Guide Price - £27,000 - £32,000
• Motoring in the grand manner
• Huge service history
• Very sound example
Bentley’s S Series of 1955 – along with Rolls-Royce’s Silver Cloud – would prove to be the marque’s final body-on-chassis model. It was roomier than the outgoing R-type, with its five-litre six-cylinder positioned further forward in the chassis. Naturally it was built in both short and long wheel-base forms.
Its streamlined form was constructed in steel, with doors, boot lid and twin engine covers fashioned in aluminium. Even more effortless driving was enhanced (should you choose to drive it yourself) by lighter steering and power-assisted brakes, while electrically adjusted rear dampers controlled the ride. The transmission was, of course, automatic (four-speed).
As was the tradition, the chassis was made available to the likes of Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young for the addition of ravishing coupe bodies. And hence the Continental S coupe was born. In 1959, the S1 was replaced by the V8-powered S2.
This fine, early production example still lives in the county into which it was delivered by Rippon Brothers (Huddersfield), over six decades ago. It is one of those cars that has been lucky enough to enjoy careful stewardship all its life, with owners who have been prepared to keep the car in top condition, often despite considerable cost.
The present keeper has owned the car for around five years. Apart from regular routine maintenance, he has seen fit to have the brakes rebuilt as well as had some extensive rechroming, including the tall radiator grille and the front bumper.
Predictably, the car has been used for fair-weather outings only and has led a pretty relaxed life in its later years.
A very comprehensive service history is one if this car’s strong suits. Two binders contain a wealth of information – even including the main dealer’s delivery docket. The number of invoices is considerable, attesting to a consistent effort over the years to keep the car on the road and in good condition.
The Bentley underwent some extensive bodywork restoration in the late Seventies (with the owner sometimes even going back to Rolls-Royce itself for parts) and owners since can be seen to have kept on top of every job, be it cosmetic or mechanical.
All pretty confidence inspiring.
The sober two-tone paintwork suits this car very well. Its colours are consistent across all panels – steel and aluminium – and retain a deep shine over the whole car.
With plenty of complex curves, there are many intersections and angles that would throw up any misalignments in the panels and joins, but the Bentley passes any such tests easily. Gaps between doors, panels and lids are even and symmetrical across the car, and, unlike some examples, there are no ripples in the metal in the sides.
There is a fair amount of chrome on this old girl, and this too is in fine form. There is an excellent shine across the big grille and the bumpers, while other details such as the window frames or the chrome coach line show crisp, clean edges (no dirt accumulated in the joins) and no discolouration. There is no pitting either. The rubber seals behind the metal are also good, appearing supple and of a good colour.
There are some very tiny inconsistencies in finish around such joins here and there, but there is nothing to spoil the overall effect of a very fine-looking motor.
The burr walnut woodwork is definitely a highlight feature of the car - beautifully figured and retaining a consistently glossy lacquered finish. Be it the dashboard, the door caps (very nicely bookmatched) or the those rather nice rear picnic tables, the finish is excellent with no signs of fade.
The quality of the wood is matched by the condition of the carpets and door cards – clean, of an excellent colour, and, despite the years, showing no signs of sagging or warping. The headlining is clean and taut too.
The green leather seats show a fairly gentle patina but retain a good colour, though there is some gentle wear to the tops in places. Seats and armrests both front and back maintain a good shape…though yes, we too are slightly puzzled by the colour of the seatbelts.
Interior fittings are likewise good, with chrome fittings remaining bright, with no undue wear or pitting. The steering wheel, instruments and switches are original and carry that gentle rounding of sympathetic use.
In short, the cabin remains the soberly elegant space you would expect and wish it to be.
The underside of the car looks to be very sound. There is an (older) coat of weatherproofing, which looks to be very much intact, while sills and jacking points appear solid and strong, and the larger chassis components very solid.
Suspension components appear to be in good working order (the rear leaf springs are inboard and not easy to see), with everything looking to be free-moving and showing negligible if any surface corrosion. The exhaust is in good shape and the steel wheels – and their chromed covers – are in fine shape. The tyres have plenty of life in them.
Taking a look under the twin engine covers – which move smoothly and without creaking – will inspire any classic Bentley enthusiast with a lot of confidence. Perhaps not concourse – there is the odd scuff and chip to the black paintwork – but the engine bay is in very fine shape.
There are no signs of leaks or areas of accumulated dirt – no mean achievement in itself considering the convoluted nature of the pipework and components – and every piece appears well lubricated and fettled. Copper piping, hoses, screws and nuts all appear in excellent shape and easily adjustable, while major components have a robustness only retained with careful and regular maintenance. With a turn of the key, the big six-cylinder fires immediately and settles into a muted and consistent purr.
When you look in the boot – again all very clean – you’ll notice that the car retains its (almost all) original tool kit and even its inspection torch.
When they are well-fettled, as is obviously the case with this example, there is an immense charm and sense of well-being about these cars. And it’s a feeling that they somehow transfer to you when you drive them, making any trip, short or long, fast or slow, a memorable event.
Of course, a Bentley of this type can harbor some expensive remedial maintenance jobs if it hasn’t been looked after, but a good look around the car – and through that extensive service history – would strongly suggest that isn’t going to be the case here. So we think you can bid with confidence on this one.
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