Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Park Ward
Francis V. du Pont, Cambridge, Maryland (acquired new from J.S. Inskip, New York, in June 1957)John J. Bolton, North Andover, Massachusetts (acquired from the above in March 1963)Franklin S. Davis, North Reading, Massachusetts (acquired from the above in January 1975)Bud Dillon, Ithaca, New York (acquired from the above in 1977)Current Owner (acquired in 1986)
Following the success of the ultra exclusive R-Type Continental, the updated, sporting Bentley platform went on to enjoy continued praise as a highly capable road car of supreme luxury. Built in very limited numbers, the list of early owners reads like a Society Blue Book, not least of which was the first owner of the car offered here: Francis du Pont.
The Bentley Continental’s aluminum coachwork was aerodynamically designed to slip smoothly through the air, and contrasted greatly with the early postwar Bentley standard steel cars. Though the cars shared an identical chassis and engine, the Continental was fitted with a 2.923 rear axle instead of the standard 3.42, allowing the six-cylinder, 4.9-litre engine to sustain high-speed, long-distance cruising with ease.
Bentley Motors built 431 S1 Continentals, compared to 3,072 standard steel-bodied cars. Of those, just 69 received Park Ward’s revered Design 701 coachwork, a low-profile four-light two-door saloon with strikingly elegant proportions and ample room for four. The S1 Continental, with its remarkable performance and stunning good looks, soon became the Bentley model of choice for those who could afford one. In 1957, the model’s suggested retail price including tax was £7,587 ($11,380).
According to its build cards, chassis BC59BG’s coachwork was specified in Shell Grey and black lacquer, with a gray interior. It was originally ordered by Mr. du Pont an American industrialist, horticulturalist, and aviator, shortly after he had resigned from a high-ranking post he held in the Federal Highway Administration during the first years of Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency. According to its build card, Mr. du Pont took delivery of the S1 through J.S. Inskip in right hand drive, and it was further equipped with a rare sliding Sunshine roof and a manual synchromesh gearbox. As was common practice at J.S. Inskip in the period, this Bentley has since been retrofitted with an automatic transmission.
In the care of its current owner and his family since 1986, the Continental has been driven and enjoyed regularly and today appears well kept, yet unrestored. The fuel, electrical, and cooling systems were recently refreshed by Gabor Foreign Car Service in Cathedral City, California. With its next owner, the Bentley can continue to be enjoyed in its current condition or would make a most deserving candidate for a top-quality restoration. Its rare features and notable history make this remarkable S1 a truly unusual find. As it approaches its 60th year of faithful service, this elegant Bentley Continental is ready for tours, car meets, and Sunday drives.