Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupé – 1957

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Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupé - 1957

Coachwork by Park Ward
431 ex. (S1)
185 ex. (S1 – Park Ward)
31 ex. (S1 – Park Ward – DHC LHD)

Described by The Autocar as, ‘A new stage in the evolution of the post-war Bentley,’ the 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. 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 Bentley’s new ‘S’ Series cars, introduced in April 1955, The 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 said of the H J Mulliner-styled fastback, which was the quickest four/five-seater saloon of its day. The Bentley S-Type’s new box-section chassis incorporated improved brakes and suspension and an enlarged (to 4.887 cc) 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 era’s the most stylish.

Of the 431 Bentley S1 Continentals produced between 1955 and 1959, 185 were bodied by Rolls-Royce’s in-house coachbuilder, Park Ward Ltd, of which 63 were left-hand drive. One of only 31 left-hand drive drophead coupés made, chassis number ‘BC30LCH’ was via retailed via Garage de l’Athenée of Paris, France and delivered new in July 1957 to George Embiricos. The Bentley was registered in the UK as ‘TXF 917’, and on 16th August 1957 was shipped to France aboard the ‘SS Dinard’, travelling from Dover to Boulogne.

George A Embiricos was a Greek shipping magnate whose family had owned numerous Bentleys over the years, commencing when the company was still run by the great W O Bentley himself. An aficionado of quality motor cars, George Embiricos was also a noted connoisseur of fine art, owning several masterpieces by El Greco, Goya, Cézanne, Kandinsky, Picasso, van Gogh, and Francis Bacon. The accompanying copy chassis card records George A Embiricos as owner, with company addresses at Dunster House, London EC3 and 29 Broadway, New York City. According to the factory records, the Continental was finished in Sand over Sable with beige leather interior and matching convertible hood. Special features included power steering, an ‘mph’ speedometer, Marchal headlamps, fog/winking lights, Dunlop whitewall tyres, deep amber tail lamps, and a ‘Made in England’ name plate.

In early 1970, by which time it had covered 90.762 miles, the Bentley was purchased by Mr Tom Mix, owner of Foreign Motors West, an authorised Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz franchise. Mr Mix was an avid automobile collector and intended to keep the Continental for the rest of his life, which in fact he did. The car had been re-sprayed blue at some time during the original owner’s stewardship, while in the late 1980s/early 1990s the convertible top was renewed using correct materials.

In August 2001, Mr Mix passed away, and his substantial collection of automobiles was disposed of by his widow. ‘BC30LCH’ was sold to its third owner, Mr M H van Son, the current vendor. (Some documents record the owner’s name as ‘Joseph Bendowski’, who is CEO of the vendor’s company, Van Son Holland Inc of America, and handled the purchase on his behalf).

The Bentley had seen only limited use during Mr Mix’s 40-or-so years of ownership, and the odometer reading of circa 106.000 miles, though undocumented, is believed correct. After purchasing the car, the vendor immediately sent it to marque specialists P&A Wood for a thorough inspection and any required remedial works to be carried out (see detailed invoices totalling circa £ 55.000 on file).

Since then the Continental has formed part of the vendor’s private collection of Bentley motor cars. He has driven the car on long holiday journeys, covering approximately 14.000 miles in eight years, and advises us that it is wonderful to drive and has never had any technical problems. The Continental has been maintained annually by the vendor’s personal mechanic, who is a Bentley specialist. Presented in beautiful condition, this sublime Bentley Continental drophead coupé comes with a genuine owner’s manual, full tool kit (in good condition), Swiss registration papers, and the aforementioned documentation.

Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais
Bonhams
Sold for € 1.068.500
Estimated : € 1.000.000 – 1.500.000

Parijs – Paris
Frankrijk – France
February 2017

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