The British have created some beautiful cars over the years, but few could hold a candle to the Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe. And this immaculate example is coming up for auction.
Unlike most Bentley convertibles of its time, the S1 DHC was built from the ground up as a drop-top by the craftsmen at Park Ward. The coachbuilder had just been acquired by Rolls-Royce 17 years before this example – bearing chassis number BC54LAF – was made in 1956.
And unlike later S2 and S3 Continentals, which were powered by V8 engines, the S1 retained Bentley’s long-serving and smooth running inline-six. The 4.9-liter unit left the S1 lighter than the later eight-cylinder models, much as the V8 in the current Continental is lighter than the heftier W12.
That gave the S1 a top speed clocked at 120 miles per hour, which was unfathomably fast for its era and made it an ideal grand tourer for crossing continents with ease – just as its name suggested. It even had a variable rear suspension that the driver could switch on-the-fly between harder and softer settings.
Only 31 such S1 Continental DHCs were made in left-hand drive. This one was delivered to an early aviation financier, who kept it for 25 years. After several other owners over the decades, the current owner had it comprehensively restored to its original specification in silver and blue. And as you can see for yourself from the photos below, it’s presented in immaculate condition.
RM Sotheby’s will sell it in Monterey this August, where it’s bound to make one individual of wealth and taste very happy indeed. If only we had the means to place the winning bid.