1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon  Chassis no. BC9BG Engine no. BC9B
Lot 364
1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon
Coachwork by H J Mulliner Registration no. TBA Chassis no. BC9BG Engine no. BC9B
Sold for £253,500 (US$ 431,124) inc. premium
Lot Details
1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon
Coachwork by H J Mulliner

Registration no. TBA
Chassis no. BC9BG
Engine no. BC9B

Footnotes

  • 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 aluminium-bodied 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 'BC9BG' was specified with automatic transmission and delivered to its first owner, H Needler Esq of North Ferriby, East Yorkshire in September 1956. In March 1963 the Continental passed to its second private owner, one S B C Livesey of London W9, the only other owner listed on the chassis card. It subsequently went to the USA having been purchased in this country via Frank Dale & Stepsons by Dr Rodney A Brown MD of Olympia, Washington State, who appears to have acquired it circa 1974. In a letter on file Dr Brown states (erroneously) that he was the car's second owner, the original having been 'Mr Ted Dexter, ex-professional soccer player'. Presumably this is a reference to Ted Dexter, the professional cricketer and captain of Sussex and England, who may well have been the previous owner but certainly not the first. Dr Brown goes on to detail the many maintenance tasks undertaken during his ownership, which seems to have ended in the early 1980s.

    The next recorded owner in the USA is one Philip C Brooks of Alexandria, Virginia, who sold the Bentley to the British marque specialists P & A Wood in December 1989. In a letter on file Mr Brooks states that 'the Bentley was a member of our family for several years and we are very fond of her...' In November 1994 the car was acquired by the current vendor via car brokers Shortbay Ltd of London SW6, Messrs P & A Wood being recorded on the related paperwork as the last owner.

    While in the vendor's care the Continental has benefited from a restoration of paintwork and interior trim while seeing relatively little use, and in recent years has been carefully stored. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned correspondence and copy chassis cards; copies of the H J Mulliner build sheets; and sundry service/maintenance invoices. It should be noted that the cherished registration '1950 GH' is being retained by the vendor. Capable of transporting its occupants over vast distances in a high level of comfort, this wonderful Bentley Continental is a car worthy of any collection and will bring great pride to its next discerning owner.
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