1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25

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Lot 79
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon
Coachwork by Hooper & Co Registration no. RGY 700 Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25

Sold for £ 32,200 (US$ 40,482) inc. premium
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon
Coachwork by Hooper & Co

Registration no. RGY 700
Chassis no. B50AN
Engine no. BA25

*Unique coachbuilt S-Series
*Displayed at the 1955 Earls Court Motor Show
*First owned by Sir Bryant Godman Irvine, MP
*Two owners from new

Footnotes

  • 'The Bentley 'S' Series is a very attractive car with superb lines, appearance and finish. It costs a lot of money, but to the connoisseur who must have the best it is worth every penny. This will still be a glorious car in 45 years' time, just as my own 1911 Silver Ghost is today.' - John Bolster, Autosport, 1956.

    Conceived as replacements for the ageing Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn and Bentley R-Type, the all-new Silver Cloud and Bentley S-Series were introduced early in 1955. The duo sported sleeker bodywork on a new box-section separate chassis - Rolls-Royce eschewing unitary construction for the time being - incorporating improved brakes and suspension, the latter featuring electrically controlled damping. Enlargement to 4,887cc and the adoption of a six-port cylinder head boosted the traditionally undisclosed power output of the dependable inlet-over-exhaust six-cylinder engine, which for the first time was identical in specification in its Rolls and Bentley forms. Automatic transmission was now standard equipment, with manual transmission a Bentley-only option up to 1957. Fast - 100mph-plus - relatively economical and cheaper to maintain than the successor V8-engined versions, the classically elegant S1 is arguably the most user-friendly of all post-war Bentleys.

    Although the popularity of Rolls-Royce and Bentley's 'standard steel' bodies meant that demand for coachbuilt alternatives continued to decline, the fact that the new Silver Cloud and S-Series cars retained a separate chassis kept the bespoke market afloat for a few more years. Increasingly, independent coachbuilders favoured the Bentley Continental chassis, 1,131 of which were delivered up to the conclusion of S-Series production in 1965 compared with a mere 162 with bespoke bodies on the standard Bentley chassis.

    Discerning customers continued to patronise the handful of coachbuilding firms that remained in business after WW2. Among the few practitioners surviving by the mid-1950s was Hooper & Co. London-based carriage makers to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, and arguably the finest of all British coachbuilders, Hooper was never far from the motoring headlines in the post-war years thanks to a succession of often outrageous 'Docker Specials' featuring bodies on Daimler chassis.

    Typical of Hooper's style of this period, the Bentley S-Series offered here was one of the sensations of the 1955 Earls Court Motor Show, being exhibited on the coachbuilder's own stand. Needless to say, such hand-built quality did not come cheap: Hooper's saloon on the 'S' chassis cost £7,074, making it a staggering 43% more expensive than the factory-bodied car.

    The Bentley was purchased new by the Sir Bryant Godman Irvine, the Member of Parliament for Rye and later Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. Following Sir Bryant's death in 1992, the Bentley was acquired (in 1996) by the current (second) owner. A full bodywork restoration and re-spray was carried out in 1995, with a further partial re-spray in 2015, while the electrical system benefits from new part-loom. Noteworthy features include an after-market air conditioning system, new stainless steel trims to the front wheels, and a stainless steel exhaust system. A defective heated rear window is the only notified fault.

    Described by the private vendor as in generally very good condition, this unique coachbuilt S-Series Bentley comes with copies of the original Hooper drawings, the original Bentley guarantee and owner's handbook, a V5C registration document, and invoices for parts and services dating back 20 years. Also included in the sale is a set of five fitted suitcases supplied with the car when new, comprising a large wardrobe case, three slim suitcases and a hat or shoe box. They are trimmed in matching light and dark blue leather, with light blue silk linings.
Contacts
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
1955 Bentley S-Series Saloon  Chassis no. B50AN Engine no. BA25
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