its introduction on the R-Type chassis in 1952. Unlike the ordinary, factory-bodied, 'standard steel' R-Type, the Continental was bodied in the traditional manner and first appeared with what many enthusiasts consider to be the model's definitive style of coachwork - the lightweight, wind tunnel-developed fastback of H J Mulliner.
    The Continental's performance figures would have been considered excellent for an out-and-out sports car but for a full four/five seater saloon they were exceptional: a top speed of 120mph, 100mph achievable in third gear, 50mph reached in a little over 9 seconds and effortless cruising at the 'ton'. Built for export only at first, the Continental was, once delivery charges and local taxes had been paid, almost certainly the most expensive car in the world as well as the fastest capable of carrying four adults and their luggage. 'The Bentley is a modern magic carpet which annihilates great distances and delivers the occupants well-nigh as fresh as when they started,' declared Autocar.
    With the arrival of the final generation of six-cylinder cars - the all-new Silver Cloud and Bentley S-Type - the Continental lost some of its individuality but none of its exclusivity. Eulogising about the new S-Series cars, introduced in April 1955, Autocar wrote, 'the latest Bentley model offers a degree of safety, comfort and performance that is beyond the experience and perhaps even the imagination of the majority of the world's motorists.'
    Later, in October that same year, the Bentley Continental became available on the 'S' chassis. 'It brings Bentley back to the forefront of the world's fastest cars,' Autocar remarked of the H J Mulliner-styled fastback which, arguably, was the quickest four/five-seater saloon of its day. The S-Type's new box-section chassis incorporated improved brakes and suspension and an enlarged (to 4,887cc) and more powerful version of the existing inlet-over-exhaust six-cylinder engine, which for the first time was identical in specification in its Rolls and Bentley forms. The Continental version came with shorter radiator and higher gearing and, for a time at least, could be ordered with right-hand 'change, manual transmission. As had been the case with the original R-Type, the new S-Type Continental was only ever available as a coachbuilt car, the designs produced by independent coachbuilders for the S1 Continental chassis being among the era's most stylish, although – arguably – none ever improved on H J Mulliner's sublime original.
    Right-hand drive chassis number 'BC79BG' was delivered new via Garage l'Athénée to A W Berner Esq, a resident of the Lausanne Palace Hotel in the eponymous Swiss city. Accompanying copy build sheets note that the steering was 'converted to power' and that the car was delivered with a km/h speedometer. The original gearbox was manual (now automatic). First registered 'TXF 106', the Continental was re-imported by Alfred Wyndham Hurst in 1967 and reregistered 'OBL 165F', its current mark. In 1973 the car passed to Richard Thomas and in 1976 was re-purchased from him by Wyndham Hurst (see old-style buff logbooks on file).
    Purchased by London Portfolio Services in 1987, 'OBF 165F' was serviced by marque specialists Frank Dale & Stepsons and repainted (there are photographs on file of a bare metal re-spray from original colours to the present British Racing Green). In 1995 £5,000 was spent with FD&S on new fuel pumps and servicing. Its late owner bought the car from Mr Gerald Capps in 1996.
    There are various bills on file for parts bought from P&A Wood and invoices for work undertaken over the last ten years by Wells Vousden Restorations and Calvert Wells. Works carried out have included rebuilding the brakes, thorough servicing and detailing of the engine, tidying of coachwork and installing new fuel pumps. Some £15,000 was spent on the car over this period. Additionally the are bills on file totalling £9,000 for a complete interior re-trim and woodwork refurbishment by Healey Bros in 1997. There are also invoices for servicing by Rolls-Royce main dealer Arnett of Bournemouth dating back to the 1970s plus a substantial quantity of expired MoT certificates. Described as in generally good condition, with very good interior, this well documented S-Series Bentley Continental is offered with current road fund licence, MoT to February 2013 and Swansea V5 registration document.
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